Pregnancy in College: Hard, but Not Impossible

Posted: March 13, 2018 8:00:00 AM CDT

Baby shoes

A typical college student’s biggest struggles consist of deciding which classes to take, what to eat for supper, and whether it is a good idea to stay out late. It is true – college is incredibly hard at times, but it becomes immensely hard if you become pregnant. According to a recent review by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (2014), a large portion of women who get pregnant in college end up dropping out temporarily or permanently. This is due in part to discrimination and a lack of awareness of rights through Title IX (National Women's Law Center, 2011). I am currently pregnant with twins (my first babies), and I will be a single mom. Here is my word of advice to fellow soon-to-be moms: I know finishing college may seem impossible, but I promise, there are resources out there to achieve your dreams. Earning a degree is essential to providing your children the best future possible. Here is my word of advice to fellow soon-to-be moms: I know finishing college may seem impossible, but I promise there are resources out there to achieve your dreams. Earning a degree is essential to providing your children the best future possible.

Rights of pregnant women

Being pregnant does not mean you have to quit college. Depending on your personal preference, you can temporarily take a break from school or continue attending class. The option I support wholeheartedly is online schooling because it allows a student the freedom to remain full-time and stay on-track for completing that degree. Keep in mind, an institution cannot discriminate against someone for being pregnant. Under Title IX, pregnant women have a right to stay in school to finish their education and achieve their career goals. This encompasses access to school programs and educational opportunities provided for other students. In accordance with Title IX, an institution cannot penalize absences due to pregnancy if a doctor’s note is provided. Current education status must be reinstated when a mother returns from leave, and professors cannot penalize a student’s grades due to pregnancy issues. Students must be provided with opportunities to make up participation points and homework they may have missed. Any student is allowed to file a complaint if they think the law is being violated. Title IX is a move toward equality, but there are still many struggles people experience during their pregnancy.

Downsides to pregnancy in college

Pregnancy quickly forces a young woman to become a mature adult, which is hard for anyone to prepare themselves for. It is emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting to balance a plethora of new stressors. On top of that, many stigmas and stereotypes surround young mothers. Any young mom can attest to the strain of people looking at you as though it is the biggest mistake of your life. People constantly wonder how finishing school is an option, adding that the whole process is going to “suck” because you are giving up your freedom. Society is set up against pregnant college students, advising mothers to either drop out of college or give the baby up for adoption. Not only do young women face stereotypes, but they also have to give up simple things such as going out with friends.

My experience

I will be the first person to say that so far my pregnancy has been one struggle after another. In a matter of a week, those “fun” aspects of my 20s went out the window to make room for diaper changes and late-night feedings. It is funny how the universe works because I was thrown through another loop once I had made peace with being pregnant. That loop was that not only was there one little human growing inside me, but two!


Pregnancy symptoms with twins are definitely worse than with a single baby. Doctors do not lie when they say you are twice as sick, twice as tired and twice as miserable when pregnant with twins. I am in my second trimester and am as large as a singleton mom at full term. This means the swelling, discomfort, and shortness of breath sensation people experience at the end of pregnancy hit me early and has consistently stuck around for the last two months. Not only are the physical symptoms rough, but it truly is mentally and emotionally exhausting to be pregnant and in college. Mentally, I am exhausted from having to split my attention between school, work and getting prepared for the babies. Emotionally, it is exhausting because people either judge me for being young, single and pregnant or they give me looks of pity for those same reasons. I have had people ask me if I actually intend to keep the babies, been accused of being selfish for continuing school, and told I was a disappointment by one family member. Hormones make it a million times harder not to be hurt by remarks!


However, there is a silver lining. My UNK professors and advisor have been amazing. They have accommodated me when I have had rough days and they have been understanding when I could not come to class. My advisor has been a huge help in making online classes full time next semester a possibility. You have to remember that you are not alone. You have the help out there to achieve your goals, you just have to look for it. Lastly, for myself, this has been the hardest situation I have faced in my life. I may be a mother before I had planned, but it is the greatest journey I could be on and it gives my life a whole new level of importance and meaning.

Editor’s Note:

The author recently gave birth to two healthy girls, and mom and babies are doing well!

References:


Blake, D. (2016, July 30). 5 things every pregnant college student should know. Retrieved from https://collegesuccessformoms.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/5-things-every-pregnant-college-student-should-know/ on 10/31/2017

Institute for Women's Policy Research (2014, November). 4.8 million college students are raising children. Retrieved from https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/wpallimport/files/iwpr-export/publications/C424_Student%20Parents_final.pdf on 3/1/2018

National Women's Law Center. (2011, July 21). Pregnant and parenting students’ rights: FAQs for college and graduate students. Retrieved from https://nwlc.org/resources/pregnant-and-parenting-students-rights-faqs-college-and-graduate-students/ on 10/31/2017


Taylor, S. K. (2014, July 09). Young mothers balance college and parenting. Retrieved from http://college.usatoday.com/2012/07/18/young-mothers-balance-college-and-parenting/ on 10/31/2017

By: McKenzie Ironshell

Category: Psychology, General

blog comments powered by Disqus