Pregnant and Going Back to School

by Pregnancy.org Staff pregnant woman at computer"Weebles wobble but they don't fall down..." Packing in a little more of YOU this school year? Being pregnant during the school year poses its own set of challenges. We tapped our Pregnancy.org moms and moms-to-be brain trust for the essential school survival tips. You never know when these simple ideas and tips can come in handy! Share yours in the comments!

Meeting the Classroom Challenge

Pregnancy brain

Keeping track of assignments can test your otherwise positive psyche.

I'm super forgetful so I plan on using the 'Sticky Note' app on my phone to keep track of assignments and when things are due. ~Ashley Pregnancy.org member.

I'm so tired!

Which pregnancy-related symptom tops the "ugh" list? Most expecting students say fatigue affects their school performance even more than nausea. Our suggestion? Get to bed early and try to sneak a nap between classes. We know easier said than done, but it really helps!

Afternoon burnout

It's 2 p.m. and wiped out. You don't know how you'll make it another two minutes much less through the next class. How can you energize yourself?

  • Eat a healthy snack. Fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter, or string cheese can help. The protein wakes up your brain and for an afternoon class that's a priority. The complex carbohydrate slowly releases energy to carry you through the rest of the afternoon.
  • Go for a walk. A brisk five-minute walk gets your blood pumping.

School hazards

Does your class schedule require you to use or be near solvents, paint thinners, paint, fumes or other harmful chemicals? Is there a chance you'll be exposed to radiation? If you're shaking your head "yes," you'll need to take steps to protect your baby.

Consider online education

Online classes offer you the convenience and comfort of home. It's also easier to prop-up bunny-slippered feet.

The First Trimester

Morning sickness

Ever notice "morning sickness" strikes at the worst times? You feel perfectly fine one moment and then a trigger of smells, a word, or suggestion, or something completely unexplained sends you and your tummy reeling!

I got slammed by major "morning" sickness. I kept a small batch of crackers to nibble on during class and sat near the exit, just in case. Fortunately, I made it without barfing in class! ~Rachel, returning student and Pregnancy.org member

Extra potty breaks

"Go" before class even if you think you don't have to. You'll insist your preschooler do the same later.

Your Second Trimester

Feeding the baby

If your baby and body shout "feed me!" regularly and insistently, come to school prepared. Pack easy-to-eat and healthy snacks. Some easy and inexpensive suggestions: apple slices and peanut butter, crackers and cheese, dried fruits and nuts.

As cheesy as the commercials for "Pack-It" are, it really works! I keep all my cold snacks in there, carrots, yogurt and my other food in baggies in my purse. ~Ashley, returning student and Pregnancy.org member

Dealing with stress

Finals, presentations, term papers -- panicking yet? When you feel anxious, take a deep breath. Slowly count to yourself: one, two, three, four. Pause, then exhale: one, two, three, four. Repeat this a couple of times. These mini breaks can lower your racing pulse, reduce blood pressure and help your body find its way back to "calm."

Taking a short walk or even dancing around my living room to rotten 80's music was the perfect stress buster for me during mid-terms. ~Piper, returning student and Pregnancy.org member

Plan ahead

Most students receive a syllabus with dates of when major projects and reports due. Take advantage of the extra second trimester energy and use it to your advantage. Get the more time-consuming "prep" work out of the way now. Your third trimester self will thank you!

The Third Trimester

Big and beautiful

Do aches and pains have you dreading school? Opt for comfortable shoes for that trek across campus. Toss on a maternity support garment. Look closely at your backpack and purse -- do you really need everything in it? You're already toting extra pounds with baby and water weight, why add to it? Bring reusable cold packs to use on your aching muscles.

During a two to three hour lecture, sitting in an uncozy seat, a back pillow is a MUST. ~Ashley, returning student and Pregnancy.org member

Just as you thought you couldn't get any clumsier, you drop things, your hands tingle and typing hurts. Sure it will go away once baby's born, but how are you going to make it through the next ten weeks with papers galore all due? Use these tips to help:

  • Sleep with your hands up on pillows so extra fluid moves to another part of your body
  • Take as many breaks from the keyboard as you can
  • Change position. For example, lower your computer keyboard so you wrist are angled downward
  • Wear a wrist brace or stabilizer
  • Shake your hands vigorously several times a day (don't get crazy)
  • Spend a few minutes squeezing a stress ball every day to flex those hand muscles
  • Ask about physical therapy or other treatments

Just in case

Know the location of the campus students' med center as well as the nearest hospital.

On the Home Front

Success in the classroom depends on the support you get from home, especially while you're pregnant.

  1. Delegate! Enlist help with dinner, cleaning, laundry -- everything but writing your term paper as that would be cheating! Ask again if your volunteers aren't stepping up. You're not living with mind-readers, so speak up about what you need to be done.
  2. Prior planning: Try preparing double amounts of food on the weekend and freezing the dishes. Pop fixings in the crock-pot on low and enjoy.
  3. Let it slide: Guess what? The world won't end if you leave one load of laundry today or you don't get the dusting done until the weekend. Cut yourself some slack where you can and then play catch up later.

Pregnancy Positives!

Our Pregnancy.org members offer their words of encouragement as you strive towards a degree and a new baby on the horizon!

Don't give up! Completing your degree benefits your family -- for years to come! You CAN DO IT! ~Dana, formerly pregnant student turned graduate and Pregnancy.org member

Accept help from others, don't sweat the small stuff, and enjoy your pregnancy. Just think! In a few short years, your little one will be the one in class and you can just smile!

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