Should you have a baby while in college? Is 19 too young to have a baby? The thought of having a baby at any age can be incredibly daunting and scary, you may be feeling a number of emotions, positive and negative. Going to college can also be incredibly daunting and you feel like you’re out on your own for the first time. What happens when you’re about to deal with both at the same time?
While joy and excitement might be present, it is entirely possible that you may also be feeling quite stressed and overwhelmed. These feelings are normal, and you may find it helpful to share them with your partner, friends, or even
midwife. There is normally no ‘right’ time to have a baby, and sometimes the opportunity presents itself at a completely different time to when you ever imagined, whether that is 18, 19, 21, 35 or 45.
Is it hard to have a baby while in college?
It can be hard but don’t underestimate how adaptable and resilient you can be. There is so much you will learn about yourself in the process and you will emerge a whole different person. People often talk about how having a baby young can hinder your life, when there are so many ways in which it will enrich your life and you will feel even more determined to do even more. You will get a better idea of your limitations and a strong sense of confidence and pride. There are so many great experiences in life to share with your baby – so much of life becomes more fun with someone to share it with.
Can you still go to college if you have a baby?
So many universities and colleges are accommodating when it comes to having a baby while studying – but it is best to check out your organisation to check what support or help is available in your location. Most often universities accept mature students of all ages, and having a baby while studying is not out of the ordinary.
What happens if you get pregnant during college?
It is fine and ok to be pregnant at college – definitely reach out to your tutors and support networks at the college or university, to make the most of the help on offer. Making a decision to have a baby is a powerful thing, you are a badass and there is no reason you should be treated differently to a mature student, because of your age.
1. Don’t let anyone tell you you are not a badass
If people try to judge you, remember that it is more of a judgement on them than ever on you and you should never apologise or feel any shame for living your life the way you want to. What’s more, you are embarking on your own amazing personal journey and you can decide what that looks like, no matter how unconventional it might appear to others.
2. Having a baby is such an educational journey and rollercoaster ride
It will help you feel more confident and able to tackle other challenges as a new adult and it means you will grow and become more independent incredibly quickly. There is so much learning you do through the whole process and it shapes you for the rest of your life. It’s an amazing qualification to have under your belt! It’s an amazing way to grow as a person and you learn a lot about yourself and who you are.
3. It gives you a confidence boost in life
One of my favourite parts of having a baby young is that it instilled in me a great confidence, wherever I went. In social situations I felt badass and one of the oldest ones there, despite being the youngest because of my age. It really gave me a lift in social situations and the confidence to stand my ground and be seen and respected as an adult.
You get a whole new driving purpose. When you look back at the struggles you’ve overcome, graduation day will be even more meaningful.
4. Set up a plan for finances before baby arrives
Pregnancy is a great time to set this up, as it will help you prepare and get excited for the arrival of your baby! It’s an amazing thing to get everything set up and apply for any childcare burseries you may be entitled to, and gather together all the freebies and vouchers you can find that can help! I put together a list of my favourite best student planners, full of cute options to help you organise everything!
While you may not have lots of cash instantly at your disposal, there may be options for preparing for your childs future nonetheless. Setting up a savings account in their infancy could give you approximately 18 years to be able to put tiny amounts money aside on their behalf. Even the smallest amounts could really help in future and can be taken into consideration when interest is paid. Having this account, and knowing that it cannot be touched can give you some peace of mind and help you feel prepared.
5. Help is the greatest gift anyone can give you
If it is possible, find a good support network! Help is your secret weapon and it becomes everything to you. If you can, ask around at your local church community or other friendly mums, if they might know anyone who is a toddler mum and you might be able to support each other and form a little babysitting alliance or arrangement with playdates. There are also mother and baby networks out there that may be so helpful to join, definitely embrace these little groups and organisations if you can, it will give you somewhere to turn if you really need help.
It’s great to have some paid childcare services available for emergencies and if you need some help, if you don’t have family nearby to give a hand.
Even if you don’t have family, don’t be afraid to ask close friends or even friends from community or church friends.
Of course, don’t take advantage of anyone. If someone agrees to help you, make sure to give them plenty of notice, offer to trade babysitting, and come up with a payment arrangement if necessary.
