If you’re pregnant on campus, you are probably feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, but know that you are not alone. Your college or university must follow Title IX guidelines: The school cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, which includes pregnancy and parenting. There is guidance for faculty and staff about how they have to ensure the rights of pregnant and parenting students.
You can talk to your college counselors about being pregnant on campus using these tips.
1. You have options. You can choose to raise your child alone or with the child’s father, or you can choose to place your child in foster care, or in an open, semi-open, or closed adoption. You can tell your counselor that you would like to receive information about your options.
2. Check out your local pregnancy resource center. They will be able to provide additional resources and support and personalize solutions tailored to your needs. You can ask your counselor about your local pregnancy resource center that will support you not only with what you need during your pregnancy, but also with what you will need after your child is born.
3. You can ask about pregnant and parenting resources on campus. Your health center staff can offer confidential help confirming the pregnancy. They can also inform you about what your college health plan provides for students who are pregnant or parenting on campus including what medical benefits you can receive and may lead you to more community resources. Your local pregnancy resource center will also know about public resources, such as WIC and food stamps. After your baby is born, they can tell you where to find lactation centers and identify restrooms with diaper decks.
4. Talk to your adviser about your course load and when the baby is due, and keep her/him informed. If you are not getting the support you deserve from a professor or other administrator, ask your adviser for help. S/he wants you to succeed!
5. Know what to do if you need to miss class, how to talk to your professors about missing classes, and the details of your remote learning options.
6. Ask about child care services on campus. Your counselor can provide you with information about local babysitting co-ops and on or around campus day care programs. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have!
7. Financial aid officers can inform you about available grants or scholarships for parenting students.
8. Coaches will ensure you are redshirted, so you can take time off without penalty.
9. Counselors and chaplains are trained to help with relationship issues. Pregnancy can add additional stress to a relationship, and sometimes, talking to someone can make a big difference. However, if you are experiencing interpersonal violence, they can refer you to a domestic violence shelter. (Oftentimes, finances stress the relationship, so also be sure to also talk to financial aid staff.)
10. Ask the director of housing to advise you on affordable on- or off-campus residences that accommodate families. Dorms are not typically equipped with safety windows.
11. Learn your rights before talking to your professor about being pregnant and accommodating your pregnancy.
12. See if there is a parenting group on campus. If not, you can start your own!!
If you don’t get what you need, know your rights, and keep on advocating.
Remember that for some students, transferring schools, or even going online, makes sense for them. Do what is best for you.
By Editor-in-Chief Serrin M. Foster and Elizabeth Troutman