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Pregnancy during degree?

(26 Posts)
MeadowHay Sat 01-Aug-15 19:53:27

Hi, I'm new here, and I'm not a parent, nor pregnant, but me and DH have now started talking seriously about family planning and we thought somewhere like this might be able to help us.

We are both 21, we are super close and both love kids. I am one of those women who wants to "have it all" and I am frustrated that society is not very enabling in that respect!

Because I still have 2 years left of my UG degree, and then to train to become a barrister I would have to study either another 1yr FT or do it PT as two years, then 1 yr FT paid training. Also, being a barrister means you are technically self-employed, so there is no real maternity leave, and no maternity pay other than SMP. Realistically if I want multiple children it will be basically impossible because to maintain a practice I can't just keep going off for 12 months every other year or something near to the start of my practice (as I don't really want to have children very late on). I also don't want to have children and put them all in full-time childcare right from the start, I want to enjoy spending time with them.

For this reason I think it makes more sense to have children BEFORE my career so that I can have some time to spend with them when they are little and not have to interrupt my private practice with huge gaps of maternity leave. However to limit the time I would have to take out of my studies/career this would mean having a few children in quick succession in a couple of years time and would necessitate being pregnant at some time during either my final year of FT UG study and then again during PT study later.

Am I living in the clouds and this would be just too much? Has anybody studied whilst being pregnant and/or with babies/toddlers? What would you do if you were in my situation? I'm too scared to talk to my mum about it because I think she will just ignore me and strongly advise that I wait until I am older and have practiced for a few years and then quit and become a SAHM because I know that is her preferred outcome for me.

Sorry for such a loooooooooong post. sad

MinesAPintOfTea Sat 01-Aug-15 20:02:31

I have. Things to take into account:

On a taught course you have to be back within the fortnight (impossible ime ) or take a dull year off
No maternity pay or childcare vouchers
Studying is exhausting with broken nights

I managed, but DH had to do a lot to make it possible, and he was quite well established so could pay all our living expenses plus childcare higherthan the mortgage. We had savings from when we both worked that were pretty much gone before I returned to work even then

MeadowHay Sat 01-Aug-15 20:17:30

If baby number one comes no earlier than late March, most of my taught hours will have finished, and all of the compulsory ones will have finished, so attendance will not be so important, apart from a few days in May or June for my exams. However, been reading about conception and I naively thought if you had unprotected sex a few times you would probably fall preggers...unfortunatley it doesn't seem to be as predictable as that so I guess there is no way to really 'time' a baby, lol!

There is always an option of taking a year out between graduating and starting PT study, probably best option? We could make sure there is no baby until I have graduated from FT study that way.

Also, I'm sure I read that you get an allowance from the student loans company for childcare if you're a student in FT education? However a newborn surely can't go to childcare until it reaches a certain age? I don't know anything about this sort of thing!

Money would probably be a huge issue for us and sometime we would need to do lots and lots of calculations and things about before really ttc. DH would be working but would be first or second yr of employment and we would probably have no savings or hardly any.

Thanks a lot for your help.

kirinm Sat 01-Aug-15 20:25:42

I did my UG degree when my son was 3. I didn't get any extra funding for childcare. Not sure if it's changed. I qualified as a solicitor but not for many years after finishing my degree. It's obviously possible. I found the work on the LPC more time consuming than the degree but I was also working full time as I couldn't afford to live otherwise.

I think most barristers I know have built their practice and then had kids but I can't see why it can't be done the other way.

MummyBex1985 Sat 01-Aug-15 20:40:37

Hi, I'm a lawyer so I may be able to help!

I had my first DD at 19 (unplanned) and had to pick my degree back up. However, at 22 I secured a job in a law firm and they paid for me to finish my qualifications whilst working at the same time. Ive spent the last 7 years feeling really glad I had kids first, then career second.

However, it's not a forgiving career when you have kids. Hardly anyone works part time and I've had bollockings for leaving my desk at 5 and going home to be with my family. There's an expectation that you should polish chairs with your arse just to have a presence.

That said, I'm currently TTC again. And firmly of the "if they don't like it, they can go to hell" mindset. Lol.

FWIW I'm not a barrister but a friend of mine is, she went back to work after six months and juggles a career and family very well smile

mygreeneyedboy Sat 01-Aug-15 21:21:51

I had my DS the day before I turned 21. I was half way through 2nd year of a degree (politics), DP was half way through his 3rd year (same degree). I went back to lectures with DS breastfeeding within weeks. The university was so supportive - I could hand in essays late (even a month late in my third year as well!), exams were arranged so I could have breastfeeding breaks if needed, although I never needed to.