6. Take time with things
Taking time out can only help and benefit you, taking things slow will benefit you in every possible way! There is no rush to get everything done quickly, no time limit to achieve your ambitions, and taking your time means you can put enjoy and put more in to the process and do yourself justice and get more out in return. Rush doesn’t equal success, just the opposite! Using the chance to take your time with your degree means you will likely get a higher grade than you even might have otherwise, especially as the brain doesn’t stop growing until about age 25. Great things take time and allow you more perspective on your work and study. Nourish yourself with as much time as you need, take less classes and take time with things, as much as you need.
7. Self care
Finding ways to practice a bit of self-care can also be quite important for your mental health. There can be a lot of pressure on you during the first few months of your child’s life. You might also not have the means to have time to yourself, either by paying for childcare or utilising the support of others. Due to this, it can be useful to consider the ways that you can have a bit of ‘me time’ without jeopardising the safety of your child. Enjoying a good book, soaking in a candlelit bath after your child is in bed, or even having a tasty treat may make you feel a little bit more human.
Taking a break will be so, so helpful for every part of you, also for your baby and for your ambitions. It will allow you to rest and recuperate, digest everything and get everything you want out of your studies.
8. Build a support network
Find kind and trusted people and offer to form an alliance where you can help each other when you need it. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It feels so good to be able to have a break and rest when you need it, and feels so good to help others in return.
9. Having a baby can bring any issues you are having to a head and exascerbate any problems you are struggling with
But this is true at any age. It’s important to be aware of this, but having a baby may bring your issues to a head and force you to confront them. This can be a relationship where you know your needs are not being met, a toxic friendship, low self esteem, severe anxieties, difficult living circumstances, financial obstacles, any difficult issues you are trying to keep below the surface might implode and be even more difficult to deal with. It is such a wonderful thing to seek out someone to talk these issues through with – even a stranger on the internet or phone. You deserve a peace of mind, you are worthy of feeling peace, contentment and joy, though the path to get there might be very hard.
10. Keep in close contact with your teachers/professors/tutors
To get the most from the experience, communication is key. Share everything with them when it comes to your work, or your concerns, or where you are at in your pregnancy, or what lessons or classes you want to do.
Explore on-campus resources. From free childcare to extra help with your schoolwork, most colleges and universities have their own set of on-campus resources to help pregnant students. You should be able to find them on your university’s website, but talk to your professors or advisors if not.
There is a whole list of resources available to women having a baby in college. You’ll be eligible for scholarships you wouldn’t otherwise meet the requirements for, and you’ll find great support groups where you’ll make new friends. Be sure to communicate with your professors, advisors, and school administration. You’ll notice that your professors will be understanding if you keep them in the loop.
11. There will be days you decide you are giving up
But you are doing great! It’s ok to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
12. It’s ok to feel whatever
It’s ok not to feel anything at all for your baby (I didn’t until way, way later and I spent a huge amount of time feeling guilty and stressing about it), it’s ok to feel like a bad parent, it’s ok to feel sad, stressed, horrible at times, it’s ok to regret your decision, it’s ok to feel any of these things. They are so, so common, they do not make you a bad parent and there is no right and wrong way to feel, you might feel a mix of everything, or you might not feel anything at all. It’s good to be aware of the signs of post natal depression, when these feelings can last or linger for months and months at a time and you find you are suffering daily.
13. Be aware of post natal depression
Postnatal depression can be incredibly common from before birth, right up to around a year after your child is born, or even longer. It affects roughly 10% of women. By keeping an eye on your feelings, you may be able to spot the signs of depression, or general discontent, and be better equipped to seek help. This can occur in any woman, not just those with pre-identified conditions. The physical and emotional changes that you have gone through to become a mother can have a powerful effect on your mind and body and uproot your emotions and sense of self completely.
14. There is no pressure – just have fun with it
Embrace any fun you experience from the process and just be you! Take lots of photos if you can, pre baby and after baby (I wish I had taken more), read your revision notes aloud to your growing bump so your baby can hear your voice. Babies provide a great excuse to act silly and have fun. A little bit of downtime is good for baby—and for you. Indulge in it every day. There are so many funny quirks to enjoy and having a baby at college is an experience like no other. You might experience pressure to keep up with others but just remember, everything in its time! Everyone goes through different stages of life at different times, just embrace and make the most of the stage you are at!
I hope this is helpful to anyone who needs to read it, from someone who had a baby at 19! Definitely also check out my other helpful college hacks and tips, from college outfit ideas to what to bring to college essentials!