If I wanted children, I think a Ph.D. might have been a mistake.

posted 8 years ago in Babies
Post # 3
1016 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

I don’t have any advice but I would say that more and more women in their mid-late 30’s are having healthy pregnancies all the time.  I’m 33 and am currently pregnant for the first time. WAY back in the 70’s my mom got pregnant for the first time at 33 and had two more at 35 and 37 (me!!!) so although statistics start to work against you, it’s not impossible.

Is there any reason now that you have to worry about TTC later?  Maybe talking with your OB-GYN would ease your mind a little?

Sending good vibes – don’t panic (if you can help it…)


Post # 4
7081 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2009

Hmm… I’m sorry you feel that way.  I finished a residency and a fellowship and a post-doc before I had my baby.  I was 38 when I had the baby.  The way I feel now, with a 6 month old…. I know I could have another one too, but we only want the one and we’ll probably adopt a second later.

So if you finished your whole program in the average amount of time, you’d be 32. And if you did a post doc you’d be 33 or 34, which is plenty of time to have as many kids as you might desire.

Don’t panic.  Getting a PhD is a great goal and if you are really motivated, maybe you’ll even finish in slightly less than 7 years!

Post # 5
313 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I know someone who is in a similar situation except that she is further down that path than you now and has very little hope for starting a family.  I am in no way trying to tell you that pursuing your Ph.D. is the wrong idea, I am just saying that I think it may be time to lay everything out and decide what will make you and your husband happier in 10-20 years and beyond that.

Good luck with your decision-making 🙂

Post # 6
287 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

i was in a 7 year doctoral program and i can’t tell you how many people had babies during that time! i wouldn’t throw in the towel for that reason alone – there are always ways to do it. some ended up taking a semester off or easing back on courseload for a semester. if you’re flexible and your program is willing to work with you, it can be done. 

Post # 7
14183 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

As far as the chemicals go, there are always ways to avoid and protect yourself from them. You may look like you are prepping for a nuclear disaster, but there are LOTS of women in industries (particularly ones that tend to house more formally educated women) that have children later in life. The few women I work with tend to have children in their 30’s. Doctors, scientists, professors–it seems very common in those fields!

35 is not too young. Maybe you should talk to some women who have been there, done that!

Post # 8
2820 posts
Sugar bee

I have my PhD in the sciences and am happy I finished it (I’m pregnant and 29 and also didn’t want to wait too long to try for babies).  

There were several women in my class who had children during their grad years and it lengthened their time in grad school by a little but they’ve all finished or are finishing soon.  It’s definitely possible though I’ve learned since that it’s not only about your advisor but about your school to an extent.

I was lucky to go to grad school where there were women who did good science and seemed like they were good mom’s.  My post-docs have not been so lucky.  The first department I was in there were zero women who were even married, let alone had kids.  Whereas all the men were married with kids, it was a really weird environment.  The next very short post-doc I did I worked for a husband/wife team who had kids and I thought would be great, little did I know they are horrible horrible people and parents (you can PM me if you want to know the details).  Even though they work with dangerous stuff, that was especially dangerous to fetuses, they basically said to deal with it or leave – no extra precautions for pregnancy.  Because of that and many other things I left.

So I’ve seen the good side and bad side of motherhood and science.  And even though my most recent experience has been extremely negative, I’d still say the PhD was worth it.  There are lots of mommy friendly jobs for PhDs and though they’re not quite as prestigious as having your own lab, they’re still good jobs (and not that you have to give up having your own lab but it takes longer).  

Post # 9
6351 posts
Bee Keeper

Could you take a haitus? Is this possible? Are there pieces of your studies that don’t involve chemicals? Is it possible to stack those classes together during your pregnancy? I don’t know if any of those are even viable options but I’m trying to help 🙂

I have close friends who had their first child in their early 40s. It is possible nowadays but you have to focus on what you want. When do you want to become a mother? There are pros and cons of having children in your 20s, 30s, 40s. I’m 28 with a first grader and I find that most of her classmates’ parents are at least 10-15 years older (if not more) than I am.

Post # 11
536 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2007

I’m not sure how it works in the sciences (all my PhD experience/knowledge is in math and epidemiology, where you’re only exposed to large amounts of data and awkward people), but if you wanted to get pregnant during your PhD, could you try to time it for a period where you could spend more time on lit reviews or paper writing, rather than actual labwork?

Post # 15
2767 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

I’m in a science PhD too.  I’m in my 5th year.  There are a few graduate students in my program who have got pregnant.   It’s possible to be a student and a mom.  I don’t know if their advisors were too happy with them, but it’s the law that they are allowed to take a maternity leave.  All of these students also had husbands in the same program.  So the baby was being raised by two grad students.  The moms took the paid 6 week maternity leaves and then came back to the lab (they didn’t take the additional unpaid 6 weeks).  The babies are in daycare while the parents are in school/lab.

I think it is definitely possible to have a baby while in grad school.  I know I wouldn’t want to do it on our measly stipend.  However, I do think my school adjusts the stipends of new moms and dads.  They get an increased stipend due to the financial hardship a baby brings.   So you may want to look into that and ask your financial aid office about that.

Also, my institution tells us that most of the chemicals we work with won’t harm the developing fetus.  And I work with some scary stuff – like radioactive Chromium 51 and carcinogenic substances.  I know plenty of women who were pregnant and still continued to work with these substances in the lab.  Our safety office will give pregnant women radioactive badges if they want one, it allows for monitoring of exposure.

Anyways, grad school is probably one of the better times to have a baby in my opinion.  I hear it only gets harder once you are a post-doc.  I don’t plan on being a post-doc, so I’m hoping that I can have a baby a few years after my PhD once I’m in a normal job.

Post # 16
2820 posts
Sugar bee

Talk to your OB, early 30’s really isn’t that old by any standard that I’m aware of to start trying but I’m not familiar with your conditions.  

My husbands in the dual degree so we timed ours so he would be in the writing phase of his PhD. Since it happened quickly for us he’ll probably have a few months of experiments to do but then basically get to work from home and write up his thesis (but he also has a very family friendly boss).  

I know a lot of women who did a version of this but usually got pregnant close to when they were going to start writing and wrote up their thesis while pregnant.

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