So… just how hard is it to have a newborn while in college?

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My husband and I just started our first year of college together (he’s 25 and I’m 22). We just got married, but our problem is that we both want a baby, but aren’t sure if its such a good idea. He’s in a music recording program and I’m taking a Graphic Design program.

Could I maybe get some advice on this matter from other mummies who have given birth while in college? My mother did it 22 years ago… but that was 22 years ago. — Emerald

Did you have a child while you were a young student? What were the challenges? What was awesome about it?

Comments on So… just how hard is it to have a newborn while in college?

  1. I decided to quit my job, have a baby, and then start graduate school at 9 months. My classes are in the afternoon and at night, so I thought I would just be able to trade off with my partner when he came home from work. It turned out I needed a babysitter for my early class days (long commutes) and a babysitter to do homework. I am shoving homework into every available crevice of time and it’s exhausting. Vacations from school is just a return to full time parenting, not really a vacation- but, there’s never really a break from parenting. I think it’s different for everyone, depending on what kind of a program you’re in and how much childcare you want/can afford. Just do not count on getting any homework done while the baby’s awake!

    • Oh, and as far as giving birth actually *while* in college, it might depend on your programs. You’d have to take a semester or three off after giving birth, which is why I decided not to start until after mine was born. Unless the courses you need to take are widely available, this would probably throw everything off and make college take much longer than it would otherwise. And then there’s dealing with pumping and/or engorgement at school. And you might have the type of baby who only wants to be with mommy or won’t take a bottle. There’s so many variables!

      • My son was due in early January, so I attended the fall semester up to that point, then took an online course and an independent study the semester he was born. So while that wouldn’t work out as perfectly for everyone, I was able to keep going straight through pregnancy and childbirth.

  2. It’s crazy how things, like this gem, get posted right when i am needing it!
    I am going back to school to get a second degree. i’m 25, married, and I have been a nanny for the last 4 years. So i do think I have a unique perspective, and I also think it is do-able! we are just starting to try to conceive. finger’s crossed.
    I love all the advice, and insight :o)

  3. We have been doing it since Spring 2010 with a 7yr old and an almost 4 month old. Every semester: spring, summer, fall, we enroll in full time 15-18 hours each.Because I chose to breastfeed I take a combination of online and onsite courses. It is definitely not for the faint of heart and you must be extremely good at budgeting both time and money. So far so good and no loans yet!! He is on track to getting his BS next Fall 2012. I will join him in spring 2013….Btw he is 28 I am 29. He has a GPA of 3.8 and is an Honor Student. I have a GPA of 3.0.

  4. just another perspective: since you are newly married, consider spending a year or more with just your husband so the two of you can bond and solidify your relationship. You won’t regret that time alone spent together.

  5. How hard? Very.

    How doable? Very.

    My husband and I had our first when I was a junior in undergrad and he was applying to graduate school and now, almost three years later, I’m glad we had our son (and now daughter too) when we did. It was TOUGH. My husband was out of town a lot for school and I was with my family in the meantime, so it paid BIG TIME to have our families nearby. I took only online classes for my non-science courses the Spring semester after we had our son (he was born in December) and did all of my school work at night and sporadically throughout the day.

    We credit family and random blessings along the way for things going smoothly.

    Again, it’s doable, but align as many of your ducks as possible beforehand (i.e. set finances aside, try to have family close by, plan for a semester off if need be, etc.)

  6. I think if you want something badly enough it is possible. I am a full-time student, I have three kids(4years, 3 years and 18 months) and I work full-time. We also home school my 4 year old. I have a huge advantage because my partner doesn’t work but I still spend most of my weekdays with my little ones. It’s busy and hectic and I would forget to brush my teeth somedays if I didnt leave myself a note(j/k) but we get through. I havent tried this while being pregnant but we have been talking about trying to conceive again soon.
    I think that if you decide that this is what you really want right now then go for it. You never know what tomorrow will bring. 🙂

  7. I’m a single mother – been single since I was pregnant. I started college when I was pregnant. I recently graduated from law school – my daughter was 8 years old. (Where I’m from, undergraduate goes for 4 years, and law school goes for 3 more. I took a year off in between to work and save up some money.)

    Much of what people have shared here was also true for me: I was tired; I was broke; my time management skills were kickass due to necessity (definitely not innate talent); my large and loving tribe was enormously important; I felt (and feel) enormous pride in my accomplishments.

