Becoming pregnant while in Grad School

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Tyness, Mar 15, 2009.

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  1. Tyness

    Tyness 2+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    Does anyone do this? I mean I know it can happen, but does anyone chose to do get pregnant while in a psy.d or ph.d program? It is not like you can take off 6 weeks for maternity leave.

    I am just mulling over options. I dont think i want to wait 5-10 years to start a family, but when in grad school do you have the time? During the 4 years of school, internship, post doc? I dont know.

    What do you guys think?
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  3. Ollie123

    Ollie123 10+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2007
    Its been done, I'd wager most commonly later on in the grad school career after coursework is done. You won't necessarily be "less busy" then, but from what I understand its often a bit easier to set your schedule. It depends on the program, your advisor, etc. just how feasible it will be...some people might get frustrated with you, others will be completely supportive. That's probably true regardless of when you decide to have kids though.
  4. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2005
    it can happen. in my experience the women who get pregnant take a semester or year off to get situated.

    it's probably pretty hard during internship, but easier if you take a "dissertation year".
  5. Markp

    Markp Clinical Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    We have had 1st and 2nd year students getting pregnant and taking 6 weeks maternity leave. So, in some programs, yes, you can do exactly that.

  6. CheetahGirl

    CheetahGirl Clinical Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    formerly from Atlanta, GA
    I had one of my kids while in my Clinical Psych PhD program. Our program didn't allow you to take a semester had to take off a few weeks (the minimum amount where you could maintain your assignments) or the year because of the clinical training and coursework. It was incredibly hard to stay caught up on reading and I wouldn't recommend it for the first kid. I would try to have your baby during the summer or dissertation year (after your coursework is out of the way). Also, several women have had kids in my program (1st, 2nd and 3rd years).

    I would research your program's "maternity leave" options and talk to others that have been there. It's possible, but it'll be really hard on you and no one else (except maybe your partner who I hope will share the responsibility). :luck:
  7. Tyness

    Tyness 2+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    Thank you I really appreciate your advice.
  8. capitals


    Mar 11, 2009
    This is a FANTASTIC thread! Thank you for starting this! I'm very interested in the same issue. It seems helpful to look around and see how other students in the program are faring in this regard. I definitely intend to have a child after my second or third year. I, too, like the idea of aiming to deliver in the early summer, but alas, one can't always plan these things! Keep the conversation going...
  9. Tyness

    Tyness 2+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    I am glad that I am not the only one! I have emailed the schools I have been accepted into and asked about their maternity leave polices!
  10. Tyness

    Tyness 2+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    I guess we are the only ones with baby blues lol
  11. AryaStark

    AryaStark 7+ Year Member

    No, I CERTAINLY have them. However my boyfriend currently has other plans. "NO BABIES UNTIL AFTER WE BOTH FINISH GRAD SCHOOL." He's going to be in his 2nd year of law school this fall. Hopefully I'll be starting my first year of PhD :hopefully: This is going to be a long wait. This thread just makes me emo. haha

  12. moomin28

    moomin28 2+ Year Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    I share your concerns. I think I'm bit older than most applicants and I'm married. I certainly don't want to wait till I'm 40 to have kids which means I will most likely become pregnant while still in grad school. That's why when applying I chose programs that I heard are more accomodating to students with kids. I'm sure it won't be easy but it's not that uncommon so it must be doable :)
  13. MA Candidate

    MA Candidate 5+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2009
    Hello everyone,
    I stumbled upon this thread and, though it is old, I wanted to see if anyone had any additional thoughts about having a baby early on in the Clinical Psych Ph.D./Psy.D. process. I am currently a masters student but am going to be entering a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program next fall (fingers crossed...), and my husband and I would like to have a child sometime in the next couple of years. I am thinking that it might make sense to do so before starting the doctoral program. From what I have been able to find out, it seems like some of the most difficult aspects of having a child while in the program are the expense of childcare and the difficulty of leaving the young child at home to go to school, lab, etc. I have had great difficulty finding out school policies on taking semesters off, but from what I have read on forums many schools do not seem to have that option. Does anyone have any knowledge about this? (I would rather not ask prospective programs before being admitted, though maybe that's silly.) Additionally, does anyone know if it is easier to have a child in a Psy.D. vs. Ph.D. program?

