Rape-Related Pregnancy and Pregnancy Loss

Studying and Working When You're Pregnant or a Parent

Having a baby will disrupt your plans for finishing your education, continuing to study or working.  But that doesn't mean you'll pack away your dreams!  Now, more than ever, you'll need to hold onto them and build the foundations of a stable, happy future.

When you've been raped or abused, this can sound impossible.  It's not easy, but you're not alone.  Others have trod this path before you.  We know it's possible, we believe in you and we'll help you in any way we can.  There are many support groups online, such as Pandora's Aquarium and those listed at Herodes' Cave.  Have a look around and you'll find there's support there for you.

You're going to need to marshal your resources.  It takes courage to do that, but you're braver, wiser and stronger than you think!  It takes skill to direct your energies where they're most needed.  But it's a skill you can develop.  Depending on where you are in your life now, you'll have different problems to face.  Sometimes you'll feel defeated.  Sometimes you'll need to find another way of getting where you want to go.  Sometimes you'll have to change where you're headed.  Sometimes you'll need to rest, recover and rebuild.  Learning can be painful.  But stubborn refusal to lay down and die has ended in triumph before now!  So hang in there!

Photo from free-stockphotos.com

You might find this Bill of Rights for Survivors helpful.  You might also find reading this thread helps: if you're healing from sexual assault, read this every morning.  Being raped or abused damages your self-confidence.  It can also make it very hard to develop a realistic view of who you are.  That's something you need when you're making choices about study and work.  No doubt you have faults - all of us do - but you're a precious person who deserves to feel good about yourself.  If that's hard for you, you might try some of the resources about building self-esteem on the A Pregnancy After This? page here.  There's an unfortunate tendency for people to judge young mothers (and mothers in general, but that's another story!)  Many teenage mums feel very self-conscious about that.  You're not alone if you think it's wrong!  I hope in time we'll change society.  Perhaps laughter can help - see the Maternity T-shirt Ideas page here.  Campaigns like ActNow: Don't Shun a Young Mum and Respect Young Mums and web pages like Respecting Young Parents and Young Mums Deserve Respect are intended to combat this problem.  These pages might also help - Young Pregnant and Parenting.  In the meantime people like me are sending you caring thoughts, sympathy and respect.  A young woman (or a child) who's brave enough to have a child herself deserves all those things!

Photo by Iophoto, Dreamstime

If you haven't yet finished secondary school, talk to your school counsellor about planning your studies around your pregnancy.  If you plan to keep your baby, talk about the best time to return to school after the birth, and start planning childcare for that date.  You'll need to talk to your health carers about this, but this information about going back to work or school after having a baby might help you think ahead.  Be specific but stay flexible - you're going to need to see how you and your little one are going at the time.  As a parent,  you'll become expert at developing flexible plans and adjusting to the needs of the moment.  If you can, discuss your plans with your parents or guardians.  Listen carefully to what they have to say - they might help you foresee problems and plan their solutions.  They'll also be your closest source of help and support.  This book (or one like it) might also help you better understand their perspective: School-Age Parents : the Challenge of Three Generation Living 

 

Photo by Krasphoto, Dreamstime

If you need more help talking to your teachers, parents or guardians, try contacting a pregnancy support service near you:
The National Pregnancy Support Helpline
1800 422 213
Pregnancy Support Services Links from the Australian Government's Health Insite

Pregnancy Help Australia - warning - photo of very recent newborn baby on this page might trigger memories or upset you.
Pregnancy Support Services in Different Australian States and Territories
ACT - Karinya House (02) 6259 8998
SA - Louise Place 08 8272 6811
QLD - Glugor House, Boystown
07 3203 0235- 4 Airlie Ave, Deception Bay, QLD 4508, fax: 07 3204 1985, email: services@boystown.com.au
Open Family Australia

Pregnancy Support Services from the Evangelical Child and Family Agency - US
Teen Help-Lines National and International
- US
D.A.Blodgett for Children - Pregnancy Support Services - US
Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services CAPSS
Crisis Pregnancy Support Centers Links
- Canada
Option Line Find A Pregnancy Support Center - Canada
NCT (National Childbirth Trust) Pregnancy and Parenting Support, Including National Helplines, Courses, Online Forums, Local Branches with Activities etc.
- UK
Pregnancy and Childbirth - UK Sources of Information and Support

Pregnancy Help Everybody.co.nz - NZ
Coffee Group Pregnancy to Parenting
- NZ
Pregnancy Counselling Services
- NZ
Or call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 and ask how to find free or low-cost counselling and advocacy.  You might find these pages useful:
VIC Free or Low Cost Services (RMIT)
Free Mental Health Support Services in Australia
  
Lifeline Service Finder 
Youth Beyond Blue Australia
Relationships Australia - not for profit family counselling
You can also call your local rape crisis service for advice and counselling. 

