Christmas 2016 Giveaway!

Christmas is only a few days away! Whether or not you participate in this holiday, this month is often celebrated as a time of giving and joy. We thought that it was only right to join in the seasonal fun and send a little holiday cheer to our groups around the country. This year, we are giving away stickers! (YAY!) On Wednesday, December 21st, we will post (on this page) a sign up sheet. The first 50 student leaders to reply will receive 100 “I support pregnant & parenting students” stickers for their group!

Thank you for all that you have done to spread love and generosity to the pregnant and parenting students in your community. We hope that you continue to do so (with these stickers!) in the New Year.

**Please return on Wednesday to sign up**

(Limit: 1 set of stickers per student group.)

Thank you to all who participated! Groups have been notified, and your stickers will be mailed out by the end of the 1st week of January. Happy New Year!

 

International students find pregnancy support at ASU

xun-and-wife-and-jackie-asuWhile many students will be “far from home” as they pursue their college education, “far from home” takes on new meaning to an international student. Coming to the United States for college may mean mastering a second language, acclimating to a different culture, and tackling all the challenges of young adulthood without family nearby.

But what happens when an international student (or their wife or girlfriend) becomes pregnant? Who is there to help them? Thankfully, at Arizona State, international student, Xun, and his wife found the support that they needed through ASU Students for Life.

Read what ASU Students for Life had to share below (found here, Oct. 21st):

“With permission from the parents, ASU Pregnant on Campus is OVERJOYED to share the story of Xun and his wife…and their unborn baby girl due this December!

A few years ago, Xun, an international student, noticed the ASU Pregnant on Campus table while walking through campus. He immediately thought, “I guess some students may need services like that.” Little did he know that in his last year of college he would be one of them!

He brought his wife from China to the United States, and they became pregnant without any insurance to cover prenatal care or their baby’s delivery. Their parents pressured them to abort, but Xun and his wife knew they did not want that. Despite the odds, they wanted to have their child.

wife-xun-arizona-stateRemembering the POC table he had seen years before, Xun wondered if our initiative was still around. With a quick Google search he was able to find our website and contact us to explain his situation.

Our chairwoman at the time linked him with Aid to Women Center (ATWC), a low-cost prenatal care provider for women without insurance, and also supported him through determining eligibility for AHCCCS state health insurance to cover the cost of delivery. Xun and his wife were impressed with ATWC and are still receiving care there, and they have been approved for insurance too. Their baby girl is due this December.

It was a joyful emotional moment for our chairwoman to meet them face to face for the first time this week! They are so grateful for all the help they have received and said that without ASU Pregnant on Campus, they could not have gotten this far in their pregnancy.”

 

This post is shared with permission from Xun’s family and ASU Students for Life. See more Pregnant on Campus efforts at Arizona State University here. To share your story, contact Beth Rahal, brahal@studentsforlife.org 

Top 12 Public Colleges for Pregnant and Parenting Students

Students for Life of America, the nation’s largest pro-life youth organization, released this year’s list of Top Colleges and Universities for Pregnant and Parenting Students – Public School Edition.

“Unexpectedly finding out you are pregnant as a college student can be terrifying, lonely, and a huge shock. These students need support and encouragement, and the schools that go out of their way to offer programs, housing, scholarships, and childcare to these students should be commended,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “Instead of sending pregnant students to the nearest Planned Parenthood, these schools have put a premium on offering pregnant and parenting students the resources they need so they don’t have to choose between the life of their child and their education.”

According to a 2014 Guttmacher study, 42% of abortions are performed on college aged-women, ages 18-24.  Many students feel the pressure to choose an abortion over parenthood, while others feel the pressure to drop out of school and choose parenthood. The top two reasons these mothers give for having an abortion is not being able to continue their job or education and financial issues. But another study done in 2014 shows that 4.8 million undergraduate students are parents of dependent children, making up more than 26% of college students.

SFLA released its first Top Schools for Pregnant and Parenting Students last year but many of them were private Christian or Catholic schools. This year’s list only consists of public universities, a couple of whom were on last year’s list as well.

“Instead of alienating pregnant and parenting students, these public universities are extending a helping hand and making it possible for students to continue their education and care for their families,” said Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director for Students for Life of America.

In addition to the list below, pregnant students on campus can find excellent resources at www.PregnantonCampus.org, a unique website that has compiled lists of housing options, material resources, financial aid, and support groups at hundreds of schools across the nation.

