Being pregnant in college can seem daunting, but with the right preparations, you can successfully be a great student and a great mother as well. It is important that you know your rights as a pregnant student, get the right gear, make a good schedule, manage your symptoms, and take care of your health. If you can get all those things down, you’ll have a much easier time during your pregnancy in college.
Pregnant in College? Know Your Rights
Under Title IX, pregnant and breastfeeding women are protected for their rights to education.
Teachers and administrative staff including admissions counselors or financial aid officers are not allowed to discriminate against a new parent or pregnant student. They are also legally required to help make arrangements for you to be successful as a student given your pregnancy. That might mean rescheduling exams, finding alternate seats, or giving you codes for acceptance into courses in order to arrange a specific graduation date.
Get the Right Stuff
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As a pregnant student, you may need some extra gear to help you get comfortable and stay healthy in college.
Think about investing in a wheeled backpack to take the load off. With one of these backpacks, you also won’t be bending over as much to pick it up.
Try to scope out your lecture hall to see if you can make any adjustments for a growing belly in the desks. You may need to sit on the end of the row for more comfort as well. If you are studying at home, make sure your desk will be a comfortable place for you to be spending your study hours.
Get a good water bottle and thermos for on-the-go smoothies or soups for when you are feeling a bit off or in a rush, but you know you still need the nutrition.
You might think about a portable stool to bring to longer classes to reduce feet swelling. At home, any stool will do.
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Staying healthy while in school can be a challenge. Add a pregnancy on top of that, and it’s even harder and even more important. Getting your mental and physical health in line early is the way to go!
Exercise both regularly and safely while you are pregnant in college. This will help to reduce stress and improve your health. Some universities have gyms and fitness classes but may not have classes for pregnant women. Check before you go that a fitness class will be right for you.
2. Manage Stress
Having a baby in college or being pregnant in college can bring on a lot of added stress to your student life. Take care of your body and your mind throughout your pregnancy in school. Hopefully, you already have a way to decrease your stress that works for you, but here are 5 more tips for reducing college stress.
3. Accept Help
Help could come in many ways — from friends and family to teachers, to special considerations made from your school. Go ahead and accept the help, you’ll be grateful for it later. You don’t have to do it all on your own!
4. Get Some Fresh Air
Studying can sometimes mean hours at a desk or in front of a computer. When you aren’t feeling well, or just need a break, go for a walk outdoors to get some fresh air. You may want to schedule in regular walks as well to help with stress, exercise, and peace of mind.
5. Manage Your Symptoms
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Nausea, fatigue, hunger, oh my! These are just a few of the new things you may be feeling as a newly pregnant college student. Manage common symptoms with these helpful tricks:
- Stash ginger and lemon in your bag to add to water and tea
- Bring wet wipes or washcloths, a change of clothes and gum or toothbrush/toothpaste for when you really don’t feel well
- Avoid passing through dining halls or studying at cafes if smells trigger nausea
- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Schedule your classes at times you’re most alert
- Try to take rest breaks if needed
- Find a coffee alternative that helps you stay alert and focused
- Make sure you always have healthy snacks on hand for eating on the go between classes
- Try smoothies or soups in a thermos for when you aren’t feeling well but need a nutrition boost
Get the Right Schedule
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Setting yourself up for success in school while pregnant might mean rearranging your schedule. This could mean taking fewer classes or switching to online classes while you are in your final term.
Make sure to find an obstetrician that works with your school schedule. And speaking of doctor’s, schedule your appointments wisely. Check your school calendar before to make sure important check-ups don’t interfere with project dates or final exams if possible.
To be able to keep everything on track, get super organized with a calendar. Find one central place where you can manage all of your appointments and school deadlines. Refer to it often.
You should also ask for assistance from family and friends if possible. If your family and friends aren’t able to help you, check for local organizations or religious communities that may be able to help either with childcare, or providing a comfortable place to study.
If you still need to work while pregnant and in college, consider working online. This will mean more flexibility, less scheduling conflicts, and less moving around in general. Here’s a list of great part-time online jobs for students.
Scholarships and Grants for Pregnant College Students
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Women who are pregnant in college are eligible for special scholarships to help with tuition and living expenses while studying. These scholarships might have restrictions such as single parenthood, age requirements, or income requirements. We’ve compiled a list of seven great scholarships for moms — and you don’t need to be single mom for these either.
Having a Baby in College
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If you are pregnant in college, and you know you will give birth before your graduation, you will need to make special considerations for you and your little one while you’re in school.
It is a wise idea to take a semester off while baby is a newborn, and resume college classes once they are at least three months old. While you are in school, you will need to make arrangements for childcare and take into consideration your breastfeeding or pumping schedule.
Many universities have daycare options for students, and subsidized family housing centers. These centers and preschools usually have long waiting lists, so it’s best to apply early on.
Consider Online Classes During the First Year
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If you can arrange it, try to take all or mostly online classes during the first year of your baby’s life. The flexibility of these classes mean that you can arrange your schoolload to work with your baby’s feeding schedule and nap times.
You also won’t need to leave your little one with a caregiver, as you can be home with them.
Finally, online classes mean you don’t need to go anywhere, so if you have a sleepless night, you can try to sleep in a little bit (if your baby lets you!).
University of the People offers entire degrees online, and being tuition-free, this is an excellent option for you as you navigate your way through being a new mom. It is also a US accredited university that provides options to transfer your credits to other on-campus schools and you won’t have to worry about employers accepting the degree. With degrees in health science, computer science, business administration, and education, there’s a degree for the most in-demand jobs today.
Just because you are at the stage of your life where you are having a baby does not mean you need to pause or end your school plans or career trajectory. Keep on studying, working, or doing whatever it is that makes you happy! If you do choose to pause your studies, know that that’s okay too. Every woman’s path is different, and you decide what is best for you and your family, including being pregnant in college.