When you're looking for someone to help you, you might find these pages on choosing a therapist and how to choose a therapist helpful.  These person you choose, along with your school counsellor, should help you develop realistic goals and connect you with the support and services you need to finish school. 

 

Photo by Krasphoto, Dreamstime

For more information about finishing school as a young parent, try these links:
Brave Little Bear: Resources for Pregnant Students and Young Mums

QLD Brisbane School of Distance Education
- also has very helpful general advice about finishing school as a young mum
QLD Pregnant and Parenting Students
QLD Cherbourg Young Mothers Program
 
QLD - Glugor House, Boystown 07 3203 0235- 4 Airlie Ave, Deception Bay, QLD 4508, fax: 07 3204 1985, email: services@boystown.com.au
NSW Plumpton High Babies - ABC television show about a program for teenage mothers at Plumpton High in NSW
Resources from Plumpton High Babies

NSW DALE Young Mothers Program in NSW 
NSW Strong Young Mums Project (Centacare Wilcannia) 
VIC Babies in the Classroom VCAL Program Opens Doors to Young Mums
VIC Continuing Your Education
VIC Talking Realities Program
VIC Attracting Young Women Back to Education
ACT Helping Young Parents Finish School 
ACT Services for Young Parents  
The Association of Women Educators (AWE) supporting the education of young pregnant and parenting women
Colleges Information for Students with Children and Single Parents - UK
Young Mothers Back Childcare Program - UK
Young Mums in Education - UK
Young Mothers Not in Learning - UK
Nothern Ireland School Aged Mothers Program - UK
Young Mothers Learning through the Open College Network - UK
Young Parents Programs in Conwy
- UK
Plymouth Young Parents Centre
- UK
Young Mothers Initiative, Fife - UK
Babies Put Teenage Mothers Back on Course

Young Mothers in Education Project, Galway
- Ireland
Young Mommies Homesite - US site, information and support communities for teenage mums  New Life Ministries Young Mothers Program and Adult Diploma - US
Nelson McIntyre College, Winnipeg Teenage Parents Program - US
Oregon Program Creates Bridge to Success for Teen Parents - US
AmericanAdoptions.com Education Options
- good information, but commercial site, US
Teen Moms Can Prosper - Canada
Daycare and Diplomas: Teen Mothers Who Stayed in School
 
Books, Babies and School-Age Parents: How to Teach Pregnant and Parenting Teens to Succeed 
Auckland Young Mother's Support Programme - NZ

Many people feel they're stupid or a failure if they have trouble finishing school.  Please, go easy on yourself!  It's difficult combining pregnancy or parenting with study, even when you're an adult and your pregnancy was planned.  If you're a teenager it's even harder because your brain's still growing and developing some of the abilities you need, like being well-organised.  Trauma makes it hard for anyone to be organised or concentrate.  So being a traumatized teenage parent's a triple whammy!  If you have trouble at school it's not because you're stupid, but because you're dealing with a lot (more than anyone should ever have to).  There's nothing wrong with you, only the circumstances, which you didn't choose.

Photo from free-stockphotos.com

Don't hesitate to ask for help.  If your teacher can't help you there and then, maybe she or he can suggest another time, another text-book or different practice questions, or someone else who can tutor you and bring you up to speed.  If money's a barrier to you learning all you need and want to know, it might be worth talking to someone from these organisations about whether they can help you, or asking your school counsellor to talk to them for you:
The Smith Family offers educational support
BoysTown Mentor-One Mentoring Program - Boystown also operate KidsHelpline, which might help you find the right person to talk to (see the Crisis Links page here).
St Vincent de Paul's Children's Education Fund 
Australia's Youth Mentoring Network 
Mission Australia Pathways Through a Successful Youth Program
Salvation Army
Your local Lions Club, Rotary Club, Apex Club, Kiwanis Club, and Freemason's may be able to help with financial assistance or tutoring from one of their volunteers.  It could be worth asking for volunteers at your local church too.

 

Photo by Tiero, Dreamstime

These pages about financial assistance might also be useful:
Studying Parents to Receive Childcare Support

Directory of Financial Assistance for Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Education in Australia
List of Educational Scholarships 
Australian Scholarships Network
 
Aboriginal Education Council Scholarships 
Education Foundation Scholarships  
SupportLine UK - Problems with Education
High School Scholarships in the US and Canada

 

Photo by Anzav, Dreamstime

Balancing your motivation to keep going and your ability to deal with different pressures isn't easy!  (Not for anyone, and certainly not when you're dealing with trauma too).  If it's all too much, don't give up.  Consider coming back to school, or completing your education in a different way later on.  Try to be specific about when, even if your plans change, so you have a clear goal to work towards.  Try to stay in touch, too, with people who believe in you and can help you get back to your studies.  You don't have to do this on your own!  You might also be interested in the resources for meeting other young mums on the A Pregnancy After This? page here, or in meeting other mums who're studying at Kidspot Social Balancing Family and Study: Motivation and Inspiration Group