“We hope that these universities will set the standard when it comes to an attitude of making campus a pregnant and parenting friendly place. They all deserve recognition and applause for their willingness to help all their students succeed,” concluded Hawkins.

Students for Life of America used the following criteria to determine the list of the top schools that foster an environment of true choice, where students can choose their child and their education:

  • The school must have some of kind of support program or network for pregnant and/or parenting students.
  • The school has policies in place that specifically welcome and accept pregnant/parenting students.
  • The school has scholarships for Pregnant/Parenting Students.
  • The school offers housing for students with dependents.
  • The school offers additional resources like lactation rooms, diaper decks, child care for students’ children, etc.

Celebrate Your Campus Resources!

how-can-we-support-flyer-on-campusThanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all the great people and blessings in your life. Our Pregnant on Campus team is grateful for the many campus and community resources that help support pregnant and parenting students. These resources help students stay in school and take care of their kids.

Tangible resources and community support make it easier for pregnant and parenting students to be an active part of your college community. That’s why this Thanksgiving, we are challenging you to go out, find your resources, and celebrate them! 

Our Challenge

From Monday, November 14th through Saturday, November 19th, help us find campus resources for pregnant and parenting students. Here’s how it works:

  • Challenge your group members to find one of the resources listed each day.
  • Take a photo! (Or use a photo from a past event)
  • Post your photos on your student group’s social media account with a description of the resource.
  • Add the hashtag #ParentingStudents 
  • Tag our Pregnant on Campus Initiative on Facebook and Instagram (@PregnantOnCampus).

The top 3 groups that post the most images on social media will win:

Contact Beth Rahal (Pregnant on Campus Director at brahal@studentsforlife.org with any questions. GOOD LUCK!

Resources Scavenger Hunt

You have 6 days to find these resources. Here are each day’s topics and recommended resources. Now go find them!

Day 1: Monday, November 14th

Community Support: Who can pregnant and parenting students go to for life-affirming support? Who can they go to who will be kind, caring, and helpful? What can that person (or group) offer the student?

  • Your student group
  • Pro-life professor, staff, or administrator
  • Residence advisor
  • Pregnancy support advocate
  • Pregnancy resource center
  • Campus ministry
  • Campus counseling

Day 2: Tuesday, November 15th

Pregnancy Help: Where can you get free pregnancy tests and pregnancy options counseling? Who will support the student throughout her pregnancy?

  • Your student group
  • Campus health center
  • Local pregnancy resource center

Day 3: Wednesday, November 16th

Child Care: Where can students take care of their child? How can they go to school and take care of their baby?

  • Diaper changing stations
  • Lactation (Mother’s) rooms
  • Child care center
  • Student group babysitting services
  • Family study room

Day 4: Thursday, November 17th

Financial and Material Support: Who can pregnant and parenting students ask about financial assistance? Are there scholarships on campus for pregnant or parenting students? Where can students get free baby or maternity items?

  • Financial aid office
  • Your student group
  • Scholarship committee
  • Pregnancy resource center
  • Office of Family Resources

Day 5: Friday, November 18th

Academic Support: Who can tell a pregnant or parenting student about Title IX rights, school policies, and classroom accommodations? Who can help her find flexible class options?

  • Title IX Coordinator
  • Academic Support
  • Disability Services
  • Office of the Registrar

Day 6: Saturday, November 19th 

BONUS RESOURCES: What else does your school and community have to offer? Tell us about resources like:

  • Adoption support
  • STD Testing
  • Family housing on campus
  • Local maternity home
  • Family events
  • After abortion counseling

(Don’t forget! HASHTAG #ParentingStudents and TAG @PregnantOnCampus.)

Examples of Images

 

 

Everybody Gets a Diaper Deck!

Where it all began

babychangingstationsonline-comIn March 2015, we shared with you Ashton Kutcher’s campaign to increase support for dads. Ashton started a Change.org petition which received over 104,000 supporters. In the petition, he shared:

“As a new dad, I recently learned an unfortunate reality about changing diapers while out in public with a child. Almost all public changing tables are in women’s bathrooms, which makes it nearly impossible to find a table that’s accessible to dads. As crazy as it sounds, many stores don’t give dads the option to change their babies’ diapers. It’s 2015, families are diverse, and it is an injustice to assume it’s only a woman’s job to handle changing diapers. This assumption is gender stereotyping and companies should be supporting all parents that shop at their stores equally – no matter their gender. Changing tables in men’s rooms will be a tiny step in the long process of rectifying the legacy of gender discrimination, but it’s a step we need to take. Dads, like myself, want to participate equally in the child care process and our society should support that.”

