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PhD & Pregnant - been there done that/doing that?

(98 Posts)

15 months to go (but reliably informed funding extended for 2 more years)
Data collection started this August through to May
Baby due mid June (unlikely to be early)
Already have 1 DC
Bat shit crazy?

Plan is to inform the (all male) supervisory team after 20wk scan so Feb time I think, to work v hard until end of May, then to take 7 months off with some mat pay, then return with 6 months of funding but switch to PT spread over a year to write up. Doable?

PeshwariNaan Thu 08-Nov-12 11:04:11

I'm doing it, but I'm in a US program so much different than your situation. My program is 7-9 years, I'm beginning year 8 and have been writing up for four years now. (Our program requires 5 years of teaching, 2 years of coursework at the beginning and 1 year of oral examination prep.) I've actually finished all my writing - each chapter takes about a year to be individually approved by committee - and will need to revise and submit a final draft with intro and conclusion after baby is born. I'm crossing my fingers that my committee will play along with me and not make it too difficult. Revision always takes bloody ages.

(If anyone here is considering an American PhD, don't do it. Seriously.)

Anyway, yours sounds much more do-able, I'm sure someone who's doing a nice and sensible UK PhD will be along to reassure you and give you better advice. Just wanted to say "good luck" and would appreciate any good wishes thrown my way, too. thanks

PeshwariNaan Thu 08-Nov-12 11:06:02

By the way, your timeline will totally depend on what type of program you're in, and your schedule will need to be approved as do-able by your supervisors. It's great that you have funding, though.

mopsytop Thu 08-Nov-12 11:11:35

I'm doing it! Finished fieldwork, was supposed to be finished writing up before baby, but was v. ill during pregnancy and had to take term off. Just finishing writing up after nearly 1 year of mat leave. If baby is in nursery and you can get into work 2-3 days a week is doable but just factors in things like your baby getting every bug going in nursery and having to take time off - I have had to take off at least 1/3 of all my days due to baby being ill. It's hard work! But doable.

Baby will go into nursery with DC1 (who goes 3 FT days a week) and the fieldwork is social science not lab based.

mopsytop Thu 08-Nov-12 11:39:24

Me too. I would have had major difficulties doing the fieldwork while pregnant as I was so ill, luckily had finished it first. Just bear in mind that working until end of May is not necessarily going to happen and plan contingency. You might just be too tired or whatever - I ended up with high bp and was constantly in and out of hospital for monitoring, for example, which meant I couldn't work very well.

That is a very good point - I will plan contingency, I didn't find out until last Friday so haven't had long to get my head around the news! Ultimately though the health of the baby and myself comes first (and second) and then my family, my PhD is important but I can only do my best. And life has a tendency to throw unexpected issues into the mix!

mopsytop Thu 08-Nov-12 11:55:30

I think the most important thing is not only to get as much done before the baby arrives as you can, but also to have a very clear (written down) plan of what remains to do, in as much detail as possible, so you can pick up the threads again easily when you go back. It is so doable, I am doing it! It is obviously taking me a lot longer but you have to fit kids into your career at some stage, if you want to have them, and whatever stage you do it at, it will impact your career somewhat. Doing it during grad school is not a bad idea at all, really.

Splinters Thu 08-Nov-12 12:04:59

I am! 24+5 with my first baby and in the third year of my doctorate on a history topic. I've done all my archival research and am desperately trying to get it all catalogued so I know what I've got to work with when I finish maternity leave.. Was also v ill over the summer though, so somewhat behind.

Well although it was a bit of a shock it had been discussed and we are able to afford the double nursery fees as DC1 will be eligible for some free funding by the time I finish mat leave and when DC2 starts.

I am a 'mature' student and although we had intended to wait until I was almost finished/viva stage then that would have made me 37 and the risks of complications do increase whereas now I am that bit younger and hopefully teh pg will be as easy as my first.

And yy to the good outline plan of what is left to do

leanabh2013 Thu 08-Nov-12 12:44:16

Me, sort of! I'm a research masters student who should be going on to PhD next year. Like you, we planned the pregnancy as I'm 32 and so would be 36 if I waited to finish a PhD (and I work too, so no certainty that I'd manage in 3 years). Really glad to see this thread, as I thought I must be completely mad, but if I am, I'm in good company! The plan is to do as much groundwork before May as possible and then write up the following year and go into the next year's funding cycle.

I had to tell the university very early, as unfortunately I've been really unwell (I'm only 11 weeks now, and they've known for 3 or 4 weeks as I'm NEVER EVER off and they were worried), and I have to say they have been fab. I can understand your reservations though: as a funded student myself, I was worried about what they might say. My scholarship is from the university and so I don't have to worry about stopping and starting, but it might be worth you making preliminary enquiries (if you haven't already) if you are research council funded, as they might have specific policies. I think the great thing about a research degree is that it is just that: you are ultimately in charge and so it isn't such a big deal to pick it up and put it down as long as you are organised, which you obviously are! I've got a couple of taught bits in my MRes, and they are a pain at the moment, as I'm missing classes while I cuddle the loo/try to stay upright etc. I've decided to do much the same as you: bump will hatch in May, I'll probably stop until Christmas, but go back sooner if I can. I'll have 9 months off my part-time teaching job though so that I can phase the return more manageably.