It was incredibly tough. But it was incredibly rewarding. I've graduated with a 2:1, very close to a 1st. DS didn't go into childcare until my third year, when he was 9 months old - I had a childcare grant to cover it. Before DS I had been assessed on my parents income which meant I got zilch support from the government, as soon as DS was born I got the maximum. The paperwork is hell but that's bureaucracy for you.

I only graduated a few weeks ago, but I'm now 10 weeks pregnant with DC2. We're moving country (to DP's home country). I'll spend a year learning the language. Then I will do a masters in business. My aim is to be a Management Consultant or another senior business person. I want it all as well! I'm lucky we're moving though, because the UK is crap for family friendly graduate jobs, I don't think I'd manage it staying here.

Having a baby before your career is not a crazy idea though. I look at my mum who took about 8-10 years out of her career (aged 30 until 40) to raise children. She really notices it now. I've avoided this - I have had no maternity leave and I will not this time either.

Good luck if you decide to do this! I think it would be amazing and incredibly brave! Obviously I. Can't advise in the lawyer/barrister side - apart from that it was my dream job as a teenager until I realised I wouldn't be earning much until about the age of 30! And then the unsocial long hours... However - your child could be 8 or 9 by the time you are fully qualified?!

MeadowHay Sat 01-Aug-15 23:34:46

Thank you for the replies so far, they're really helpful and giving me things to think about smile

DH is very supportive and wants children too but if I am still in FT study when baby is born it would probably mean he would have to quit his job to look after it for the first few months (he won't have worked in one place long enough to qualify for shared parental leave or anything). He is willing to do that if it's necessary but obviously it's not ideal for either his career and also for finances. We would also be in my uni city which is 2hr drive from my parents and all DH's family so would not have extended family support for first few months (we are planning to move closer to them after I graduate).

I definitely need to look into what help is available for childcare. Can newborns go into childcare (sorry if this is a silly/naive question!)? If it was necessary it would only be the odd day probably because most my teaching would be finished by then.

The other worry I have is that if I have children first, that chambers may discriminate against me when applying for pupillage/tenancy...I know discrimination against mothers exists sometimes. The way I see it I will actually be a better deal because I won't be taking large swathes of time off for maternity leave because that will all be done with but I don't know how heads of chambers will see it?! I will also say that it is very difficult as a young female aspiring barrister because you can never find answers to questions about how mother barristers balance home/family online or anywhere and chambers never seem to promote inclusivity/being family-friendly or anything. I have nobody in my family in the legal sector so I don't have much personal access to barristers to find this kind of thing out.

Any more experiences greatly welcomed, the more different perspectives the better!

GerbilsAteMyCat Sat 01-Aug-15 23:43:14

I wouldn't.
You are 21, still have so much left of the world to see and experience. You have a good 15 years at least to have your kids.
Wait, take your time and enjoy it. You don't need to 'have it all' all at once.

Mum2Boys15 Sun 02-Aug-15 02:39:46

I am currently 5 weeks pregnant and returning to my third year in September, I also have a 5 year old and 2 year old. I do find it difficult at times because I have no close family but if you had family support too I think it would relieve some of the pressures! Good luck whatever you choose x

Reginamangina Sun 02-Aug-15 04:43:47

I studied law with a 1 yr old & unless you're highly disciplined, with a supportive & involved partner & family & can actually cope with the guilt of missing out on so much of your child growing up, then I'd say get the degree first. Practice certificates, even part time are all consuming & the work load in practice is not family friendly especially in pupillage. That's not to say it can't be done just that there are a lot of sacrifices and parenthood really isn't like the movies. You're going to feel broody at various points in your life and these phases can often pass too. At the risk of sounding patronising 21 is still quite young. You've a good 20 years of breeding ahead of you. Why rush it?

MinesAPintOfTea Sun 02-Aug-15 06:17:55

Very Ffew childcare options for under 3 months. Once you have a baby that will seem like a silly quedtion...

Plus there's a reasonably high chance of surgery or tearing so you aren't able to return for a month or two.