The petition succeeded! It opened up a dialogue with Costco and Target to increase accessibility to these resources. Costco promised to provide Family Restroom options in new warehouses, and Target promised to include diaper changing stations (aka diaper decks) in women’s, men’s and family restrooms in new stores.

Government Action

Our politicians must have noticed this change in conversation. Representative David Cicilline introduced the BABIES Act on April 29, 2016. This act became law on October 10, 2016. Here’s what it provides:

Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act

This bill requires male and female restrooms in a public building to be equipped with baby changing facilities that the General Services Administration determines are physically safe, sanitary, and appropriate.

Such requirement shall be subject to any reasonable accommodations that may be made for individuals in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Such requirement shall be inapplicable to a restroom in a public building that: (1) is not available for public use, or (2) contains clear and conspicuous signage indicating where a male or female restroom is located within the same section or corridor of such building.

In a statement on his website, Rep. David Cicillline (sponsor) stated:

“Federal buildings are paid for by taxpayers, and it’s important to ensure that they are as open, as accessible, and as family-friendly as possible. With this new law now in effect, Social Security offices, Post Office buildings, and courthouses will be more accommodating for working moms and dads in Rhode Island and across the country.

I thank President Obama for moving swiftly to sign this commonsense proposal into law, and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress for coming together to get the job done. This is how government should work to make commonsense reforms that make life easier for the people we serve.”

Prior to this law, there had been zero federal laws regarding diaper changing tables. Now to be clear, the BABIES Act will only impact bathrooms in government-owned or government-financed buildings (e.g. public libraries, court houses). But it is a first step toward reducing the indignity that parents frequently face when trying to care for their babies in bathroom stalls. However, we hope to see these actions set a positive example for our communities and local business owners.

Changing College Campuses

Thanks to this new legislation, we are already seeing a change on college campuses! This Wednesday (October 12th), University of New Mexico student leader, Sade Patterson, introduced her resolution to Associated Students of UNM senators to challenge the school to provide diaper changing stations in all public restrooms on campus. The resolution referenced New Mexico’s HB 538, a law which requires that “baby diaper-changing stations be equally available to men and women in restroom facilities in a place of public accommodation.” And with the recent passing of the BABIES Act, it is no surprise that this resolution passed.

sade-unm-proposal-passed

EVERYBODY GETS A DIAPER DECK

Let’s just say that our Pregnant on Campus team is a little (*okay, super) excited to see these changing attitudes and action sweeping the country on behalf of parents everywhere. We encourage your group to take up the charge as well by proposing new diaper changing stations for your school. See our activity guide here: Diaper Changing Stations.

Contact your SFLA Regional Coordinator for support and advice as you push forward your proposal.

oprah-you-get-a-diaper-deck

 

 

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Director. If you would like to share your group success or a personal story, please contact Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org

Read our previous post on this issue:

Ashton Kutcher’s Crusade

 

Claflin, Clarion, & Christian schools support pregnant students

Claflin changes its tune

Last week, Kamaria Downs headlined in local and national news for her efforts to confront discriminatory pregnancy and parenting policies at her Christian university. When Kamaria became pregnant at Claflin University (a private South Carolina university affiliated with the United Methodist Church), Kamaria was forced out of her pre-paid campus housing. She did not receive a refund and ended up living with a professor.

Claflin University had received exemptions from parts of the federal law (Title IX) which protects pregnant and parenting students from discriminatory policies and procedures. Prior to Fall 2016, pregnant students were not allowed to stay in campus housing after the first trimester, and they were required to provide medical documentation (not required of other students).

Kamaria shared with NBC News, “I had to conceal my pregnancy from everyone and the university made me feel ashamed to be pregnant. I had to stand up. It wasn’t right.” With the help of a legal non-profit, Public Justice, Kamaria confronted her university. Thanks to Kamaria’s courageous stand, the university decided to change its pregnancy and parenting policies. The university issued a statement clarifying the change:

“Claflin’s new Title IX policy ensures support for pregnant and parenting students; addresses academic and extracurricular accommodations; and provides details regarding the availability of campus residential facilities.  The policy previously listed in the 2015-2016 Residential Life Handbook has been rescinded.”

