Going Back to School While Pregnant or After BabyKatlyn Joy |17, June 2014
Timing is everything, but life doesn't always work on our schedules. If you find yourself headed back to college while expecting, or caring for a baby, you may feel under pressure and overwhelmed.
However, you are not alone. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 38 percent of those in college are over the age of 25, and 25 percent are over 30. Many of these are also parents.
Returning students have many challenges to overcome, but balancing school and family, and possibly work as well, has to be the greatest challenge. Check with your school; many have programs to help, and possibly resources like scholarships, or help with school supplies.
Pregnant and Returning to School
Pregnancy and school is definitely doable; I've done it, as a matter of fact. The key is to never procrastinate, and to communicate well and in advance with your professors.
There are some simple ways to head off many of the problems of being pregnant and in school:
1. Speak privately to your professors to let them know ahead of time about your situation. It's better to speak in advance than to make it sound like an excuse later, when it impacts your classroom performance.
2. If you have to run to the bathroom often, take a seat in the back to be more stealth in your frequent breaks. You don't want to interrupt or be a distraction.
3. If you know you have an appointment or procedure, let your professors know in advance to work out a plan to make up lost work. Most teachers are willing to work with you as long as you don't wait until the last minute, or seem to take advantage of the situation.
4. Consider seeking out help at the center in your school where students with disabilities receive assistance. Even though pregnancy is not really a disability, you will still be able to take advantage of these types of assistance. You might get help with note-taking, having a tape recorder for lectures, or getting alternative arrangements for tests.
5. Bring a water bottle and snacks to keep you going. Most classes that extend longer than an hour or so provide break times. You need to stay hydrated.
6. Consider bringing a pillow to be comfortable. If you have back aches, hemorrhoids, or some other pregnancy-related ailment, you may want to bring something to ease the pressure.
7. Plan out what you intend to do following the birth. You can't wing it; instead planning as much as possible in advance will alleviate many stresses and difficulties. Sometimes you can work out a schedule ahead of time to turn in work early, or do alternate assignments. You may get permission to just drop off work, or pick up assignments, or possibly you can increase the amount of work done online while you are recovering.
College After Baby
Many of the tips for pregnancy work as well for after baby. If you are breastfeeding, you will want to get baby familiar with drinking pumped breastmilk, or if you will be supplementing, formula while you are gone extended periods. Even if you have baby covered, you will likely need to pump while gone very long. It's usually a simple process to find a good place to pump, and you can speak to an advisor, health services or your professor, if you feel comfortable. Remember in the first weeks to bring nursing pads for those inevitable leaks, though.
Be sure to read your syllabus thoroughly and stay on top of all your assignments. Falling behind isn't an option for a mom. If you have to miss a class because of doctor's check-ups, or baby's illness, communicate with your teachers. Most will understand as many of them have been in the same situation.
Get help. Hire a reliable babysitter, have back-up numbers just in case, and let people who ask know what they can do to help. Being organized with household chores is paramount while juggling schoolwork and family. Let your partner know where you need some assistance instead of struggling alone or becoming bitter.
One of my favorite memories with my youngest daughter, born early in spring semester, was taking her to an evening class, and watching my professor teach a poem while rocking my daughter in her arms. School and babies can go together, with some preparation.
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