Finally is it a good idea for the only earner in the family to quit their job? Unless paternity pay rules have changed he wont get any support if you are a student.

bittapitta Sun 02-Aug-15 07:02:21

"(he won't have worked in one place long enough to qualify for shared parental leave or anything"

Given that you're not slready pregnant, this seems unlikely given your description. He should be eligible but unless you are employed neither of you will be! (You should be entitled to Maternity Allowance and maternity leave as long as practical.) I appreciate all your detailed updates but it all seems too focused on you and your career - what about him, is he actually going to step up and help? Is he happy to make sacrifices to ensure you get your career back on track? Or are you assuming this should impact your life much more than his? Childcare is a shared expense (time and money).

bittapitta Sun 02-Aug-15 07:03:16

Shared parental leave (as a student you are not eligible):

iniquity Sun 02-Aug-15 07:59:07

I'm pregnant on a nursing diploma. Its not ideal and people make comments. But I'm 31 and want a large family so time maybe running out. You're only 21 , you have so much time ahead. I would wait... You could always space the kids out. Thats what I'm doing. I'm hoping for one at 24,31,35 and 38 though it does depend on fertility. 4 kids and a career would be impossible without a sand but I'm thinking the first one will be in secondary school when the last two are born.

iniquity Sun 02-Aug-15 08:01:50


mygreeneyedboy Sun 02-Aug-15 08:21:23

Really disagreeing with people saying 21 is too young. I took a gap year at 18, I'm taking another gap year now (where I'll have another child but also be learning a language) - 2 gap years are normal. I'm not a abnormally behind anyone else I finished a levels with, despite my decision to do a masters and have two children. I ended up with a 2:1, but I regularly got 1sts in assignments.

My DP helped with childcare for the first 6 months, but equally DS came to lectures. Does your uni put lectures online? That's a help. But for the first six months, the baby can be "shut up" by breastfeeding so lectures are uninterrupted. After that I had to use childcare.. He would run around lecture rooms waving and smiling (one professor stopped the lecture on national security to give him an art lesson at 10 months..) I've had an amazing experience.

in my third year I commuted to uni (6 hour train journey), I stayed over night and back the next day. My parents would take DS to nursery and look after him the days I wasn't there. DP worked 12 hours a day so couldn't help.
Could you do this? Both sets of parents live 2 hours away from uni you said. Do DM or DMil have family work hours? Would they be happy to help? You could live near them and commute to uni (2 hours is nothing!).

Really think it's fab you are thinking this!

jorahmormont Sun 02-Aug-15 08:34:20

I got pregnant unexpectedly at just turned 19, it was a week before the start of my second year of uni. I was determined to carry on but thought I'd have to take a year out. I did my second year whilst pregnant, had incredibly supportive lecturers and my classmates are more like family and rallied around, three of them are DD's godparents and everyone was so accepting and understanding if there was something I couldn't commit to of struggled with (I did a very practical degree). DD was born on the last day of classes, I submitted two essays while she was two weeks old and then, after a summer with her, I carried on into my third year after the summer holidays.

Uni during pregnancy was relatively easy, apart from trying to hide morning sickness in lectures at the point where only my lecturers knew I was pregnant. Going straight into 3rd year, 36 hours a week, with no time out was tough.

DD went jnto nursery at 5 months and has thrived there, she is so intelligent and sociable, but I have missed her so much. I don't feel like our bond has suffered, but the amount of times I sat in a lecture almost crying because I wanted to be with her and she was across campus in the on site nursery. Also, I was lucky that my lecturers would let me nip out of class if she was running a temperature or they couldn't calm her down and she needed a cuddle, you have to consider whether your lecturers would allow that.

Don't worry too much about where your parents live, both sets of our parents are two hours away so we've done it all just the two of us, with OH being a student too.

It is so much hard work but honestly it's doable; I'm graduating in October (our uni does a weirdly late ceremony) with a first and the highest individual and overall grades in my class; the class I started uni with. It's honestly my proudest achievement so I would say, if you're determined and prepared for the hard work, go for it.

ChunkyAndAshamed Sun 02-Aug-15 08:41:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MinesAPintOfTea Sun 02-Aug-15 09:09:07

21 is not definitely too young, but any plan which necessitates both parents not having an income at the same time, unless there is a large cushion of savings, is a very poor plan. Is there no "junior" legal job between the degree and being a barrister that would enable you to "coast" for 3-4 years OP? That would come with a salary, so you would both be due full maternity/paternity leave.

I say this as a woman with two degrees and a professional job and I had DS at 25, mid-way through a post-grad degree.

None of this means that should you have DC university is no longer open to you, just that its not a great plan to time there for during a degree.

MishMooshAndMogwai Sun 02-Aug-15 09:34:40

I'm doing it!

My story is slightly different though and shows just how important a really good support network is!

I got pregnant at 19 with dd in my second year living away at uni. The pregnancy and lectures combo was fine apart from not bejng allowed in the lab and not being able to fit in the desk chairs!
However DDS dad was massively unsupportive, I ended up a single parent from very early on and I just couldn't manage it all (lots of other issues there) so I ended up dropping out.

Fast forward 2 years and Id moved back to my mums with dd, found a new place to live, a new Dp and went back to college doing an access course. It was hard but doable, dd went to the onsite nursery and loved it there, the college paid for childcare and I was entitled to various benefits rather than a student loan.

