If you’re a pregnant college student, you may be feeling like the odds are stacked against you. How can you possibly meet all of your school’s expectations while still taking care of yourself and your baby? It’s true that going to college or university while pregnant is a challenging experience. With some advance planning and collaboration with your professors and school administration, you can continue to be successful at school while pregnant.
You have a new boss – your baby! It’s up to you to take good care of yourself, for your own sake and for the sake of your child. Each woman’s body is different, and you’ll discover what you need to do for yourself as you proceed through your pregnancy. Some self-care tips that have proven useful for other pregnant students include:
Invest in a wheeled backpack
If you’re carrying books and notebooks around campus, it may get harder for you to carry them on your back. If you find that your backpack feels too heavy, or you’re straining to pick it up, consider buying a backpack with wheels. This type of pack will allow you to carry it on your back when you feel up to it, or wheel it behind you when it feels too heavy.
Ask your doctor what you should be eating, and how often. Take good notes, and then make sure you put a plan in place for getting the right nutrition. This may include packing nutritious snacks for yourself before you head off to class. If you put the right fuel into your body, you’ll feel more capable of handling the challenges of college along with your pregnancy.
Exercise helps with mood, appetite, and clear thinking. If your doctor says it’s okay, implement regular exercise into your routine. Some pregnant women prefer gentle exercise like yoga or tai chi, while others like to continue more vigorous activities, like biking or jogging. Your doctor can help you assess your current physical condition and decide what kind of exercise is right for you. Video workouts like the PregoFIT Workouts DVD Series are a great solution if you prefer to exercise in the privacy of your own home.
Communicating with people at your school is really important. Your teachers, your advisor, and your school’s administration can be allies for you if you let them.
Schedule meetings with your professors before you find yourself in a situation where you need their help. Let them know that you’re pregnant and that you want to put some plans in place to make sure you can still be successful at school. Find out in advance what you should do if you’re having a hard time meeting a deadline because of your pregnancy. Your teachers will appreciate that you’re thinking ahead and will be willing to work with you to help you succeed
If you’re still at the beginning of your semester, consider reducing the number of classes you’re taking. Most schools have a window of time in which classes can be dropped without penalty. Sit down with your academic advisor and discuss whether this is something you should consider. Your advisor can help you figure out whether dropping a class will affect your enrollment status or your eligibility for financial aid.
Your school’s administration
Your school’s administration can help you navigate any problems you’re having with being pregnant while in school. Title IX protects pregnant students from discrimination, so talk to an administrator if you’re having a hard time keeping up in classes and aren’t able to get extra help from your professors. The administration can facilitate communication with teachers and help them arrive at solutions that will ensure your success.
Plan your class schedule in a way that will make it easy for you to succeed. Most schools offer the same classes at several different times of day, so choose the class sessions that occur at good times for you.
Most women experience morning sickness at some point during their pregnancy. You may find that afternoon classes are easier for you to attend than morning ones. If possible, schedule only afternoon classes while you’re pregnant – this will give you the morning to take good care of yourself and recover from any morning sickness that you may be feeling.
Time between classes
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time between classes. As your baby grows and presses against your bladder, you’ll find yourself running to the bathroom much more frequently! Your non-pregnant self may have been able to make it through several classes without a trip to the ladies’ room, but your pregnant self won’t be quite so accommodating. You’ll also need to make sure you have time to eat small snacks between classes to keep your energy up.
If you’re experiencing a lot of difficult pregnancy symptoms, it can be a great idea to take online classes. Most colleges now offer some of their classes online to accommodate students who can’t be physically present. Online classes tend to have more flexibility surrounding when you do your class work, which can be a real lifesaver if you can’t predict when you’ll be feeling good enough to study. This kind of class is particularly useful in your last trimester when it will be more difficult for you to get around.
Believe in yourself and know that you can succeed. If you take good care of your health, communicate well with your school, and make your schedule work to your advantage, you will be able to make it through both your pregnancy and your semester!