If you don't mind me asking, how old was your first child when you went back to university? My SIL is doing an undergrad degree, but her boy is 4 and so free nursery care has kicked in for them. I'm a bit worried about how I'll juggle it all, especially if we have another before I'm done!

Thanks again for starting this thread!

Quodlibet Thu 08-Nov-12 12:48:59

I am! Although I am in the final furlong of writing up and the very early stages of pregnancy. Just hope that morning sickness stays away/is manageable enough that I can plough through the final draft, as my funding has run out so I am already on borrowed financial time.

What is very hard is concentrating on your writing when you've just discovered you are up the duff, and obviously therefore need to read half the internet.

leanabh2013 My DC1 will be nearly 3 when bump lands (all being well), they started nursery when I started the PhD so they were about 6mo but we staggered the first month by a lot of juggling. DH gets childcare vouchers which helps and we are v lucky he is ain a well paying job otherwise we could never afford for me to do a PhD.

quodlibet thats almost mandatory the reading of the internet. atm just focus on what buggy you want, names, due date, star sign, baby clothes, baby cot and that should keep you busy grin

mopsytop Thu 08-Nov-12 14:26:43

ha quod I was the exact same! In fact I joined mumsnet the day I found out I was pregnant! Still here nearly a year later!

leanabh if you are research council funded you get a year's mat leave. And a big chunk of it is paid. I timed it really badly, had my baba as my funding ran out. Doh! In my defence, I thought I'd be finished by that time, I didn't bargain on a) getting pregnant the first month we started trying! oops and b) being so ill for so many months.

Splinters Thu 08-Nov-12 14:44:59

Oh my, the internet. But I have to be on MN, it's so educational! Just a shame it's absolutely nowt to do with my thesis.

Research council funding is amazing. I already knew I was extremely lucky to have it -- but a year off, six months of it paid, no questions asked.. And actually it's good knowing that I am required to come back and finish afterwards. Because I do want my doctorate, after all this!

Kopparbergkate Thu 08-Nov-12 15:28:30

if you're mad, I'm mad too! Will be 18months in to a science phd when I have DC2, a year's mat leave (thank you EPSRC!) and then finish up in a couple of years hopefully...

Great - thats seven of us! Which is six more than I knew about before I posted the thread. I can it seems have up to a year off with 6 months funded but will probably curtail that to 8-9 months off as otherwise I feel I will become too detached from the study.

dontcarehow Thu 08-Nov-12 17:47:20

i'd second the contingency plans, make the most of times when you feel good to get as much work/planning done as possible. my working hours went down from 9 hours a day to being lucky to manage 3 at the height of morning sickness. its better now i feel better, but i still find it difficult to concentrate. and also reading everything on the internet! but i put that down to the inquisitiveness of the academic mind. i'm almost finished writing up though so not much advice for preparing for the return. good luck!

BigFairy Thu 08-Nov-12 17:52:12

I'm having a baby (my first) in the third year of my funded PhD. I expect it will be hard to finish after taking a year off, but it's not all bad as I get the first 6 months of my maternity leave funded, which seems like a good deal and I mainly work from home and it's very flexible. I've decided to take the maximum leave I'm allowed partly as I want to and partly as since I mainly work from home, I'm sure I could ease back into work unofficially should I find I want to, and as I'm not on track to finish on time, that would be a good thing. I reckon I'll take about 2 years to finish assuming I change to part time, then it'll be time to have another baby. I really hope to finish before having a second though!

LauraPalmerPlusOne Thu 08-Nov-12 18:20:07

I'm doing one, too. In fact, I'll be 38 weeks at my one-year upgrade viva. (Luckily, I've got a panel full of sensitive men... wink)

Several of us were on a PhD & Pregnancy thread a few months ago...but I think we all became too busy to keep it up!

mopsytop Thu 08-Nov-12 19:31:08

Good tip to keep yourself in the game while on leave is to write your postdoc/job spiel. It really makes you think about your research and how to present it, which keeps if fresh in your mind ...

BeadyEyes Fri 09-Nov-12 11:03:00

Marking my place - just found out I'm pregnant, and am in the last 6 months of my PhD! (yikes)....

Splinters Fri 09-Nov-12 11:35:00

Like BigFairy I'm having a year off starting in January, but definitely planning to get back into work in the authumn term next year -- will still be able to use libraries, go to seminars etc while on leave. Really hope my great plan works out (I've ordered a quiet baby)!

june2013 Fri 09-Nov-12 12:28:59

Such a reassuring thread! I'm not far gone (8weeks) and haven't told my supervisor yet. Just at the beginning of my programme, hoping to finish year one in 9 months before I go off 6months...

Women's officer at university was REALLY helpful for support, info and resources. I recommend it if there's one where you are!

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