    I also wanted to say that in my experience, being in school was often a benefit to my daughter. Some examples: A. My schedule was much more flexible than it would have been if I’d had a 9-5 job – I was able to be present for my daughter much more of the time than if I’d been working 40+ hours a week. B. Because I had wonderful professors (and a cooperative child), I sometimes got to bring my daughter with me to class, which was really great for both of us. (She slept through night classes as an infant; she played on the floor in torts class as a small girl.) C. When it came time to get her on a sleep schedule, I was pretty rigid about it because Mama had to study – as a result my kid has been going to bed at 7:30 without a fuss since she was 2, and this has worked really well for both of us.

    My daughter walked across the commencement stage with me when I graduated from law school, and I’m pretty sure neither one of us has ever felt so proud. Going through it all together feels really special.

  8. My daughter was born in January. I started back to school the summer after she was born. I took a class that met on the weekends–I would text my husband my break times, and he would bring me snacks and the baby so that I could breastfeed (I never mastered pumping).

    When our daughter was 8 months old, I went back to school full time. It was hard. It was awesome! I felt like going to school–pursuing my dreams–balanced the overwhelming pressure of being this tiny person’s world. There is no reason to put your lives on hold because of a baby. If you decide that going to school and having a newborn isn’t the best choice for you that’s cool too, but let’s face it, college is always going to be hard, and there will always be reasons to hold off on having kids.

  9. I had a baby while in college and I dropped out for several years. But I was also working full time. I think it’s more easily done if you don’t work in an outside job. I have a good friend who just had her third and now has three girls under 5, and she maintains a 4.0 in her premed courses. But school and being a mommy is all she does, and she and her husband live with her parents so they have LOTS of support.

  10. I am in Seminary right now (which is a 4 year masters program). My husband and I are both 27 and want more than just a couple of kids, so we decided we’d better start trying now. We’ve had great parental role models on campus to show us how it can be done (and very successfully I might add).

    I just entered my third trimester (due the end of January). I have dropped my courseload from 16-18 credits (which it’s been for the last few semesters) to 13 credits for the spring semester once the baby comes(the minimum I can squeeze by with while still being full time). I also set my schedule up around how hard the classes are. So for instance, I know that 5.5 of those credits are taught by very hard graders and will demand a lot of mental energy, but I also know that 4.5 credits will be VERY easy and still fulfill requirements for my degree track. The remaining 3 credits is a visiting professor, but this visiting professor HAS to be more reasonable than the prof who usually teaches this class who is on sabbatical in the spring. The seminary environment makes it a little easier to have a child because all of my professors were parish pastors at one point or another and almost all of them are parents and know the hardships that young families face. As a result, many new parents simply bring their young babies to class with them. We can breastfeed in class (as long as we’re covered of course) and still learn while having our babies close to us. I know not all colleges allow for that, but you may want to just test the waters with your professors and see how many might allow you to bring the baby with you to class. Many of my classmates love children (and are responsible), so once he is too old to bring to class (once he starts running around on his own) I plan on asking friends from around campus to babysit for me while I’m in class.

    Financially, we’ll manage somehow. I’ve been told by many people that if you wait til you think you can afford a baby, you’ll never have one. Nothing can prepare you fully for parenthood. I’ve taken little odd jobs around campus which pay in lump sums at the beginning of hte semester, I also do freelance preaching for pastors who need a Sunday off (which allows me to earn some income but with an extremely flexible schedule). My husband works full time in a warehouse, and takes one or two classes a semester at the local community college as he is still working on finishing his bachelors degree. We are cloth diapering which will save about $3000 per child. A lot of hte baby clothes and gear we’ve recieved have been hand me downs (which are free and still work great, also, hand me down clothing tends to be WAY cuter and brighter than the new stuff they have for boys!). And I’m breastfeeding, which is of course free food 🙂

    If you feel called to parenthood, I say take the leap and go for it. The right time is when you and your partner feel ready emotionally to bring new life into the world 🙂

  11. I waited until after I finished my degrees to have a child and I am now so thankful that I did. I can’t imagine sleepless days and nights having to function and participate in education. I am a stay at home mom currently and I love knowing that my child has my attention full-time, and it lessened my stress as I tend to stress out majorly. I have known many people who have a child or children and attend school but they always say it was the hardest and they felt that their children were left all to often with sitters. Just my two cents.

