Best Ways to Continue Your Education Online While Pregnant
Doing well in school is often difficult enough when you’re feeling your best, but if you’re pregnant it can be even harder. You’ll have to contend with things like morning sickness, exhaustion, and baby brain, but don’t let that stop you. Whether it’s high school or college, finishing your education will help you and your family in the long run, and your unborn little one will be very proud of you for sticking it out once he or she is old enough to understand what you did. That being said, it’s always nice to have a bit of help.
When I was in university I worked at my school’s writing centre. My job was to help students get better at writing papers, studying for tests, and taking exams. The place I worked at had the capability to work with online students without them having to come and visit us in person. Your school probably has a similar service, so take advantage of them. While you’re waiting for an appointment, here is some of the advice I gave to the students I saw:
- When studying, take short breaks. Your brain can only absorb so much information at once, so every hour or so take a 10 minute break. Get up, walk around, have a snack, whatever. This will help wake you up, it will rejuvenate you so you can continue studying or writing, and it will help you remember what you were studying in the long run.
- Break down large projects, like essays, into smaller tasks. Sitting down and telling yourself “I’m going to write this 2000 word paper today,” is super intimidating. So divide it into smaller parts: research some articles, write a draft (if that’s your thing), write the introduction, write the first point, etc. Not only will this make it less intimidating to do, but it’ll also help you get the work done if you’re feeling tired or nauseated because you won’t have to sit down and concentrate for as long.
- When you’re editing, read your work out loud. It forces you to slow down, so you’re more likely to read what you actual wrote (instead of what you thought you wrote), which will help you pick up any mistakes that are there. As an added bonus, you’ll be reading to your unborn child, and she likes to hear your voice.
- When you are reading your textbooks or articles turn the headings and subheading into questions. Then once you’ve read the section, try to answer the question.
- When you’re taking tests, the most important thing for you to do is relax. So remember to breathe. I find four square breathing helps me the most, so it’s the one I tend to recommend, but there are other relaxation techniques. Find one that works for you.
Find a Time That Works For You
One of the benefits of going to school online instead of in class is that they generally don’t have set meeting times. This means you can pick whatever time works best for you. So, in the first trimester you feel completely nauseated in the morning, then you can work on your courses in the afternoon. Or if you find that you’re completely bushed by two o’clock, then you can do your school work earlier on in the day.
Also, it’s important to plan ahead. I used to use a large calendar and post sticky notes on the days I had assignments due so I could keep track of them. When you’re pregnant, this might be even more important, especially if your third trimester is when all of your assignments are due, because you’ll likely be super tired. Since you’ll have less energy then, you might want to consider doing at least part of the assignments earlier on in your pregnancy when you have more energy.
When choosing a school or a program, make sure you know of all the options available for you. Pregnancy is unpredictable and you never know what's coming your way, so it is crucial to research well and to be aware of the school's policies and specifications of each program when it comes to rescheduling or even retaking classes, or extending deadlines.
Take advantage of all the free tools you can find online and be proactive in your planning.
Beat the Baby Brain
One of the struggles of going to school while you’re pregnant is that you’ll have to contend with baby brain, or pregnancy brain. While there is no real proof about its existence, Dr. Ching-Lynn Chen explains that feeling more forgetful makes sense (especially later on in your pregnancy), because you’re not sleeping as well as normal, and you brain absorbs memories and stores them when you are sleeping. To beat the baby brain, start writing things down. Write down assignment due dates, write down the readings you have to do, and write down the days of your tests.
Know Your Rights
Just because you’re going to school online doesn’t mean you don’t have any rights. In the States Title IX, protects women and states that “A student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, and recovery from such termination of pregnancy must be subjected to the same policies that a recipient applies to any other temporary disability in terms of medical or hospital benefits, service, plan, or policy available to all students in a recipient’s education program or activity.” This means that you can do things like delay your exams should they fall on your baby’s due date. To take advantage of this, you’ll need to speak to someone at your school, but it’s definitely worth it.
The Art of Delegation
If you live with your partner or friends or parents while you are pregnant (and even if you don’t) don’t be afraid to ask them to help you out. It’s not a sign of weakness to need to rely on others. You’re a very busy person at the moment, and you’re also probably very tired, so ask them if they’d cook supper for you, run minor errands, or drive you to and from your doctor appointments.
If you are lucky to have loving people around you to give you their support and a hand in time of need, don't feel bad to have to rely on them. There is only so much you can handle with the baby on the way.
However, if you are made of a different kind of dough, make use of endless free services and aids available for you today to stay on top of your game.
Delicious and Nutritious Snacks
Another thing you’ll have to contend with is hunger. Since you won’t need to actually go to class, you don’t have to worry as much about planning out snacks, but it can make your life easier if you do. So before you sit down to read or listen to the lecture, or write a paper, gather yourself a healthy snack that you can munch on while you work. This will help with both the hunger, and, if you’re in the throes of morning sickness, eating small amounts of food frequently can help keep the nausea at bay.
I know it may seem tough, or even impossible, but you can get through both your pregnancy and your education. Remember it’s important for you to take some time for yourself, so even when assignments are staring at you menacingly, at least take a moment to relax and maybe read an actual story to your unborn child. I mean, you can sit there and read them all of your lectures and essays, but they might want to hear something a bit more fun too.