Christian universities and Title IX

This isn’t the first instance of pregnancy discrimination on a school campus, and frankly, it won’t be the last. The Pregnant on Campus Initiative has worked with and heard from students across the country who have experienced (or witnessed) pregnancy and parenting discrimination at their Christian universities.

Unplanned pregnancy happens to all types of students (and employees), and unfortunately, many Christian students feel isolated and ashamed when they become pregnant outside of wedlock. The social stigma and pressures of the Christian community lead some to seek abortion, while others feel forced to leave their Christian school. When Christian universities allow for discriminatory pregnancy policies and practices, they potentially put their students at greater risk for moral sin or abandonment of faith. (In fact, about 54% of abortions are obtained by self-identifying Christian women.)

However, there is often disagreement on Christian campuses as to how to best respond to the needs of pregnant students while also respecting Biblical traditions and enforcing moral student conduct. In light of this, dozens of Christian universities have applied for and received Title IX waivers from pregnancy and parenting related issues that in turn dramatically impact pregnant and parenting students (and employees).

We understand that these are challenging issues to respond to and that there are sincere concerns about condoning premarital sexual activity on a Christian campus. Nevertheless, we believe that Christian schools must compassionately address these situations without isolating, abandoning, or shaming pregnant students.

Making a change

Good news! Claflin University is not the only Christian school speaking out in support of pregnant and parenting students. Colleges like the College of Saint Mary (NE), St. Catherine University (MN), Belmont Abbey College (NC), and Misericordia University have established housing and parenting programs for pregnant and parenting students. Meanwhile, St. Louis University and the University of Notre Dame have comprehensive resource databases, staff support, and other key parenting and educational support resources to assist pregnant and parenting students.

More recently, Clarion University is one such Christian university stepping up to make a change. Student leader, Kara Sorenson, learned about Feminists for Life’s efforts in pregnancy and parenting support after hearing Serrin Foster’s presentation “The Feminist Case Against Abortion.” After the presentation, Foster challenged Clarion students to identify resources such as childcare, housing, maternity coverage, and transportation. During this Q&A session, it became clear that many students were unaware of resources and felt that Clarion students would have limited options in cases of unplanned pregnancy and parenthood. Concerned, Kara made it her mission to identify more resources and to learn what could be done to improve Clarion’s pregnancy and parenting support. In her efforts, Kara learned that the university had previously offered a daycare center and a place for mothers to change diapers and breast-feed. However, many resources had been removed due to budget cuts, renovations, and administrative turnovers.

Inspired and motivated, Kara invited Serrin Foster to facilitate a pregnancy resources forum with Clarion administrators and community members. In May 2016, Foster returned to campus to moderate a FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum, which brought together a panel of 12 Clarion University administrators and four community leaders. The result was Clarion’s new “Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative.”

Clarion’s new Initiative

Clarion’s new initiative provides a clear plan and vision for addressing the needs of pregnant and parenting students through a comprehensive network of support. Clarion’s Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative states:

“Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative is an interoffice collaboration that attempts to serve the special needs of pregnant and parenting students. Substantial national evidence demonstrates that students who become parents during their college studies have a very high dropout rate.  PPRI believes students should not have to choose between being parents and completing their education. PPRI has sponsored Pregnancy Resources Forums conducted by Feminists for Life, Inc. to address the specific needs of pregnant and parenting students.”

The university’s goals include:

  • To support pregnant and parenting students at Clarion as they strive to attain a college education;
  • To advocate for these students in the areas of advising, housing, childcare, healthcare, resource identification, and financial aid;
  • To organize social and professional networking opportunities.

According to Sorenson, new resources for Fall 2016 will include:

  • A map of where parents can find ramps for strollers and bathrooms that have diaper decks
  • A student parent group on campus through the Pregnancy and Parenting Resources Initiative
  • An annual Christmas party for parents and their children (hosted by a student group)

Be a part of this movement

We hope that these schools continue to develop such programs and lead the way for other Christian universities to take note and take a stand. If your Christian school wants to join these schools in better supporting pregnant and parenting students, please contact us! Email Beth Rahal (Pregnant on Campus Director) at brahal@studentsforlife.org for support.

