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I’m currently in the process of earning my undergraduate degrees. A few weeks before the start of the fall semester in 2014, I found out that my efforts to get pregnant had finally paid off. I was due the first week of May 2015, also known as finals week!
Deciding to get pregnant while simultaneously attending college is a life-changing choice. I found that it was very hard to find information on how to be successful in college while also maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Going into the fall semester during my first trimester was quite the experience. My grades slipped, mainly because I had chosen to take a Food and Meals course that involved food preparation — a class that did not agree with my morning sickness — and because I ignored my instincts and took a class with a professor who turned out to be unsympathetic to the issues I faced as a pregnant student.
With hindsight as my guide, the following semester I set myself up for success. The likelihood is that, for at least part of your pregnancy, you aren’t going to be feeling your best. Either exhaustion, morning sickness, heartburn or general discomfort are going to become part of your daily life. When you are juggling a full course load, a job and pregnancy, sometimes your grades can slip. In addition to studying, here are a few tips I found helpful to prevent that from happening to you.
- If you are actively trying to conceive, aiming for a May or June due date will give you time to heal after delivery and give you extra bonding time with your new baby before classes resume during the next semester.
- This is not the time for an 18-credit hour schedule. Take 12 credit hours and give those classes your full attention.
- Talk to your professors ahead of time. Inform them that you are pregnant and get a feeling for their attitude toward working with a pregnant student. Are they going to offer make-up assignments for the days you have to miss classes to go to a prenatal appointment? Are they willing to allow you to take your finals a little early (or a little late) if you have a conflicting due date or if baby shows up early? If you encounter a professor who is unwilling to work with you, or just gives you a bad feeling, save that class for a later date if possible.
- This might be a good time to consider taking some or all of your classes online. This is particularly true for those who experience extreme morning sickness during pregnancy. It’s a lot easier to schedule taking an online class around naps, bathroom breaks and vomiting than a lecture scheduled at a specific time during the day. In addition, you can make yourself far more comfortable taking a class in your own home.
- Sleep as much as you can without compromising your homework and class attendance.
- Carry nutritious snacks with you. Not only does this help keep you and your baby healthy, having something to nibble on can reduce feelings of morning sickness.
- Hydrate. Being hydrated raises your energy levels and can help prevent urinary tract infections, which become more common in pregnancy.
- With your doctor’s permission, exercise. Being active will help increase your energy levels, aid digestion and help your mind process information more efficiently.
- Try to find time for you. Talking to your friends is so important. They are the ones who will listen, sympathize and cheer you on!
- Think about how awesome you are. Seriously, you are amazing. Not only are you growing a human but you are strengthening your mind. You go, girl!