Being a college student comes with a lot of pressure and a ton of responsibility. The addition of an unplanned pregnancy can seem unbearable, especially in the hours and days after finding out you’re pregnant. Truth is, each year thousands of young women complete college while raising children. The key is surrounding yourself with the right people and resources to manage the challenges and set you and your baby on a path to lifelong success.
1. Make sure you are indeed pregnant
Before doing anything else, you should confirm that you’re pregnant. Home pregnancy tests are fairly reliable, but a medical pregnancy test followed by an obstetrical ultrasound is the only way to know with 100% certainty. In Gainesville, Sira offers free confidential medical pregnancy tests. For accuracy, tests should be taken either after a missed period or 10 days after possible conception.
2. Talk to the people closest to you
If you haven’t already, it’s time to share your pregnancy news with the people you love most. If you’re in a committed relationship, naturally you will want to tell your boyfriend or husband. If not, you will still want to let the baby’s father know, assuming you think he will take the news well. Hopefully, he will want to build a lifelong relationship with his child. Next on the list are your parents. Many young women find it difficult to tell mom and dad about an unplanned pregnancy, but preparing in advance for how to tell them will make the process easier. And, of course, you will want to talk with your closest friends. Friends can be invaluable sounding boards and confidants during this time. Just be sure to choose carefully. Select friends who will listen without judgment and support you in your journey.
3. Learn about the resources available to you
You may be surprised to learn just how many resources are out there for expectant mothers still in college. And while college counselors or the campus health center may seem like natural places to turn, they’re not always equipped to connect you with the right resources.
Chaunie Brusie was a 21-year-old senior at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan when she got pregnant. She went to her on-campus health center and was surprised how little help they provided. In an interview with USA Today, Chaunie said, “The nurse practitioner who ran the full health campus center knew nothing. I asked her if I could purchase insurance, [which] specifically excluded maternity coverage. I asked if she could help me find a list of doctors that I could go to. She basically knew nothing that could help me stay in school and continue the pregnancy.”
You may be better off talking with a group that specializes in helping young mothers. Sira has close affiliations with a variety of community programs that can likely assist you with anything from housing and transportation to daycare and formula. You can meet with one of our peer counselors for free and develop a plan to get you what you need to successfully stay in school while raising your baby.
4. Lean on a support system
It takes more than rent and diapers to raise a baby, especially when you’re also juggling school responsibilities. To thrive, you’ll need people you can turn to for guidance, counseling and support, and having them physically nearby is always a bonus. For some people, family and friends can fill this role, in part or in whole. Others find a church or community organization offers a loving environment along with a network of encouraging, helpful people.
5. Savor the present, build for the future
Being a mom is a remarkable part of life. Don’t forget to enjoy it. Between classes and homework and feedings and diaper changes, it’s easy to lose sight of just how special these times are. Be sure to appreciate the beautiful moments and milestones of your child’s life, and to give yourself credit for the amazing job you’re doing as a woman, mom and student. The sacrifices you make now are the ultimate demonstration of your love for your child. And you’re doing it while laying the groundwork for the life and career you always dreamed of, and while being a wonderful example for your daughter or son.
If you think you may be pregnant, contact Sira in Gainesville today at 352-377-4947. Our office is located on NW 13th Street, just a few blocks north of University of Florida’s main campus, and just a few miles from Santa Fe College. We will help you consider your pregnancy options and develop a plan for the future. Your dreams are all within reach, and we can help you – and your baby – get there.