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Pregnant in Nursing School – 12 Do’s & Don’ts to Manage it Successfully


Written By: Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN

Nursing school is already hard…Now you’re pregnant in nursing school!? Don’t freak out just yet. If you are asking yourself, “how am I going to manage nursing school while being pregnant?” Keep reading. With a little planning, completing nursing school while pregnant is 100% doable. This post will provide you with 12 do’s and don’ts to successfully manage nursing school while being pregnant.


Do Nursing Schools Allow Pregnant Students?


Yes. Nursing schools must follow all federal regulations when it comes to pregnancy and college-level learning. While some people may choose to plan their pregnancies around nursing school, some may find themselves pregnant halfway through their nursing program. Luckily there are laws and statutes in place that offer some protection for pregnant women in nursing school.


5 Things You Must Know About Your Rights As A Pregnant Nursing Student


The following is not meant to be legal advice as I am not an attorney, but there are resources available online to guide you in the right direction. A lawyer who specializes in your situation should be consulted if you are struggling with a specific issue and have not found answers. The first thing you need to know is what is permissible and what is not permissible for schools to ask you if you are pregnant while in nursing school. Make sure you know your rights when it comes to pregnancy and school.

1. Nursing schools must excuse all absences due to pregnancy or childbirth with a doctor’s note. Attendance in a nursing school is crucial for your education and understanding of the material, but schools must excuse these. It is advised to schedule and plan as much in advance as possible to make sure you are not missing tests, quizzes, and are able to properly arrange make-up work. This is great for when you are able to plan what you need, but childbirth does not always happen at the best possible time. Not to worry, your schooling will not be jeopardized on this factor alone.

2. Nursing students must be provided with the same services as students with other temporary medical conditions. This may include additional time for assignments, temporary online schooling, or a school-designated notetaker.

3. Students who are pregnant during nursing school are protected from harassment and other forms of discrimination. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with comments or actions in your school setting, you should contact the administration as soon as possible. There are protective measures for pregnant women that should not be taken lightly. This can impact your psychological health and greatly impact your performance in nursing school if not taken care of properly.

4. Provide you with reasonable accommodations. Similar to the above point of having the same services available, there are other accommodations that pregnant women can have that others may not qualify for. You may be able to take more breaks or have someone designated to carry heavy objects for you. Another reasonable accommodation comes into play when you begin your clinical rotations. You may be expected to be on your feet for long periods of time and can be accommodated by more breaks or time seated. You may also need to decline care based on the specific illness a patient has because it is unsafe for you and your baby.

5. Nursing schools must allow students to return to the same level of education that they left when taking a medical leave of absence. If you are in a nursing program and have completed 1 year of the program, but had to take a leave of absence due to a pregnancy, you will not be expected to start the program over, but instead, complete where you left off and begin the 2nd year as if you had not taken time off.


5 Reasons Why It Is Hard Being Pregnant And Managing Nursing School


Being pregnant while in nursing school adds an extra element of stress and conscious thought. Being pregnant or being in nursing school exclusively can be a huge shift and adjustment in one’s life. Doing them simultaneously is no doubt twice as challenging when you look at it from the outside. Here are our top five reasons as to why being pregnant while in nursing school is so hard.

1. Stress:

There will be so much stress to adjust to when you are in nursing school, but even more when you become a new grad and have a newborn to take care of. Research has connected stress to increased blood pressure which can also impact your pregnancy. Stress and pregnancy can play a big role in the increased stress you might feel from school.

2. Time:

All of the time spent in school, doing clinical hours, in labs, and studying is time spent away from other things. It can be hard to manage all of the time commitments while in nursing school, but this is amplified when pregnant. There is less time in the day to take care of yourself, and in the later months of your pregnancy, it might also take more time to do simple tasks like tying your shoes or getting dressed.

3. Expenses:

Both nursing school and having a baby are expensive. This is a factor most people run into when planning their future. Some want children before their career begins and others want to complete all of their school prior to having babies. But for you, the expenses can all seem to hit at once. It is best to plan ahead as much as possible in order to have some sense of control of your finances.

4. Appointments:

Being pregnant involves a lot of doctor’s appointments and nursing school can be time-consuming by itself. Time spent at doctors’ appointments or worrying about your baby is time spent away from nursing school. As your pregnancy gets farther along, appointments become more frequent and require more time away from lectures, studying, or might cut into the already limited free time you may have.

5. Stigma:

There are many stigmas and stereotypes of pregnant women and you may have to deal with these from time to time. There are stigmas that you may not put nursing school first or that you will not be a good fit for the position because of the time you would immediately need to have off. This can play a role psychologically, but it does not have to stand in the way of your success.