Claire: One Year Later

Anja and ClaireA year ago, Claire Crawford was experiencing one of the scariest, most challenging moments of her life. She was a pregnant student not sure of what to do or where to get help. At 5 months pregnant, she had lost her 2 jobs and dropped out of college. At 7 months, she left a bad relationship. Claire had no idea what she was going to do to take care of her baby boy. Thankfully, Claire had the help of her local Students for Life group and was able to find the peer support, baby supplies, and local resources that she needed to choose life for baby Taylan and to build a new future for her family. Claire’s courage to reach out for help changed her life– and now she’s returning the favor.

Since her pregnancy, Claire has transformed her life. The once scared, pregnant teen is now a strong, empowered advocate for women in her community. While being a student of Holmes Community College and parenting her son Taylan, Claire is constantly helping women in her college community. Many of the women she meets are going through similar experiences. Claire understands the place they are in, and she advocates for them in every way that she can.

An Advocate for Women

This past year, she has worked with Mississippi State University Students for Life to speak to their group about her testimony of rejecting abortion. Her experience has allowed her to be a safe and trusted confidant for women. Women (who have previously chosen abortion) feel comfortable coming to her when they become pregnant again and need support. After sharing their stories, several of these women have offered to help other women choose life.

Since becoming an advocate, Claire has provided resources and supplies (collected by MSU Students for Life) to nearly 20 pregnant and parenting women! Claire has worked with MSU Students for Life, her local Pregnancy Resource Center, and local pro-life advocates to get these women everything they need: supplies, parenting classes, information, adoption resources and emotional support. Many of these women have also become advocates, and they have joined these efforts by donating their own used baby items.

Lives Saved

Claire is not only changing lives; she’s saving them! Three mothers chose life because of Claire’s compassionate efforts to support and help them.

  • “Mother A” was pregnant and unsure of who to turn to for support. Claire directed her to the pregnancy resource center that she (Claire) first got help from as a pregnant 17-year-old. Together, Claire and the center’s staff gave this mother the encouragement that she needed to choose life for her baby girl. She is now working, and she loves being a mother!
  • “Mother B” needed not only support to choose life, but also a place to live after her parents threatened to kick her out if she did not choose abortion. With the help of Claire, the local pro-life community, and MSU Students for Life friends, this mother had a place to live, missed her abortion consultation, and instead received care at a pregnancy resource center. This mother shared that she loves her tiny baby before he or she is even here.
  • “Mother C” was already a teen mother and post-abortive. She was at very high risk of choosing abortion. Claire was able to pass along MSU Students for Life resources and supplies that made her feel empowered to choose life for her baby boy.

Claire- 4One Little Post

The stories of women helped by this one mother could go on and on. And yet, all this began with one seemingly insignificant post on a pro-life student’s social media page. One simple post snowballed into dozens of lives changed and at least 4 babies saved (including little Taylan).

This story goes to show that even when you aren’t seeing the fruits of your efforts, your Pregnant on Campus outreach may still be impacting dozens of lives around you.

We are so proud of Claire for her courage in choosing life for Taylan and for her compassion to speak out and support other women. So many lives are being impacted by this one woman, and we know that this is only the beginning.

 

Content and images for this post were contributed by Claire Crawford (parenting student) and Anja Scheib (pro-life student leader). If you have a story to share, please contact Beth Rahal at brahal@studentsforlife.org

Mississippi student moms share their stories

Shurnita

Every year, we receive stories from all over the country of parenting students and their incredible successes on campus. These young moms and dads work hard to care for their children and achieve their degrees. We are proud to share with you these parenting student success stories provided by Students for Life student group leaders in Mississippi.

Shurnita: “My life has a purpose.”

This school year, Shurnita, a junior in Wildlife at Mississippi State University became unexpectedly pregnant. Her on-campus counselor let her know that there is a group on campus that has a program called the Pregnant on Campus Initiative. She contacted MSU Students for Life for help continuing her education while pregnant. Although being pregnant and taking challenging classes proved to be an intense balance, Shurnita had a community of students at her school willing to find baby items, job listings, and classes for new moms. As she prepared for her baby boy in the spring semester, she had a team of friends making sure that she had everything that she needed to succeed as a mother and a student. Not only did she survive pregnancy on campus– she thrived. Shurnita achieved the best grades that she has had in her entire college career.

Shurnita and Adrean

She attributes her academic success to two things: “I have to succeed in order for my son to have everything he needs. Being pregnant helped me realize that my life has a purpose and someone needs me and will always love me. That helps me continue to strive for success.”

Shurnita also shared: “Students for Life’s Pregnant on Campus helped me realize that I’m not alone and that someone will always be there if I need help. They helped me prepare for my son.”

