Once upon a time, I decided it would be a marvelous idea to get pregnant while still in school. I felt a deep longing to be a mother, so my husband and I started trying as soon as my due date would fall outside of my graduation. And what do you know — first time was a charm and my due date fell just two weeks after classes ended.
While this plan was perfect in theory, it didn’t play out perfectly as I battled morning sickness, waddled all the way across campus between lectures, and bumped into people with my belly while trying to get to my seat in class.
Being pregnant in school can be challenging at times, and I certainly wasn't prepared. I was a hot pregnant mess. I found myself crying in my childless male professor’s office while having a perfectly normal conversation, because, um, hormones. I wasn’t always well organized, and I was shy about asking for help when I needed it.
Eventually I reached the finish line. I gave birth to a healthy baby boy and secured my Bachelor’s degree, but it wasn’t easy. I definitely could have used some guidance while navigating both senior-level classes and a rollercoaster of emotional and physical changes.
So here are some tips for pregnant students from someone who has been there:
1. Plan ahead (if you can)
Plan your classes with pregnancy in mind. Don’t plan back-to-back classes on opposite ends of campus, or sign up for three-hour-long lectures if you can avoid them. If you have the option of taking courses taught by professors who already know you, do it. Trust me — you’ll need all the people in your corner you can get.
2. Talk to your professors
Set up meetings with all of your professors as soon as possible. It’s important to let your professors know you’re pregnant (if your bulging belly isn’t already announcing it for you) so they aren’t offended by the multiple bathroom breaks you need and the seasick look on your face during lectures.
Also, now is the time to troubleshoot seating issues or discuss possible absences from class. Chances are your professors will be more than willing to work with you so long as you openly communicate.
3. Get organized
Pregnancy brain is a real thing, my friends. It becomes much harder to keep your schoolwork and deadlines and meetings in order. Be prepared by writing things down immediately in your school planner. Might I suggest the New York Public Library Student Planner? It’s pretty much the best things since sliced bread.
4. Take a fitness class
One of the best decisions I made during my pregnancy was taking a morning yoga class. It burned up some elective credits and helped tremendously with my morning sickness (which was severe and lasted the whole nine months). Some mild fitness can help energize you for those long days on campus. If yoga isn’t your thing, try a lower level dance class or a milder aerobics class. Just make sure you're allowed to complete the course while pregnant before enrolling.
5. Pack snacks
If most of the food on campus sets off your gag reflex, make sure you pack snacks to get you through the day. And by snacks I mean manly, meal-sized portions of whatever it is you can stomach. Like a whole pack of string cheese or a full box of Oh’s Cereal.
6. Don't expect special treatment
It’s perfectly fine to expect accommodations for extra bathroom breaks and maybe one or two missed classes, but don’t expect extended deadlines or more lenient grading. Being pregnant isn’t a free pass for being a poor student. I know it’s tough, but you can do this.
Do YOU have any tips for being pregnant in college? Share your advice below!