    I would really love to hear from anyone else if they have done experienced having a child in one of these programs, or know anyone who has. Thank you so much in advance for any advice, wisdom, or experiences you can share.
  14. lookitssara


    Aug 30, 2009
    Not all departments may have a formal policy on having children, they should all have policies on leaves of absences. Mine is my program's handbook. For instance, we can request up to one year leave of absence during which our milestones are put on hold. It has to be approved, but I'm 99% sure having a child counts.

    Also, our department did institute new policies for new parents (mothers AND fathers, adoption as well as childbirth). I don't remember it all, but I believe it allows for 6 weeks of leave as well as a small stipend during that time (a little smaller than what a student would normally receive during that time).

    Finally, a TA of mine recently gave birth this summer before her 3rd year in a VERY intense doctoral program in sociology. Her adviser gave her the line of "Women have been birthing dissertations and babies at the same time for years, it can be done". I've also heard antecdotally that how easy the process is has a lot to do with your significant other's career flexibility.
  15. justme08

    justme08 2+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    I already have three kids and I think that will make a PhD program hard enough:)
  16. psychmama

    psychmama 5+ Year Member

    Aug 14, 2008
    NYC Area
    Umm yeah...been there, done that.
    It can be done though. Just give up sleep for a few years and you'll be fine. (j/k). ;)
  17. Psych2011

    Psych2011 2+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2010
    never mind
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  18. PhishGirl

    PhishGirl 2+ Year Member

    Feb 8, 2010
    Portland, ME
    It seems to me that this is the type of thing to consider before you go into grad school.

    My boyfriend and I plan to get married before I enter grad school. This decision is based on our long-term planning and because I don't want to have to deal with planning a wedding during such a busy, stressful time in my life. And we all know that having a baby is even more stressful than planning a wedding.
  19. MA Candidate

    MA Candidate 5+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2009
    Thanks very much for your feedback, everyone. I really appreciate it!
  20. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Then you haven't planned a wedding yet:laugh:
  21. GreenPsych

    GreenPsych 2+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    And I'm guessing you haven't had a baby yet :)
  22. InUrHead

    InUrHead 5+ Year Member

    Dec 14, 2009
    I love this thread!! Mostly because I decided to have a baby in grad school and I was just having this conversation with several peers/friends and there were several conclusions:

    1) DO NOT have a baby in your first or second year. Typical programs bog you down with so much work you are mostly in survival mode. By your third year (or later) things can settle down and you've learned how to manage 'life as a grad student'.

    2) If you come from a long line of fertile mertles, try to get pregnant so that you have the baby at the very beginning of summer. One of my girlfriends was able to do this, she had a June baby and was able to just take the summer off and be with her bundle.

    3) Do NOT get pregnant before or during internship. This is an intense year and unless you have already been pregnant and know how you are going to feel - you do now want to assume you will have an 'easy pregnancy'

    4) I totally agree with the above comment, which is basically what I did, in that I waited until almost all of my coursework was finished. I actually had two courses left but was going to take them online anyways , so I was able to stay on top of things and there was no interuption for my invovlement/completion.