Adrean was born this May to a loving mother and a supportive Students for Life family. Shurnita will return to school as a senior in the fall.

 

Jalissa: “I’m proud of my decision.”

Jalissa

Jalissa, a senior at Mississippi State University studying Psychology, found herself in a difficult spot. She was a mom to a brand new baby girl and was a full time student. Her on-campus advisor referred her to Students for Life’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative. She soon realized that she had a group of peers more than willing to help her find resources, job listings, babysitting, daycare information, and emotional support. Jalissa described the support she has received: “[Pregnant on Campus] has provided resources for me that I absolutely didn’t know existed. The group also goes a little further than expected to help and that is amazing!”

Jalissa and Baby

Hannah Loper (the President of the Students for Life group at Jalissa’s school) described working together with student mothers: “I’ve loved working with our student moms! It’s opened my eyes to struggles that I never would have thought about when I had not met them. These moms have given us a chance to walk the walk and show that we want to see them and their babies do life well. That experience means the world to me!”

Jalissa is expected to graduate this December and to pursue a career in counseling. Her daughter, Jordyn, continues to bless her. Jalissa wants to share with the world, “I’m proud of my decision to stay in school while being a mom!”

“I’m a mom, and I stay up all night and still go to class and graduate in December!”

Amber: “It’s empowering.”

Amber, a sophomore in Anthropology at Mississippi State University, became unexpectedly pregnant during the school year. Her church referred her to her campus’ Students for Life Pregnant on Campus Initiative for the aid that she needed. Since coming to SFL’s events, she has experienced an outpouring of support from the community of peers and individuals who want to see her succeed as a mom and as a student.

Vice President of the group, Maggie Thomas, describes her own involvement this way: “Getting the opportunity to work with student parents made me realize how strong these parents are. They work so hard to make sure that they and their children have the best future possible. It’s inspiring to see them balance so many roles and be successful. They are not only role models for their children, but for me and those that get to work with them.”

Amber and Riley

Amber described the empowerment she felt since being supported by the group. “Before, I walked around campus so embarrassed because I’m not married and I’m young. I didn’t know how many women on campus were in my position, and it’s empowering to have a group of women beside you through it. It’s like a little community. It’s great, and everyone is so helpful. If I needed something for my son, I could just ask!” Amber attended her campus baby shower hosted by MSU Students for Life and received several items from members of the community that SFL was happy to deliver to her. By the time her son was born, she had everything ready for him!

Amber also has a passion for other young pregnant and parenting students, and she is always eager to help. Her son Riley was born in May, and she shared that she loves “talking to him about everything!” She hopes to pursue a career in Biblical Archaeology after graduation. She shared, “We are determined to graduate so our children will have the best lives possible!”

 

Aysia: Determined to succeed

Aysia and group

Aysia, a senior in Biomedical Engineering at Mississippi State University, discovered that she was pregnant before returning to school in the fall. She remained determined to carry her baby and return to school. She saw the Students for Life table at her school’s Club Fair on the first week of school. It was her first week as a pregnant student right when she saw the sign-up sheet. Aysia attended the Interest Meeting and decided to become a member as a pregnant, pro-life student.Throughout her pregnancy, her school’s Students for Life came together to throw her a baby shower, refer parent classes, babysit, and build lasting relationships. Aysia attended almost every Students for Life event during her pregnancy, worked night shifts on campus, and walked from her apartment to class every day.Fearlessly, she even joined her school’s archery team.According to former President of MSU SFL, “She never complained. She only insisted on persisting.”  

Aysia

Unexpectedly, Aysia needed to give birth a month early right in the midst of finals week. Rushing to her unplanned doctor and hospital, she prepared herself for a premature birth. Her boyfriend, Roderick, immediately came to be with her through delivery. Friends she made at Students for Life were able to visit the hospital to give her things her and her baby needed.

Her baby girl, Evalyn, is a gift to the whole MSU Students for Life team. Mama, baby, and dad are often at Students for Life events on campus and have a made a habit of always giving as much as they receive. Aysia plans to be an optometrist after graduation.

“I’m continuing my education and caring for a four-month-old.”

