At 16 weeks pregnant and just 8 weeks away from graduating I know more than I ever thought I would about the life of a pregnant college student. Of all the struggles I have faced during my college career, this semester has been my most difficult for several reasons: From constant morning sickness (that hasn’t subsided) to not fitting in the college desks, to name a few. Furthermore, I have come to realize that of all the blog posts I have published, my post, “5 Things Every Pregnant College Student Should Know,” has the most hits — every day at least 30 people land on that page after googling such phrases as “pregnant in college” or “pregnancy rights for college students.” I also realize just how fortunate I am to have such a great support system both at home and on campus because most pregnant college students are single, under 25, and have little-to-no support. They aren’t aware of their rights and they feel sick, tired, and above all, hopeless. So, as students, administrators, faculty, and fellow moms what can you do to support these students? Let me give you a few pieces of advice:
To administrators and faculty: Educate yourselves and offer your voice. If you don’t already know what rights a pregnant student has under Title IX then learn those rights and adhere to them. Every student who enters your classroom deserves a fair chance at success so be sure to give them that. One thing to consider is your attendance policy. Pregnant students might not be able to adhere to a strict attendance policy, especially if they are experiencing severe morning sickness or they develope one of the various complications that can arise during the 40 weeks of pregnancy. Be mindful of that and encourage your student to communicate with you. Additionally, if you notice a student who is struggling, do your best to educate them on their rights as well because they probably aren’t aware of them.
To other students: Offer your help. We get so caught up in our own world and our own struggles that we can’t see the struggles that the people around us are facing. If you see a pregnant student who needs help: help her! This can be offering to hold something, giving her your seat in the classroom, holding the elevator door as she is trying to catch it before it leaves, or offering to give her your notes when she misses class. Don’t just be kind, though. Instead, practice patience. Pregnant women are on a roller coaster of emotions and are also physically limited at times. Be patient with these students, you have no idea what they are struggling with.
To other moms: Don’t judge her based on your experience. She isn’t you, you aren’t her. I don’t care if you’ve been pregnant 10 times, you are NOT in her shoes so don’t act like you are. Don’t discount her feelings by telling her how hard it was for you, that doesn’t help at all. Unless your pregnancy advice is actually helpful, keep it to yourself. Instead, consider what help you would have wanted along the way and either offer that help or find someone who can. I am so tired of moms being catty towards other moms! Of all people on campus, you are her very best ally. Instead of comparing her to yourself, listen to her and be a friend.
To everyone: Be kind. Most pregnant college students don’t want your pity, they just want to make it through the semester (or quarter) without failing or having serious health issues. It doesn’t take much to show a little kindness to others for a moment. Additionally, if you are familiar with the different services and centers on campus, connect them to those helpful resources. These resources include counseling, a women’s center, a parenting organization or club, etc. Don’t assume they know, instead make sure they do! Don’t be a part of their struggle, become a part of their success.
I am so thankful that I have experienced great support this semester, but most of these students don’t — let’s try to change that.