  12. I was pregnant in my final year of my undergrad. This worked because my pregnancy was very easy. I had intended on doing my master’s directly afterward, which would have meant that I gave birth in my first semester. I’m so glad that the head of department convinced me to take a deferral and did the paperwork to make that a reality. Despite having an easy birth and quick recovery, being a new mama has been a huge transition for me. I can’t imagine splitting my focus between my new daughter and school. She takes up so much of my time and energy (and I’m grateful for every moment). If you decide to become a parent during your college years, you might want to think about how you will cope if you have a difficult pregnancy or birth and how whether you want to breastfeed. I thought it would be easy to go to classes and do homework and breastfeed before giving birth. Now, I can’t imagine how I would either of those things, particularly in the first 6 weeks after birth. At my school we have subsidized child care, but it doesn’t start until the child is 12 weeks old. My advice to you would be to wait to start trying until you’re done most of your degree.

  13. I have a 2.5 yr old that I had during my junior year of college, and I still haven’t finished (I actually moved to Europe to be with the dad, so it isn’t all baby’s fault). You are YOUNG! Men don’t really have a biological clock. Look at Hugh Hefner. he’s like a million years old and has healthy kids barely in their 20s. I’m not familiar with the rigors of your programs, but as far as age is concerned, it’s yours that really matters. So if you finish your coursework at 26 (?) that’s almost 10 years of baby-bearing age left. Unless your last name is Dugger, I think that should be plenty of time to have the number of children you want 😉 I love my little man, but things definitely would be easier if we had him later.

  14. I did that! It is TOUGH but not impossible, especially if you have a good support system and can find affordable child care (for me, this meant my mother until Pookie was about 3). I kept my courseload to part-time, which meant less student aid and slower walk to graduation, but better grades, a better rested me, and a happier baby. Of course at the time her dad was still involved, and working full time, so I could do that (financially). He was gone before she was two, but I’ll always be grateful he hung around for that first year and made the first scary step of Going Back possible. Make friends. Lots of friends. Ones that don’t mind passing the baby around in a study group. Whatever you do, don’t get attached to rosy pictures of How It Will Be (though that’s true any impending parenthood) and do not for one minute think you can get any studying done while the baby is awake, or that any plans made ahead of time will work out the way you envisioned. Just like working with an infant this will mean large chunks of time away from baby. I would have a back up exit strategy in place, if I was you. I also know a couple with two children while dad works on his chiropractic degree and mom works on an undergrad in nutrition. Mom worked when their oldest was a baby and swears up and down she got more time with the second as an infant when she was in school instead. On the other hand their relationship is pretty strained right now from the financial stress and the work of balancing things so that they both get time to study and do their fair share of all the other stuff. But hey that can happen in any relationship.

  15. I am not a parent, but I just graduated from a four year graphic design program this year, and I’d just like to point out a couple of things based on my experience.

    My program was very fine art based, so that meant I took a lot of studio classes. Studio classes last anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours. Especially in the upper level classes, you can spend anywhere from 8-12 hours at a stretch doing work in the studio. Not only that, but they can be physically grueling. If you’re painting a 6 foot canvas or using the printing press (which is HEAVY!!!!) in printmaking, you will be away from home the majority of the time, and when you come home, you will be EXHAUSTED. The bigger point is, it is not work you can take home with you.

    For graphic design in particular, if you don’t have the programs you need on your own laptop, you will have to use the labs. The hours can vary drastically and it can be a nightmare trying to schedule time to work in the lab when it is open and then get to a printer (like Kinko’s) to print and then put together your project in time for class. And then what happens if the lab is full/closed/computers are dysfunctional? Too bad. Your professors will have no sympathy for you.

    Factor in being sick or commuting or balancing other classes with this…just try to take all of these things into consideration before you decide.

  16. My husband and I had planned on getting pregnant while I was about 4 months from graduating. While I hate that it took us two years, I’m glad I didn’t get pregnant while I was still in school. I wouldn’t have graduated that semester. I got so sick in the beginning that I lost 20 lbs and had to quit my job.
    While that probably won’t happen to you, (hypermesis is rare) it is something to think about. Now that my daughter is here, I can’t imagine not being the one with her all day.

  17. I would imagine it would be rather hard to plan a pregnancy around the school year.

    You could try and plan on giving birth in the summer, but what if it takes you a while to conceive? I don’t really know how professors handle students who are due when the semester is going on. What happens if you end up having a c section, or end up on bed rest? You might be indisposed for several days or longer.

    After you give birth you have to deal with trying to learn how to care for a newborn, your hormones going crazy and your body is worn out from lack of sleep and giving birth. Its hard to get a shower in or eat a decent meal, I couldn’t imagine having to type out a paper too.

    Don’t underestimate sleep deprivation, it really affects the mind.

    And most daycares I know of won’t take a newborn under a certian age, even when they are old enough its usually more expensive and there are fewer spots for infants.