 

 

Thank you to student leader Anja Scheib for collecting these powerful stories! All images and quotes were provided at the consent of the named parenting students. If you have a story to share, contact Beth Rahal at brahal@studentsforlife.org

7 Self-Care Tips for New Mamas

Baby Thaddeus RahalAs a new mama, you may feel the need to become a martyr to the cause of Motherhood– running ragged from no sleep, skipping showers for days on end, and jumping to attention at every baby sigh and cry. Yes, your baby needs constant care and attention, but so do you! Your physical and emotional health matter, and if you start neglecting your personal needs, you will see that lack of self-care unleasantly manifest in other parts of your life. Take care of yourself. You matter. 

(Not a new mama? Share these tips with a mom-to-be!)

#1: Sleep

You need your Zzz’s. Take them while you can! A quick cat nap here and there while baby is sleeping will do wonders. You’re probably going to be up every 1-3 hours during the night; so take advantage of the daytime naps when possible. (And student mamas, remember that Title IX allows for excused absences when recovering from childbirth.)

#2: Shower

No, I’m not kidding. Shower. I’ve heard this over and over again from new and veteran moms who lament that they are regularly skipping out on that sprinkle of bliss and solitude. Ladies, take back your shower time! If you have a newborn, that baby is going to be napping regularly throughout the day. Put her in a safe sleeping spot like her bassinet or crib, and take 5-15 minutes to refresh. If you have a baby monitor, bring it in the bathroom and turn up the volume, or simply set a timer on your phone to make sure that you are in and out in a reasonable time. If you feel nervous about leaving your baby out-of-sight, place her in a secure carseat, bassinet, or bouncer in the bathroom. It’s okay if she wakes up and cries. She’s within sight, and you will be with her in a moment.

#3: Get out

Whether it’s a quick trip to grab a coffee or a light stroll around campus, get out of your dorm or apartment. Fresh air and the company of others will do wonders. Beth and Baby in CarrierText a friend to meet up for a cup of coffee or some other sweet treat. You may have only 20-30 minutes, but it will be a nice break seeing another adult. It may feel overwhelming at first, but you will get the hang of it. Pack up that sweet baby, and go!

#4: Treat yourself

The first few weeks and months of that post-baby body are awkward and sometimes discouraging. It took 9 months for that baby to stretch you out; so it’s going to take some time to adjust. In the meantime, it can help to treat yourself to a little beauty pick-me-up. Take 5-10 minutes to put on fresh make-up. (You are gorgeous, Mama!) Go out and buy a couple new outfits that you feel beautiful and confident in. Ask your partner or family member to watch the baby to go get a hair cut.

#5: Let others help you

You do not have to be supermom. You just have to be mom. Loving, caring mom. No superpowers required. If your friends or family offer to bring food, accept it. If they offer to hold that delightfully screaming baby, let them. If they say “Go out I can watch the baby.”– go. You are allowed a break. You don’t have to do this alone. (Hint: If you have a Students for Life group on campus, they may be available to babysit for free.)

#6: Make the time

So you may be looking at #1-5 and thinking “Yup. Nope. Not happening!” And I don’t blame you. Sleeping?!!? Showering!?! GOING OUT!?! It sounds too good to be true! Now, hold your eye roll for a moment, and let me tell you this– It is possible. (*gasp*) Like most things, it’s all about prioritizing your time and embracing realistic expectations and outcomes. You can shower. You can put on make up. You can go out for a quick treat or even a whole meal if you make the time and commit to doing it. Baby may cry. Maybe she’ll poop all over that cute tutu. Maybe you’ll end up sitting in your car in a parking lot hugging your fresh cup of coffee while baby sleeps in the backseat. Allow yourself the time to do the little things that make you feel like “you” again.

#7: Trust your instincts

Beth Rahal and Teddy- TBTBy now, you’ve probably witnessed or experienced the ever dreaded “mommy wars.” These battles of petty and sometimes downright mean comments about others’ parenting decisions can be a real killjoy! It’s funny how everyone seems to ha
ve something to say– even the non-parents! Trust yourself. Don’t become consumed and worried over others’ criticism. You know what is right for you and your baby, and you (more than anyone) will be able to pick up on your baby’s signs and needs. If you’re not sure or doubting yourself, ask your doctor or pediatrician, your mom, or even another mom for advice. Go online or pick up a parenting book. Pause. Take a deep breath. You’ll do fine.

 

 

This post was contributed by Beth Rahal, Pregnant on Campus Coordinator. The images used in this post are the property of Beth Rahal. If you would like to contribute to the Pregnant on Campus website blog, email Beth at brahal@studentsforlife.org