12 DO’S OF MANAGING NURSING SCHOOL WHILE BEING PREGNANT


1. Don’t procrastinate.

Even if you aren’t pregnant in nursing school, this is a must-do! There are always running to-do lists and the best way to stay on top of them is to not procrastinate. The more assignments you can get done for your program, the less worry you will have about last-minute changes to your schedule and the management of your time. Procrastinating in a sure-fire way to not succeed while pregnant in nursing school. It takes your time to complete an assignment and makes it more of a burden than a grace.

2. Meal prep and meal plan.

Prior to starting the program, plan out your meals and have ready-to-eat food for when you are limited on time or pregnant. Learning how to use an instant pot or preparing freezer meals are an excellent way to reduce cooking time. This can also often be a healthier and more cost-efficient option. Once you are in a good habit and rhythm with how much food to make and when you realistically have time in your schedule to prepare the food, it can have a huge impact on your performance and reduce stress when pregnant in nursing school.

3. Budget for the future.

Nursing school is a huge expense. Pregnancy and raising a child is another huge expense. Having them overlap can be intimidating, to say the least. Not only making a budget but sticking to it can greatly influence your future as a pregnant nursing student. This may mean cutting out a few meals away from home or buying used textbooks this year, but budgeting now can have the greatest impact on your future. Start by knowing how much you will need to set aside for tuition, books, everyday living expenses, and then factor in being pregnant and life immediately after. Having a rough estimate of the expenses compared to your family's income ahead of time can help make important decisions now and shift your focus from spending to saving.

4. Move your body.

Exercise is a major stress relief and can be a great outlet for someone who is pregnant while in nursing school. Please consider speaking with your healthcare provider prior to exercising while pregnant. Though in most circumstances, it can have a positive effect, there are times where exercise is not advised and can have a detrimental effect on both you and your baby. If you are cleared to exercise, however, plan for time in your busy schedule to get your body moving. This can act as a brain break from studying and recharge your mind for the rest of your day.

5. Tell the faculty.

There is no reason to keep this a secret from your school. They have most likely had pregnant students in the past and may be able to share what was done to help them or give you advice in what they see fit. It is also important that they know for your own health. Having faculty and staff that know you are pregnant can keep you clear of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and other harmful viruses. This is especially important when doing your clinical rotations and should be mentioned to your clinical supervisor and preceptor as they might not know unless you tell them.

6. Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated.

These two factors can have a huge impact on your performance in nursing school. When thinking about pregnancy, you want to make sure the baby is strong, healthy, and given the best environment to thrive in. You might be surprised at how a nursing student's health might decline when put into a stressful academic situation or asked to perform skills which they are not yet comfortable with. While pregnant, it is crucial you put your needs above any others. By being mindful of your eating habits and consuming enough water, you can prevent major illnesses from even happening. A huge takeaway from this article is to plan and prevent problems for a more fluid transition from nursing student to mother.

7. Compression stockings.

Being pregnant in nursing school can impact your health. Wear compression stockings because of the hemodynamic changes that happen during pregnancy. This is recommended for all nursing staff, but extra precaution should be taken for those who are pregnant. Because of the physiological changes that take place, mothers are at an increased risk of DVT. Compression stockings can help with keeping blood from pooling in the lower extremities during busy clinicals.

8. Keep notes about your pregnancy.

Along with planning for nursing school and trying to prevent problems from occurring, keeping an accurate record of your pregnancy can help you stay organized and aid providers in the future if your health was compromised at any time during nursing school or the pregnancy. You will be overwhelmed by the information presented within nursing school, and having a place to keep track of your pregnancy-related issues will allow more room in your brain for academic focus. Make a journal to make it easier to recall questions at your next appointment as well.

9. Know your own personal limits.

Know when your body needs to rest. ASK FOR HELP. This may be from family, close relatives, a neighbor, whoever it is, if you need help ask for it. Do not expect others to bend over backward for you at any hour of the day, but if you know you have a big testing week and would like a few extra hours to study, see if someone close to you might be able to prepare a casserole or walk the dog so you don’t have to. You might be surprised at how much others will enjoy helping when they know you might be struggling. Don’t take advantage of other people’s kindness, but do ask for help if you need it. Don’t overdo it and rest when you need to. The compounded effects of burnout are more detrimental than taking a break that you need to regroup and get back on track.

