Pregnancy whilst studying
When you find out that you are pregnant it is normal to have questions and it can be an emotional time that involves planning for the future. Finding out you are pregnant whilst studying at university can give you even more questions and decisions to make about your life and future. Your circumstances are individual but this page is aiming to give you some general advice and signpost you to services which may be useful.
There is detailed information on the process the university follows on the Academic Registar's pages.
Regardless of if you are proceeding with pregnancy, or planning a termination, there is a range of services within the university that can assist you with everything from your practical concerns such as finance or studying plans, to your emotional wellbeing. The level of support you gain is dependent on what you require.
The first thing to do is to talk to your GP; The GP can confirm your pregnancy and provide you with medical evidence to give to the university. The GP can link you into the vast array of local NHS services.
If you're pregnant but not sure if you want to continue with the pregnancy, find out about the options available to you and where to go for help.
If you have made the decision to terminate your pregnancy and do not wish to disclose the reasons for time off you can inform the university that it is on “medical grounds”. You may seek support in how you cope during this time from the university Wellbeing and Student Support or other specialist services within the community.
Letting your department know
If you are continuing your pregnancy is advisable to talk to your personal tutor as soon as possible so that they can risk assess your study environment to ensure that it is safe for you and to support you in planning for the academic year. If you are uncomfortable with approaching your department please talk to Wellbeing and Student Support because if the university does not know, then we will not be able to take into account your individual circumstance.
A risk assessment does not assume that pregnancy will incur ill health and for many courses the risks will be low; courses that involve the following are more likely to present greater risks:
Physical activity, including lifting and carrying
The use of chemicals, including paints and pesticides
Exposure to radiation
Working in compressed air environments, such as underwater diving
Where exposure to infectious disease is a possibility, including laboratory work,
Healthcare provision, and looking after animals or dealing with animal products
If you are on a placement during your pregnancy a risk assessment should be undertaken of the placement environment too.
Adjustments and Leave
Pregnancy does not mean you need to leave your course of study. You are protected by the Equality Act 2010. There is an array of arrangements which may be made such as taking temporary withdrawal or reasonable adjustments so that you can continue to sit exams or complete coursework whilst pregnant. The university can make arrangements such as extra exam time to allow for rest breaks or alternative seating.
You should also inform your department of any antenatal appointments so that they can arrange the time off. Prospective fathers at university are also entitled to time off for antenatal appointments and delivery days. Temporary withdrawal may vary in length of time depending on your circumstances.
By communicating your needs with your department the university will be able to identify what supportive actions it can take.
Planning for return
Before maternity leave tell your personal tutor of your preferred means of contact whilst away from the university, by communicating it will ensure that you can be confident that things are in place for your return.
It is also advisable to start planning childcare during your pregnancy. The university has its own nursery service.
Depending on your accommodation needs you may need to liaise with the Accommodation Office.
If you are requiring a private area for breastfeeding please liaise with your department about provisions that can be provide.
Who is here to help?
Wellbeing and Student Support are here to help. If there has been any impact on your wellbeing please contact us via the Wellbeing Portal.
Student Finance department – can advise on the impact on your student loan and may be able to signpost you to grants or benefits. Your Student Loan can continue for up to 60 days from the beginning of any period of interruption of your studies. You will, however, need to inform the Student Loans Company of your circumstances. You will also need to apply for maternity benefit, and information about this can be obtained through your ante-natal clinic or from the Student Financial Support Administrators at the University, who can also help you with your approach to the Student Loan Company.
For international students the international office will be able to advice on any implications it may have on your visa
The students' Union Advice Centre may also be a source of practical information and signposting