Steps to Take to Get the Support You Need While Pregnant in Graduate School

Steps to Take to Get the Support You Need While Pregnant in Graduate School

Being a graduate student is hard work; so imagine being a pregnant graduate student. That’s an entirely different ballgame! The truth is, it's not as uncommon as you think. There are many women who struggle with being pregnant while in grad school, and as hard as it may seem, completing a graduate program is definitely possible.

Unfortunately, many women resort to dropping out of their graduate program after finding out they're pregnant. Why? It may seem like the easier and less stressful thing to do. However, with the right support, a pregnant woman can successfully get through grad school, regardless if they give birth before or after their program’s finish date.

Are you a pregnant graduate student? Need a little advice? Follow these eight steps below, as they will guide you through various ways of coping and getting through being pregnant as a graduate student.

1. Take A Leave Of Absence

A pregnant student can be granted a maternity related absence for as long as it is medically necessary, and can then resume the status she held when the initial leave began. This means that any absence you take cannot be held against you or affect your grades in any way. 

Before you think about dropping out completely, seek the alternative options that are available to you.  It may just save your graduate career.

If you feel that your school is less than helpful, research other schools in your area. You can begin by clicking the link below to find a new school. This simple tool will calculate the schools in your area that fit your needs based on basic information about your educational needs and geolocation.

2. Know Your Rights

Many people do not see pregnancy as a condition, but the truth is that each and every pregnancy is different and challenging. If colleges allow individuals with other conditions to make up work, they must allow a pregnant woman that same opportunity. Regardless if the school tries to tell you that it's up to each professor, it is federal law that you're allowed to make up any missed work.

Additionally, health coverage and related services should be provided to pregnant students in the same manner as services that are provided to students with “temporary disabilities.” You should also be entitled to receive services like at-home tutoring, or special seating in the classroom if necessary.

3. Never Take Advantage Of Excused Absences

Your pregnancy should never be used as a free pass to skip assignments. Though you may need a few extra excused absences, never take advantage of them. Your professors, while encouraging your pregnancy, will still expect you to deliver hard work and dedication. It is also this hard work and dedication that will motivate you to get through the emotional times that come with being a pregnant student.

4. Seek Support In Family, Friends & Faculty

Finding out you're pregnant when you're in graduate school can be very daunting, particularly if the pregnancy wasn't planned. The good thing however is that there are a wide range of services to support you during pregnancy and after you've had your baby. 

Sorting out problems, whether personal or medical, is often difficult when you're alone. Seek support in family, friends, or resources on your campus to help make your pregnancy more manageable while in school.

5.Support Yourself

Remind yourself that you can make it through and both your baby and education is important to you. Don't feel guilty about needing to take more frequent breaks or sit down more often; just do whatever needs to be done to keep yourself going.

6. Take Action Against Any Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a woman unfavorably because of pregnancy, or childbirth. Discriminatory treatment of pregnant women is illegal. If it happens, document each occurrence and discuss it with your department head. If that doesn’t work, take further action and report it to human resources.

The different types of unlawful discrimination are:

  • Direct Discrimination: occurs when a person or group of people are treated different from another person or group of people because of a projected characteristic.
  • Indirect Discrimination: occurs when there is a rule or policy that applies to everyone, but disadvantages a person or group of people with a particular projected characteristic.
  • Associative Discrimination: occurs when a person or group of people is discriminated against because they are associated with another person or group of people who have a particular characteristic.
  • Discrimination by Perception: occurs when a person or group of people is directly discriminated against because others perceive that person or group of people as having a particular protected characteristic.
  • Harassment: occurs when there is certain behavior given to a recipient or a group of recipients and that recipient or group of recipients deems the behavior as invasive or offensive.

7. Balance Your School Life & Pregnant Life

Focusing on school is important, but focusing on your pregnancy is just as important. Your pregnancy should never be put on the back burner. Creating a proper school/life balance will keep you healthy, both mentally and physically. After all, you’re pregnant. Just as you take notes for study, keep a detailed journal of your pregnancy as well.

Don't let being pregnant stop you from completing your studies. The banner below leads you to Campus Explorer an app that helps you find schools in your area. Simply enter your educational and geolocation information and the app will suggest schools to you based on your input. It's so easy to use it's worth the time it takes to find a school and program you're interested in.

8. Seek Financial Aid

Pregnant women attending graduate school face extreme challenges. The costs associated with graduate school and the cost of living have been on a steady incline throughout the past decade. However, the high cost of college doesn’t have to be a roadblock. Fortunately, many organizations offer financial grants or scholarships for pregnant women who wish to continue their studies. 

So, if you’re pregnant in graduate school, or looking to get into graduate school, there are a handful of scholarships and other financial aid options available to you. When hunting for a scholarship, look for those that are only applicable to moms. Moreover, if you're pregnant, but not married, you can also find plenty of scholarships for single moms. 

If you want to find a scholarship that is intended for mothers or single mothers, you should be looking at organizations that are aimed at supporting young mothers in challenging situations.

Managing pregnancies while in pursuit of a graduate degree seems to be an overshadowed forefront of conventional advice for graduate students. Why? It’s quite the taboo topic. However, being pregnant while obtaining a graduate degree is possible, and with the right knowledge and support, a pregnant woman should have no problem receiving her graduate degree. Though it may not be at the most convenient time in your life, becoming a mother is the greatest gift a woman can be granted. 


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