10. Get consistent sleep.

For someone who is just in school, it might be tempting to pull an all-nighter for that last bit of studying or to complete an assignment, but while pregnant it might have more of an impact. Quality sleep is very important for the human body, especially for growing babies. By following the do’s and don’ts here, you will be able to allow for time to sleep consistently during your education and pregnancy.

11. Be open with your OB/GYN.

While pregnant in nursing school it is a good idea to be open with your OB/GYN about what the best options for your situation might be. They can provide advice and guidance to allow you to be the most successful nursing student you can be. Take their recommendations and evaluate how this might impact your day-to-day life. They may also be able to provide additional resources to benefit your overall well-being.

12. Stay organized!

This means being extra prepared prior to starting nursing school in all aspects of your life. Grab a planner that you love and start penciling in anything and everything you can think of. Keeping track of what is next on your list can ease the anxiety you might have with unforeseen circumstances and allow you to adjust more appropriately. When you are considering what to get organized, consider what you will need for school, and at home both during the pregnancy and immediately after giving birth. Whatever system works for you, stick with it. Staying organized can eliminate stress of not knowing what is next or forgetting to complete something important. All of these aid in your success as a pregnant nursing student.



12 DON’TS OF MANAGING NURSING SCHOOL WHILE BEING PREGNANT


1. Don’t overthink it.

It’s going to be hard and it’s going to be time-consuming, but you aren’t the first person to go through nursing school while pregnant and you won’t be the last. It is a short-term sacrifice for a long-term pay-out.


2. Educate yourself.

Your hormones might be wild if you are pregnant while in nursing school. Don’t let them get the best of you. Educate yourself, understand the shifts, and learn how to manage them. Some might be uncontrollable or happen at an inconvenient time, but knowing what to expect can change how you react and handle the overall situation. As always, be open with your OB/GYN so that you can get the support you need.


3. Don’t eat contraindicated foods.

This can be dangerous for you and your baby and warrant unwanted symptoms or time-consuming doctors’ appointments. There are guidelines and recommendations for pregnant women, so please educate yourself before eating whatever is most convenient at the time.


4. Avoid extreme heat.

Don’t relax in hot tubs or extremely hot bathtubs while pregnant. An excellent form of relaxation while pregnant in nursing school could be taking a bath, however certain precautions should be addressed and taken seriously. Reducing stress is critical, but not damaging the baby is even more crucial.


5. Don’t believe everything you read.

There are plenty of great resources for you to gain further insight into your pregnancy and what you should and should not do, but unfortunately, there is also a lot of invalid information spread. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your OB/GYN if you have any questions or concerns.


6. Don’t skip the flu shot.

Preventing pregnancy-related health concerns is essential to nursing school success. By getting your flu shot you can eliminate a lot of risk of getting sick, falling behind, and potentially harming the baby. In any case, most nursing students are required, or at least strongly encouraged, to receive an annual flu shot.


7. Go to the Dentist.

Being pregnant in nursing school can take a lot of time, energy, thoughts, and money, but one big thing you want to plan for is all your normal routine visits to doctors. Don’t skip your dentist appointments. This may seem like an appropriate time to skip out on “luxury” appointments because of the stress and commitment of being pregnant in nursing school, but there can be health risks involved with skipping these appointments.


8. Don’t smoke or be around secondhand smoke.

This might seem like an obvious one, but the damage to your respiratory system can have a huge impact on your child in vitro. There are numerous studies that directly link health concerns with smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke while pregnant. If this is a problem for you, there are resources and guidance available. Please speak with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. This might be an area of your life that takes most of your focus prior to starting nursing school, so that you are not tempted when in a stressful environment or exposed to other potential triggers.


9. Don’t be upset if you fall behind.

Being pregnant while in nursing school can add an additional challenge to complete the entirety of the program and you may have a build-in schedule to complete the program in a certain amount of time. There are pregnant women who are able to complete the program, but there are others who need to step back and evaluate their options. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you become your biggest threat to success. Accept the change in your path and do your best with what you have. Pick up where you can and don't be upset if it changes what you initially planned.


10. Don’t drink.

Drinking while pregnant can cause many health concerns for you and your baby and should be avoided at all costs. As a nursing student, it is important that you try to stay as healthy as possible. Excessive drinking, though may relieve some stress temporarily, does not fix any problem you might be having. If you are struggling in school or with emotional burden, there are other ways to cope. Not to mention the hangover and how impossible it would be to study in such circumstances.


