Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate? – How to Decide

Punita RiceAcademia

Should I Get Pregnant During My Doctorate - How To Decide If You Should Get Pregnant During Your Doctorate

Are you trying to answer the question “Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate?” I can’t speak for everyone’s experience, obviously, but I can share my thoughts based on my own experience of being pregnant while pursuing my doctorate. These are some situations that might make being pregnant while pursuing your doctorate a bad combination. If you’re interested, read on…

Below, I’m sharing some reasons why you may not want to be pregnant while doing your doctorate. There are seven things to consider total. I’m hoping that considering these questions might help you decide the answer to this question:

Should I get pregnant while doing my doctorate?

#1) You might not want to get pregnant in your first semester in your program. If it’s your first semester, or maybe even your first year, you really should try hold off on getting pregnant (if you can). It takes a while to adjust to the peculiarities and demands of an online dosctorate, and to learn to balance the freedom you have with the discipline you need. I think you need time to adjust to that and become comfortable with it before you add anything else to your plate. And if you’re in your first semester or year and you find yourself expecting, then… whatever. You’ll figure it out. People have overcome greater obstacles and thrived.

#2) If your job isn’t flexible, or you can’t take time off when you most need it, it might be too much to also be pregnant and be working on your doctorate too. If you can arrange to get a little time off from work when your symptoms are at their worst, you’re in a good place. I always figured once I was pregnant, I would be able to take a sick day here and there if I was struggling with morning sickness or something. Sadly, I ended up not being able to do this. My “morning” (hah) sickness was at its worst during the four weeks I taught summer school, and during summer school, it’s neither easy or practical to get sub coverage. That meant I had to work through some of my worst symptom days. On the other hand, I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, because I would have a couple weeks off after summer school and before going back for the fall.

But still, it would have been nice to stay home on some days when I thought I was going to pass out or literally vomit on myself (don’t call it TMI; you’re reading a post about pregnancy!).

So… Is getting pregnant while working full time and working on your doctorate a good idea? Not if you can’t get at least some time off of work when you need it most. That said, you have to know your own circumstances and figure out if you’ll be able to get away from work when you need to the most. If, like me, you can’t get away from work, you have to figure out how you’re going to deal with having to go to work, and working on your doctorate, while dealing with the physical toll early pregnancy will take on you. You’ll have to answer the question, “Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate?” based on your own situation with work.

#3) If you’re not good at being flexible with your time and schedule, getting pregnant while working on your doctorate might not work for you. If you’re able to be flexible but disciplined at the same time, then the flexibility of an online doctorate will be your savior. If you can put your work away when a wave of nausea hits, but come right back to it and focus again when you feel better, then you can probably handle it. If you’re bad at this kind of thing, you’re going to have trouble. This can also be further complicated though by demands on your time. If you already have a child or two, or your schedule is otherwise less flexible, this might be more of a challenge for you, but you have to figure this out.

So how do you answer the question, “Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate?” Well, if you can’t adjust your study schedule based on how you feel, then maybe you should say nah.

#4) If you neglect your basic needs, maybe don’t get pregnant. Taking care of yourself while pursuing your doctorate, especially if you’re also working, is hard enough. Getting pregnant raises the stakes, and can make it harder. But, if you can commit to making choices that will sustain a healthy pregnancy, and also keep you alert and focused, then you might be able to handle pregnancy and your online doctorate. Take advantage of your access to clean running water and stay super hydrated. Try to go to the gym, or walk, or whatever, but listen to your body. My whole first trimester, I was so exhausted that I only went to the gym once a week. But every pregnancy is different, so figure out what you can do to take care of yourself. But if you can’t/won’t take basic care of yourself, then your answer to “Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate?” should probably be “no.”

#5) If you hate your doctoral program, getting pregnant won’t help the situation. Whether you’re pregnant or not, if you get yourself into the mindset of dreading doing your doctoral work, you probably won’t make it through your program. Your doctorate isn’t something to “get through,” it’s something to immerse yourself in. So even though it won’t always thrill and titillate you to sit at your desk and do work (I still can’t believe how lucky I got with actually feeling that way for a while), you can decide that you’re going to think about your doctoral work and demands as a positive thing. If you can look at it that way, you’ll probably be fine, because you’ll want to make time for it. So in response to “Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate?” — I’d say if you never ever look forward to your work, you may not want to get pregnant right this minute, getting pregnant certainly won’t make you enjoy your program more. (And also, maybe you’re not in the right program?!?!)

#6) If you don’t have a support system of any kind, you may not want to get pregnant until you have a little more free time. Having a fantastic husband and family have facilitated making my summer semester and first trimester pretty smooth (kow). If you are not in a relationship and you’re considering becoming a single parent while pursuing your doctorate, then you really have to have a strong network of people to support you. No man (or woman) is an island, and you’ll need extra sets of hands as you get further into your research (and your pregnancy).

So if you’re asking yourself, “Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate,” I’d say consider this input: If you’re truly doing everything completely alone, then I wouldn’t recommend getting pregnant while working on your doctorate online. So while people do harder things than this every day, I wouldn’t say it’s a great idea to get pregnant while working on your doctorate if you don’t have a good partner or support system of any kind.

#7) If you’re terrible at maintaining (or faking) a good attitude, getting pregnant while working on your doctorate may be draining. If you can keep some perspective and maintain a positive attitude, then you can totally handle being pregnant while working on your doctorate online, or being pregnant and doing pretty much anything else you decide to. So… if you’re bad at maintaining a good attitude, maybe wait until after you finish the program.

So if you’re asking yourself, should I get pregnant while working on my doctorate…

Ultimately, deciding if you want to get pregnant while working on your doctorate online just comes down to what you (and, theoretically, your partner) want and decide you can handle, and how you think it’s going to work. (Yes, I know my recommendation on whether you should get pregnant while working on your doctorate doesn’t matter!)

In my case, my husband and I want to start a family, we want for me to continue pursuing my doctorate, and so we made decisions about what would facilitate making things happen. We’re thankful these things have been working out for us thus far, and we’re hopeful and optimistic about them going forward.

But you have to decide what you want and what you can handle. To answer “Should I Get Pregnant While Doing My Doctorate,” you have to figure out what you can do.

And if you’re already pregnant, and you’re already pursuing your doctorate, then you already know you can do it, because you already are! (And if that’s the case, you probably have some words of wisdom of your own for managing a doctorate while pregnant, in which case, please share them below!)

P.S. – An overview of pregnancy and the online doctorate, and why pregnancy can work beautifully with the online doctorate 🙂