    The end thought was that, yes you can totally do it. Should you? well only you can really make that decision for youself. Being a grad student is Hard - Being a Mom is both the most amazing thing in the world :love: and at times more exhausting than graduate school. Which leaves the final comment we all agreed on and that is 5) if you have a child, you need to be very good and ok with asking for help from time to time. That include friends, spouses, and family.
  23. HVD2011

    HVD2011 2+ Year Member

    Mar 14, 2009
    I think it is important to evaluate the support system that you have in place. There are so many requirements and hoops to jump through for a PsyD/PhD that you really have to be ready for the demands of both motherhood and grad school. Nontheless, I have many friends that have had babies through out my doctoral program and they seem to cope with the stressors. I know that I would not be able to, so I have decided to wait until mid internship to get pregnant.
  24. Angeleve76

    Angeleve76 7+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2007
    Totally can be done! I just had a baby boy 7 weeks ago and I am at the end of my 4th yr Psy.D. I had a scheduled C-Section in the middle of the semester of my neuro assessment class, which consequently is my last class...everything from here on out is seminars and dissertation and internship!

    I scheduled it for the night of class and was back the following week in class. Class is only a few hours long so not a big deal. Homework was tough, I pulled all nighters for papers and such, but you are so sleep deprived anyway missing a night to me felt better than sleeping for just 3 hours. I tanked up on all my reading prior to delivery. I did have to take a semester off from Practica, but luckily I had a great site that allowed me to come back the following semester. It is tough, but if you have made it this far then you will find it to be doable. Good luck!
  25. MamaPhD

    MamaPhD Psychologist, Academic Medical Center 7+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2010
    Totally depends on circumstances. I took an extra year in residence to start a family, since I was more in a hurry to have a baby than to finish my degree. My salary was paid that year by a competitive fellowship, so I had few external responsibilities. I submitted my internship applications late in my pregnancy and went on interviews when my baby was 4 and 6 weeks old. Not entirely the easy way, but I've seen much worse, and if given the option I'd do it the same way over again.
  26. maggie5


    Sep 15, 2010
    What a great thread! This is exactly the forum I was hoping to find. I'm hoping that you guys can give me some insight into a dilemma I'm facing... I am now starting my final year before internship. My husband and I are both ready to have children (we're a little older) and have been trying to get pregnant for quite a few months-- my plan had been to take a year off of the program before internship. This would have worked out nicely if we had gotten pregnant right away, but now internship applications are due in November and I'm not sure what to do in terms of going forward with applications if we do get pregnant in these next few months.

    Does anyone have any insight into how it looks to withdraw your application after you've submitted it (in case we are able to get pregnant)? Or have any other ideas about how to make this work? Any support and ideas would be so appreciated. :)
  27. mizrachfaith


    Aug 9, 2010
    I definitely agree..:)
  28. psychgirl77

    psychgirl77 7+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2008
    Thought I would bump this thread to see if anyone has been able to have kids while in grad school. I'm not getting any younger so I'm starting to consider doing this, but am unsure of the timing (i.e. getting pregnant before internship or during, taking an extra year before going on internship etc.). Would love to hear other people's thoughts.
  29. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2010
    My initial thought (as a potentially-chauvinistic male) would be to avoid actually having a child while on internship, if possible, for no other reason than the already-inherent time constraints. Given that you're only there for a year, and are required to meet APA's hours standards, taking off much more than a couple weeks could end up putting you and your internship site in a tough spot. That, and given how busy you'll likely be, you might not be able to spend nearly as much time with your newborn as you would prefer.

    Beyond that, my personal insights are significantly limited. I know people who had children while in grad school and were still able to graduate, although it did run them fairly ragged at times. Between the ones who "made it" and the ones who didn't, the biggest difference seemed to be whether the person took an official leave of absence from the program. Those who didn't graduated, and those who did generally never came back. But again, that's just in my own (limited) experience.
  30. psychgirl77

    psychgirl77 7+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2008
    Yes, to clarify, I meant getting pregnant while on internship, not having a child while on internship.
  31. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist 5+ Year Member

    Dec 29, 2011
    I have known several women who had children during various parts of the graduate school process. Internship is a bad idea, IMO, but I have heard that they'll let you take maternity leave at some places if you make up the time after. Throws off graduation and such, but it is possible.

    The most successful stories I have heard are about women who get pregnant on postdoc. In fact, when I went on postdoc interviews (neuro), every female fellow I interviewed with was pregnant! It's a popular time, to say the least...