11. Avoid caffeine.

Being pregnant in nursing school can make you feel extremely tired especially early on in your pregnancy. Avoid the temptation of excessive caffeine to get you through the day. You will be tired, embrace it and take breaks when you can without excessive caffeine. Becoming reliant on caffeine is no way to perform at your highest capacity and has been shown to have negative effects on your growing baby while pregnant. Always follow the guidelines and recommendations of your doctor. Your doctor may allow you to consume some caffeine. Talk to your doctor at your next appointment for their recommendations for your individual situation.


12. Don’t do everything alone, ask for help.

As previously mentioned, ask for help when you need it. This could be at home with the dishes or walking the dog. Or this could be at school with a concept you are not understanding. Make the most of your time and energy and ask for help if you need it. It wouldn’t be efficient to read and read a concept that just doesn’t make sense, ask your classmates or professors if there is another way it can be explained or extra practice you can do to better utilize your time.



4 Tips For Surviving Nursing School Clinicals While Being Pregnant


1. Ask for help

or accommodations even if you do not feel you need them at the time. There are processes and procedures that take place and it might not be an immediate accommodation so the earlier you can get those set up, the better the outcome when you do need them.

2. Stay hydrated and eat healthy.

Your health and wellbeing are the backbone of your success and a vital element of surviving nursing school clinicals while being pregnant.

3. Be vocal

about being pregnant, especially if you are not obviously showing so that the medical staff around you can watch out for you.

4. Sit down and take breaks.

Both physically and metaphorically. Do not try to keep up with the young seasoned nurses that fly around the departments like they are on rollerblades. If you need to sit down or cannot keep up while on rotations and are pregnant, it is okay to sit down and catch your breath. You are growing a human and may need to take a break from your clinical site if it becomes too much to keep up with. Take a leave of absence to regroup and be the best student nurse clinician you can be.


My Final Thoughts


I hope we’ve answered your question of “how to manage nursing school while being pregnant?” It may not be easy, but nothing worth having is easy. You can do this! And you will succeed! By following these 12 do’s and don’ts to successfully manage nursing school while being pregnant you will have a better understanding of your expectations and create an environment to foster your true abilities. Management of your time and health are the most crucial part when you are pregnant in nursing school. Both can play a big role in your overall success in earning your degree.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


1. Can I Get Kicked Out Of Nursing School For Being Pregnant?

No, you cannot get kicked out of nursing school for being pregnant if you are able to keep up with the rest of your obligations. What tends to happen is that being pregnant (especially unexpectedly) can cause increased stress and create an environment that is difficult to succeed in. If you let your grades drop and are not able to be a part of the class for these reasons, then you may be kicked out as anyone else would.

2. Are There Any Pregnant Student-Friendly Nursing Schools?

This would depend on many circumstances, but one thing to consider if you are pregnant while in nursing school is what will be the best learning environment for you and your baby. Some programs are based online and can give you the flexibility in your day or schedule to complete the assignments around doctors’ appointments or other factors. Some are more conducive to those who will be working during school and are held in the evenings.

3. What Happens If I Get Pregnant During A Fast-Paced Nursing Program?

The benefit to this is that you might not be pregnant for the entirety of the program, having an accelerated program means the overlap of being pregnant and in nursing school will be less. The downside to this is that you will be expected to have more of a commitment to the nursing program than compared to a non-accelerated program. This can impact your success in schooling if you are not well prepared for the pregnancy.

4. For A Planned Pregnancy, What Is The Best Time To Get Pregnant In Nursing School?

There are both challenges and advantages that would come with being in nursing school while pregnant if you are able to plan when this could happen.

An advantage to getting pregnant at the beginning of nursing school would be that you can prepare and appropriately take time off as you see fit, picking back up after a short leave of absence. A disadvantage would be having a newborn baby while you are finishing up your degree and beginning to work.

An advantage to getting pregnant towards the end of nursing school is that you can easily be pregnant and take courses but might have more difficulty during your clinical rotations if you are expected to stand and walk for long periods of time. Another advantage is that you will have the majority of your nursing school done prior to getting pregnant. It would depend on what program you are in and what takes a higher priority.

5. What Are The Consequences Of Having A Baby In The Middle Of Nursing School?

If you find yourself having a baby in the middle of nursing school, your physical health or mental health may be negatively impacted. Because of this, there is a chance that your grades could slip. Having a support system in place can help alleviate some of that stress and reduce the impact on any unintended consequences from having a baby while in nursing school.


Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN
Brittney Bertagna is currently a nurse and writer in Las Vegas, NV. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration she completed nursing school and became a registered nurse. While working a night shift in the neonatal ICU she went back to school to get her second bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University. Now she enjoys working with children in the surgical setting as well as with her adult patients as an infusion nurse.