Being pregnant while attending college is usually not an ideal combination. Both stages of life are stressful on their own, much less one on top of the other! However, the fact that a college pregnancy is challenging doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Around the world, pregnant women and others with uteruses face expectant parenthood and the roller coaster that is pregnancy itself. With the proper resources, some extra support, and a bit of self-assurance, you can absolutely handle these two milestones simultaneously.
Find resources that can help you
While pregnant at college, the right resources will be absolutely essential. For instance, maybe you’re just preparing for college when you learn that you’re pregnant, and you’re not looking to change your plans. You might seek out college guidance consultants who can help guide you through the admissions process, take some of the stress off your shoulders, and even guide you toward better advocating for yourself through admissions and college itself. At school, your institution’s Title IX coordinator can help you figure out what accommodations can help you through the next nine months and how you can get them put into place.
Do what you can to stay comfortable
In many cases, pregnancy is uncomfortable—after all, you’re growing an entire human (or even multiples)! As your body moves through the coming changes, it’s important to stay as comfortable as possible as you sit through class or juggle OB appointments with extracurriculars. Maternity leggings are just one example of comfortable maternity clothes with features like extra belly support and breathable fabric that can make these months more tolerable. In the same vein, seek out ways to beat morning sickness and other symptoms, or at least alleviate your symptoms. It won’t have you ready for frat parties, but you’ll be better able to handle the standard college schedule.
Lean on your support systems
You don’t necessarily need a partner in order to have a strong support structure while pregnant at college. Your friends, family, mentors, and others can make up the “village” that will help you through pregnancy and raising your child. It’s crucial, though, that you let them help. It’s tempting to turn down assistance when it’s offered, especially if you’re an independent woman, but there’s no shame in an occasional helping hand. In fact, it’s one of the most essential tools you can use to successfully navigate a college pregnancy.
Understand your legal rights
First and foremost, consider your reproductive rights—there are options available if pregnancy is unintended. However, for those who choose to keep a pregnancy, there are other rights in place to protect you as a college student. Most notably, Title IX prevents discrimination in educational programs and activities, including on the basis of pregnancy or parenting status. If your institution receives federal funding (as most do), they cannot prohibit you from participating in your schooling, extracurricular activities, or other such programs. The same law proposes that pregnant students cannot be harassed, including jokes or comments on their pregnancy, and are allowed excused absences per their doctor’s instructions.
Handling pregnancy at college is rarely easy, but it’s not impossible, either. If you’ve found out you’re expecting, you can take care of yourself and your baby through the next nine months even as you attend classes and work toward your degree. With a strong support system and the right resources—whether that’s maternity clothes or your school’s procedures—you absolutely can balance school and pregnancy. And, once you graduate, you’ll have an extra accomplishment to brag about: not only have you finished college, but you’re a new parent, too! Even before they’re born, you’ll be setting a great example for your little one.