    If you do it earlier, I'd recommend after courses and before internship. The women I knew who did it during this time typically did take a year off. I also know a man who took a year off to be a stay-at-home dad during this timeframe.
  32. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza 7+ Year Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    RE: pregnancy on internship. I think the answer also has a lot to do with what you want to be doing the year after internship. Will you have your dissertation done at the completion of internship and be ready to graduate or will you need a year after internship to complete it? Will you be applying to postdocs? Will you be on the academic job market?

    RE: pregnancy and graduate training in general. Not only do you have to consider official policies of grad programs and internships, you have to consider the more subtle potential consequences of your decsion. Just because a program has a policy which will let you take a leave for a year or a few weeks off of internship, will you "pay" for it in some other way later? Will it result in an assessment of you as not committed to your studies and career? When opportunities come up, will they go to other sudents first because you "are busy with your family"? Certainly not all environments are like this, but you really need to give some thought about what your environment is like. Our program had one (surprise!) pregnant student in the time I was there. She was granted a 1 year leave and made it through the program, but it seemed that she did experience some inappropriate criticism. We'd like to think that things aren't this way, but sometimes they are.

    This is the quandry of the modern woman. Many years in school + a ticking biological clock = bad combo!

    Best of luck in whatever you decide.

    Dr. E
  33. psychRA

    psychRA Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    There are a few people in my program who have done this. I would say that the women who had babies at the end of grad school (during year 4) seemed to manage okay. They were done with coursework, and while I think that they had to take time off from their paid RA jobs, they were at the stage where they had enough hours to apply to internship, and were working on the dissertation at home while caring for the baby. I'm not close with any of them, but I got the sense that they planned pretty carefully.

    Having a baby during internship seems much tougher. I don't think sites usually allow for much time off, and you have to make up the hours.
  34. ygritte


    Aug 5, 2009
    I thought I would comment on this as I am about to be a 5th year PhD student and am currently pregnant. I have chosen this stage for a number of professional and personal reasons. First, I am done with classes, and am just doing an extra prac for 10 hrs a week this coming year while I plan for and begin my dissertation. As I can work on my dissertation (and other side papers/projects) quite independently, I believe this will allow me to be almost done by the time I apply next fall, which will help my internship app. The prac was a choice, but I am at a site where I have been already been and I believe I have earned a pretty good reputation. Also, I love doing therapy. Basically, by not delaying internship, I am able to have a lighter schedule this year, while avoiding taking an official "leave." I know a few other women in my program who have made similar decisions, and any ill affects have had more to do with geographic restrictions than actually having children. In response to Dr. E, while I understand that there is stigma towards women with "families", it is also sexist, ageist, and all together disgusting. I don’t advise people make large life decisions based on opinions of disgusting individuals. If you work in the “real world”, most women are going back their 40hr + work weeks after they've had a few weeks/months to recover and bond, and do just fine. Not sure why this would be any different for a grad student. Also, people like this make me want to prove them wrong.
  35. wigflip

    wigflip 2+ Year Member

    Oct 18, 2010
    I'm not a parent, and I'm in another type of doctoral program (not clin psych), but the people in my program who either already had children or chose to have them during grad school seem to be afforded more sympathy than those of us with other caregiving responsibilities (eldercare, non-familial relationships). I find myself wondering if it's related to the fact that while many of the profs talk about their kids, I've never heard any of them talk about caring for elder family members. Makes me wonder if they're fobbing the carework off on siblings with less prestigious jobs...Anyway, I entered grad school before my elder parent's health went south, and I had no hint that this could happen before it did. I think it's great to have kids when you want and not be hamstrung by the folks chanting the "you women can't have it all" mantra, but consider the possibility that you could end up as the meat in a caregiving sandwich if something goes wrong with your grand/parents' health and no one else steps up to the plate. If I had kids right now too, I'd be completely sunk.
  36. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist 5+ Year Member

    Dec 29, 2011
    Excellent point - other forms of cargiving are likely (I'd imagine) to require more explanation and self-advocacy in order to get flexible scheduling.