    Not trying to completely discourage you, I just had my baby 7 weeks ago and up until becoming pregnant was going to school. I was a very good student but would never be able to handle the stress of both a newborn and midterms.

  18. I’m 24 and my husband is 23 and we have a 10 month old right now. I was pregnant in college and haven’t taken a break since. He works nights and I do school all day, even during the summer. You can do anything if you are commited to it and keep yourself motivated. I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it. It’s all about time management and keeping yourself balanced. IIt can be done and I am living proof of that. I maintained a 3.94 average through pregnancy, the newborn stage and even now as my son approaches his first year!

  19. My daughter was born during my last semester of undergraduate. I started law school when she was 18 months old. I will be finishing this May.

    School with kids is hard, but no more difficult than maintaining a full time job with kids.

  20. I have to speak from personal experience on this one. Its definitely the hardest thing you will ever do. I have to say, I love my son, but if you even have a hint of depression in your life, then think about it long and hard before having a child. I had some serious post-partum depression and ended up dropping out and moving back home. He’ll be 2 in July and i’m finally in a place where i’m thinking about going back, but its definitely daunting.

  21. I realize this is old, but I just thought I would throw in my $.02. I unexpectedly got pregnant my third (but sophomore, iykwim) year in college. I was 21 and had just transferred out of state to a new school. I made the decision to both stay and have the baby and take care of it on my own. It was tough, but it worked out for me. Here’s how I did it.

    -“Maternity Leave” (in quotes bc obvs this doesn’t really exist in the academic world): From the time I found out I was pregnant I worked as much as possible and saved up money so that I could spend the summer home with my daughter. She was due April 22, a little less than two weeks before finals. I worked it out with my teachers to either write a paper or take a pro tired exam over the summer to complete my coursework.

    -Chilcare: I went to a traditional four year stte university that had a campus daycare. The wait list was long (like sign up as soon as that second line shows up long), but the childcare was phenomenal.

    -Work: I worked on campus. I received state childcare assistance that paid for childcare while I worked, but not while I was in school. However, since my hours were varied and scheduled around my classes I was able to send her to daycare all day.

    -Financial Considerations: I applied for every scholarship and financial aid opportunity I heard about. I also relied on WIC and food stamps to help provide for us. In my senior year I was finally approved for sliding fee scale housing through a local non-profit that helped greatly. We were also on medicaid the entire time i was in school. I know people frown on these things, but for me it was worh it if I could get my education and provide for my daughter.

    Whatever you decide I’m sure you will not regret it! Good luck and happy breeding!

  22. I had twins just after I started my masters studies in biology. The fatigue was hellish, and I will always have bad memories of sitting at my desk at 3am running endless statistical models while attached to a double electric breast pump. But thanks to the timing of my due date (late summer) I was able to handle a month of bed rest and take 7 weeks at home following the birth before the next semester began. I compressed all my classes into two days a week and had a nanny for on-campus days. This meant carrying a breast pump everywhere. The biggest problem was a lack of collaborative time with others in my program or even my thesis committee members, since I was always rushing home once class was over. I definitely missed out on cooperative and networking opportunities, which ultimately meant I did not publish my research findings. Six years later, I am glad I didn’t wait to finish grad school. It was worth the heavy, though temporary, financial and physical burden.

  23. I’m not sure how intense the programs are that you are enrolled in. I took 5 years to get my bachelor’s degree in nursing and the program is known for being a total ass kicker. I started school when my daughter was 5 months old and I just finished this May. It was a lot of work, I was a single parent until she was almost 4 years old. But, IMHO with both of you in school and having a newborn baby it would be a lot more “do-able” with a live in grandparent for the first few months. That is how another student in the program had her home life set up. She lived with her parents and her boyfriend and it seems like a really great thing to have all that support, if you can! Especially for your first child. Best of luck with whatever you choose. I chose to complete 2 years of part time coursework online and at night at a local community college before transferring in to a large public university to spend more time with my daughter. I was blessed in that even as a single mother she didn’t have to go to day care until she was almost 2 when I transferred away from my family. I felt like college was the only way to ensure I could take care of her as a single parent. At the end of the day, you can always go back to school, the fact is, you won’t have that child as a newborn again.

  24. From experience, I would not not not recommend it. Unless you have great supports that are willing to take a good deal of physical and emotional responsibility for the child, don’t. Unless you’re willing to take a semester off, don’t. Of course, this is just my opinion, but my experience was disastrous because I didn’t have these things, and I would never wish it on anyone.

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