The year after I started my degree at the same campus, dd stayed in the nursery, Dp moved in and we discovered I was pregnant with dd2.
Epic faff with student finance WRT dps wages and childcare, blocked payments and a constant barrage of forms, horrendously skint and stressed the entire time but the uni was supportive and we made it through!

Dd2 was born a week ago, smack bang in the middle of the summer holidays. I'll have 8 weeks maternity leave (7 weeks of that being summer holiday and 1 week missed of uni bar 1 day to go in and sort the admin). Dd will not be allowed in class so is booked into the onsite nursery from 8 weeks old (their lowest age limit) and they are supporting breastfeeding by letting me pop in at lunch and by giving dd my expressed milk.

My newborn experience is already so different and I cannot express how much of a difference having s supportive Dp has made. My whole mindset is different and I really feel able to carry on with next year.

2 things Id say to consider:

Do not underestimate the cost of childcare! Dd1 is currently in 2 childcare settings to cover lectures and work placement. Even with her 15 free childcare hours and discounted nursery prices as it's the campus nursery the fees still take up over a third of my student loan. A baby won't get those free hours which will massively increase the bill. The children are taken into consideration though when applying for your loan.

Also, make the most of every second that they are in childcare. It is SO difficult to a) find the time and b) find the motivation to tear yourself away from your child to hit the books. Work through lunch, go in an hour early and stay an hour later to sit in the library undusturbed. Quite often with nurseries you pay for a session rather than the hours you want so Eg if you finish at 4 and pick her up at 4.15 you are allowed to leave her til the end of the session at 6. You'll probably be desperate to go and get her but while she's settled and happy it's well worth using the extra time because it's SO much harder to do it at home!

Phew that was long! Good luck! flowers

littleducks Sun 02-Aug-15 09:50:10

So much depends upon your uni set up. I couldn't take kids into lectures ever, it just wouldn't be considered. Neither my school aged ones or the baby I had in between yr3 and yr4. This meant my degree took 5 years. I did time very carefully so baby was born in Sept allowing him to be the oldest possible when returning and needing nursery. I am studying a course which leads to a supposedly very family friendly career with lots of women and part time working. It is still tricky finding a job that fits in

WhyStannisWhy Sun 02-Aug-15 10:13:47

As an undegrad student finance have a childcare grant to cover 85% of costs.

MeadowHay Sun 02-Aug-15 11:17:50

Thank you everyone. With regards to age, I will be 23 at the earliest when first baby would be born, or 24 if it takes a long time to conceive. The main reason I'm thinking about this so early is because I would need to carefully plan when to come off my depo injection because I've heard it can take a yr after to conceive? Not many any big decisions atm anyway just having a think about everything and it's really helpful to hear from mums smile

With regards to uni, my contact hours are not huge, usually 5 or 6 compulsory hours a fortnight + lectures which are all recorded and put on BB and attendance is not compulsory. After easter holidays my uni only runs classes for about 2 weeks + exams in june.

Will focus on trying to boost savings in the meantime!

Also further PT study for the two years after I graduate attendance varies at institutions but is never more than one day a week.

Definitely need to speak to DH about his career and plans, the problem is he has not really decided what it is he wants to do wrt career.

Do you think it is worth speaking to my uni and asking them what the situation is for pregnant students/students with young children?

Honestly your feedback is all invaluable, giving me lots to think about and to talk about with DH smile

Teamstaisy16 Sun 02-Aug-15 13:00:27


Im expecting my 2nd (6 weeks pg at present) and its my partners first. We are both in Uni, me in my 2nd year, bf in 1st year as mature students. I was worried to that the Uni wouldn't let me continue but they have been great so far smile. Student support were amazing and told me all my options. You will get help after the birth with any accredited childcare and you may be entitled to more help depending on your income. Its going to be more difficult I know but Im embracing the challenge. Financially because of the student finance we are in a good position and as we are on different courses we should be able to balance early days care between us both. Baby is due March 2016 so still plenty of time before exams smile. Good luck and just remember it will be even more worth the challenge in the end smile you will feel amazing getting a degree while balancing being a parent xxx

RooibosTeaAgain Sun 02-Aug-15 13:13:25

I would consider do finishing his studies or establishing himself in a career as well as you - as if he gives up his job for you to study how will that impact him? How will you manage without even smp?
Personally I would want to finish uni and have some financial security. Yes you can get a job and use full time childcare - nurseries are often 7.30-6pm so you could have jobs that ensure one of you drops off and on of you picks up. You do not need to use 12 months off work yourself - if you ensure your do has worked long enough in a job you can split it.

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