    I wanted to add in that I knew someone pregnant on postdoc, and their schedule was cake after they had the baby. Go to come late, leave early, work from home more often, and received extra administrative support. They did have to make up their 3 month maternity leave at the end of the postdoc, but I actually have heard that some places will let those three months slide. Fair? Questionable.

    Not all places will be that understanding I am sure, but at least it seems to me that postdoc is a very common time to do it and some places sort of expect it/are prepared for it.
  37. Messler

    Messler 2+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2010
    I have 2 young kids and go to a doctoral program in clinical psychology. Its actually pretty easy with my wife being a stay-at-home mom. Anecdotal evidence suggests having one parent be "full time" reduces stress on the home front by about 900%.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  38. PsychMama23


    Oct 2, 2011
    I had a baby at the end of my 2nd year (not planned). It was very challenging, but ultimately, I got through it and I'm glad it happened when it did. He is 18 months now, and things are easier. Those first few months were rough. I would say that the feasibility of having a child in graduate school depends on several factors:

    1) Health insurance: Will your program cover your baby after s/he is born? How good is your maternity care? This may seem like a non-issue with an easy birth, but my son was premature and the medical bills were $100k for a 12-day NICU stay. I paid nothing thanks to good insurance, but it would have been devastating if that wasn't the case.

    2) Child care: Grandmas and great aunts watch my son for free. Child care in my area is $700-$900/month for full-time care, which is more than I can afford as a grad student. Daycare hours also aren't always conducive to late prac/study nights either.

    3) Time off from school: I had only 2 weeks off from class, and it was tough. I made the decision to do it rather than delay a year. If you can time the delivery for summer or afford to push things back a semester, do it. The difference between going back to a regular job and going back to grad school is that school/prac/research responsibilities don't end when you go home at night (at least for me). I'm usually working on something throughout the week and on the weekends.

    4) Support from your advisors, professors, supervisors, and PARTNER: This will make or break it, in my opinion. I generally had a lot of support from supervisors (taking breaks to pump, cutting me some slack after the birth), but some were not so helpful (e.g., not providing a place for me to pump). Institutions legally have to provide accommodations, but that's not always the reality. I cannot say enough about the support my husband provided! I would not have made it through emotionally without him. I had the idea that I'd just do schoolwork while the baby napped, or take him to the park and do my reading....and sometimes it worked out this way. But most of the time, it was more like, "babe, can you please watch the baby for 2 hours so I can go to Starbucks and write this paper - otherwise it's not happening." And he was there for me in those moments. It has to be a team effort.

    5) Your coping style: Can you handle a lot of stress? Are you organized? Can you function on 4 hours of sleep for 3 months while in school? Having a baby in grad school requires a sort of burning desire to persevere--at least in the beginning. If you are the type of person that has that internal drive, then it can be done.

    These are just the top things that come to mind. Obviously this is just based off my own experiences. I understand not wanting to wait - and I think it can be done if you have good planning, good care for the baby that you can afford, and tremendous support. If that's not possible now, I'd wait until postdoc. But regardless of when we decide to have children, it's always so hard as a professional parent! It's really hard to leave my baby every day, but I can't imagine my life without my work. That wouldn't have changed if I had my baby today, next year, or 5 years from now. And of course, I love him more than anything in the world! :)

    I am glad these discussions are happening so we can support each other!

    Good luck :)
  39. Pragma

    Pragma Neuropsychologist 5+ Year Member

    Dec 29, 2011
    Whoa...that is a LOT cheaper than anything I have heard in multiple areas of the country, although I recognize it can also vary by age. I've never heard of anything less than $1000 per month, and as they get older, I thought it was more like $1300-1500. But I haven't actively look - just discussed it with people I know with kids. I am sure preferences about daycare may play a role.

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