Studying while pregnant – our top tips
Have you just found out that you’re pregnant? Or are you a student who is considering starting a family in the future?
Pregnancy is an exciting and life-changing time. However, it doesn’t mean that your studies must come to an end. Over the years, our Student Support team have helped dozens of students to achieve their qualifications while pregnant.
Want to learn more? Read our top tips for studying while pregnant…
Coping with morning sickness
Morning sickness (or ‘all day sickness’ as it should really be called!) can be debilitating for many women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Trying to continue your everyday responsibilities can be difficult, and sometimes just sitting down to write an assignment or read a textbook can feel like a huge challenge.
While there is no ‘cure’ for morning sickness, some popular remedies include food that contains ginger (e.g. ginger biscuits or ginger tea), mint or “plain foods such as potatoes, pasta, rice, and dry crackers”1. It’s also important to get plenty of rest, and to drink lots of water.
Try to tackle your assignments and reading in short sessions, making sure you take enough breaks for rests and snack breaks.
Although studies have shown that stress does not harm your unborn baby2, it can still make life very unpleasant during pregnancy. Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
If your studies are causing you to feel anxious or stressed, take the time to rest and relax between assessments. It’s also good to talk to your classmates, your Student Support Adviser, a partner or a family member. A healthy diet and hydration will also help your body feel stronger and more able to cope with anxiety.
If you start to feel overwhelmed, speak to your midwife or doctor as soon as you can; they may be able to offer you medication or therapy.
Throughout pregnancy, it can sometimes feel that your “to-do” list grows longer every day. Mums-to-be have to consider baby purchases, work commitments, antenatal appointments, scan dates and so much more! In addition to this, online students also need to remember assignment deadlines, discussion forum tasks and reading requirements.
Draw up a schedule or keep a calendar of all your commitments to make sure you avoid a clash of dates. Getting organised early on will help you to spot potential problems and adjust your study schedule accordingly. Speak to your Student Adviser as early as possible; they will be able to help you make the best plan regarding your future modules so that you can schedule a study break near your due date. If you don’t do this, you may receive a fail mark if you don’t submit a piece of work.
Maintaining your motivation
Preparing for the arrival of something as life-changing as a baby can sometimes make you question your other commitments. However, it’s important to remember that studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree has the potential to improve your career for many years to come.
You may decide to take a career break after the birth of your child, but your qualification will still be a valuable asset on your CV/resume for the rest of your life.
Studying isn’t just about improving your career; having the self-discipline and drive to improve your education will boost your confidence, communication skills, decision-making abilities and much more.
Ask for help
Juggling family, career and study commitments can be hard work. Throw pregnancy into the mix and even for the most organised person, things can sometimes become too overwhelming.
Our best advice in this situation is to reach out to those closest to you. Friends and family are almost always willing to help out; don’t be proud, take them up on that offer! Perhaps your parents could take your children out for the day to give you time to focus on an assignment? Or maybe your neighbour could babysit for an hour or two? And maybe your colleague could swap shifts for a few days? You’ll never know unless you ask!
Speak to your Student Adviser
We’ve left our biggest and best tip until last – speak to your dedicated Student Support Adviser. When you find out that you’re pregnant, just pick up the phone or write a quick email and your Adviser will be able to discuss your options and your next steps.
Your Adviser will probably have helped many students before with similar concerns, and may be able to suggest options that are open to you that you were not aware of.
Remember, the sooner you can inform your Student Support Adviser of any personal circumstances affecting you, the better they can support and advise you.