For many women, resuming their education following the addition of a new baby is rewarding. Women may take pride progressing toward their goals, despite the challenges. Educational institutions usually do not have policies to support the transition to parenthood. Until change to the structure of US education is achieved, the semester does not stop when baby is born. New moms can unfairly be caught in the middle of competing goals, caring for themselves, adjusting to motherhood, and protecting the health for their families. Knowing your school’s policies, your rights as a student, and preparing to the extent possible can help with the infant care, financial costs, transportation, and time, that impact student moms’ success.
Some strategies that might help:
Build your academic support system – maybe it is your partner, a parent, mentor, or friend. Find someone you trust to understand you and your needs and support you in the ways you need.
Ask for help! Take advantage of the resources available from your teachers, advisors, local and community childcare and resource support, and your peers! Learning to accept and ask for help can be hard, but so important in the 4th Trimester and beyond.
Communicate with your teachers and advisors – make it a point to contact your professors, class/team peers, and advisors, so they are updated on your efforts. They can also help you manage your academic and family responsibilities.
Be resourceful – school is an investment! Make sure you are aware of any subsidized or free tutoring or classes, library resources, supplies and textbooks. Perhaps becoming a parent will qualify you for dedicated services and supports.
One step at a time – in the throes of a busy week and growing to-do list taking a breath and figuring out how to prioritize is important. Remember: grades are important, but at the end of the day, it might not really ever matter to your future employer if you got an A+ on a paper or a class. School paired with the work of caring for an infant means focusing on what matters and perhaps letting perfectionism go at this stage in your life. You may decide to take time away from studies and resume at a time that makes sense for you.
Finally, Remember why you started. It may not be easy, but being realistic, and staying positive and motivated will do wonders as you complete your courses.
What are tips that helped you? Hear from other moms about their return to classroom experiences here.
Here are ways to find mom support groups near you – often helpful to talk about these big milestones.
- Give yourself grace!
- Talk to other moms at your school or in your class. This can be helpful and a great way to get tips.
- Use free curbside pick up for groceries or other household needs that you can purchase online.
- Revisit your organization system. Your current planner/calendar may not be enough to keep up with new schedules and transitions.
- Give space for “mommy brain”, take on less than you normally could accomplish easily prior to birthing your baby.
- Work on tasks that involve you moving around or “being busy” if you have the option….because sitting for long bouts of time may be hard to do because its harder to focus when you return.
Understanding your rights
Federal and state legislation requires schools/universities to ensure that pregnant and parenting students are adequately accommodated. Learn more.
National Women’s Law Center has a great toolkit that covers everything from your rights as a pregnant or parenting student, such as housing, time-off, childcare, financial aid, and discrimination. It also has information about how to report discrimination.
Additional Resources to Explore:
- Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education (H.R.2617)
- Know Your Rights (U.S. Department of Education)
- Are you a pregnant athlete? Here’s information for you.
- National Women’s Law Center Pregnant and Parent Students’ Rights FAQs for College and Grad Students
- The Pregnant Scholar: Helpful Handouts
- A Guide for College & Graduate Students
- A Guide for High School Students