These study tips might help too:
Young Adult Health - Study Tips

Study Tips

Bored of Studies Study Tips
 
Study Grandmaster Study Tips
Ten Tips for Studying
 
Online Academic Skills Resources
5 Tips to Make Your Life Saner as a Busy Student
 
Study Tips 4 Me 
10 Exercises for Improving Focus and Concentration 

 

Photo by Starush, Dreamstime

If you want to come back to finish secondary school as a mature age student, these pages might help you:
You can search here to contact your local TAFE or university for information about the preparatory courses and alternative access schemes they offer for non-school leavers. 
Mature Age Special Entry Schemes at TAFE

Some examples are - Swinburne TAFE Mature Age Students and Non-School Leavers or the University of Ballarat (TAFE) Humanities and Further Education Courses - University and TAFE preparation courses, and general education courses for adults who've had disrupted schooling etc.
University of Sydney Mature Age Entry Scheme 
The Mature Student Returning to Study - CSU

Distance Education at CSU 
Distance Education Options in Australia
Going Back to Go Forward: Adult High School Grads Earn Diplomas
What is Adult Learning?
 
Benefits to Being an Adult Learner 
eHow Going Back to School 
Helium Articles with Tips for Adults on Going Back to School
Tips for Adults Going Back to School
 
Tips for Adults Going Back to School 
Adult Back to School Planner - Canada

For information about financial assistance, see above.  

 

Photos from Janet Hope, Becoming Dr Mum Project

If you're already studying, about to start studying, or going back to studying at a tertiary level, the information above might help you and so might these pages:
VIC Better Health Channel: Mature Age Students

VIC Better Health Channel: Tertiary Studies - Settling In

VIC Better Health Channel: Tertiary Studies - Managing Stress
VIC Better Health Channel: Tertiary Studies - Time Management 
Freshest on Campus: Tackling University Study in Your 40s Can Be Daunting Writes Mary Costello 
Returning to Nursing After an Extended Absence
Good Uni Guide: Information for Mature-Age Students 
Open Universities Australia
For information about childcare services, see the website of (or contact) your chosen university, TAFE or college. 
Most tertiary institutions have student's associations, which can give you lots of helpful information.  For example the ANU Student's Association or Post-Graduate and Research Student's Association (PARSA).
The Becoming Dr Mum Project - a study about the experience of combining higher degree research with early motherhood
For information about courses, see the websites of the universities, TAFEs or colleges you're interested in. You might also find this Admission Guide for Post-Graduate School in Australia and this page on PhD Programs in Australia useful.
Wikipedia: The Open University - UK
The Open University
 
Northern College - Good Practice in Teaching and Learning - UK
Educating Mom
Should You Go Back to School?
- US
Thinking of Going Back to School
- US
Moms Under 30 Want to Go Back to School and Change Careers
– US
A Viable Option: Going Back to School for the Older Adult
Adults Going Back to School - Fitting In 
Advice for Single Parent Students  
The Mentor: Advising the Single Parent College Student
Single Parent Students 
Single Parent Program at Durham Technical Community College - US
Edison State College Single Parent Program
- US
Berkeley Single Parent Students
- US

For information about financial assistance, see above and also:
Single Parent Student Loan Programs
- US
How to Apply for Single Parent Student Loans - US
College Scholarships for Single Parents
– US
The Scholarship Process for Single Parents
- US

 

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

Many women work during pregnancy, so there's no shortage of information about it on the internet.  One of the first issues you face might be when and how to tell people at work you're pregnant.  These pages could help:
How to Tell the Boss You're Pregnant 
How to Tell People at Work You're Pregnant 
Telling Your Employer You're Pregnant 
Negotiating Maternity Leave
If you're pregnant through rape it may be especially hard to tell people.  See also the Finding Out and Telling page here.  If you're traumatized too, telling your boss you were raped might make it easier for them to understand and cut you some slack.  You'll need to consider whether they're generally sensitive and supportive and can keep a confidence. 

Remember, it's up to you how much you tell your boss or co-workers.  You'll need to tell your boss you're pregnant so he or she can plan ahead.  If your work's being affected because you're traumatized, it could be worth explaining to your boss that you're suffering from post-traumatic stress.  They might put two and two together, but many people will assume a car-accident or something painful in your past and avoid asking questions.  If they do, you can always say it's too hard to talk about.

It's unlawful to discriminate against someone because they're pregnant.  If you feel you've been discriminated against contact the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) or your union:
HREOC: Pregnancy Discrimination - A Growing Concern
About.com Pregnancy Discrimination 
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)  
Council of Trade Unions - NZ
WorkSMART Union Finder - UK 
Trade Unions of Canada 
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
Change to Win Federation
- more US trade unions

It's important to look after your health while you're pregnant.  These pages might help you stay healthy while you keep working:
Preparing for Pregnancy: Your Career

Pregnancy at Work (Australia) 
What to Expect: Pregnancy and Work 
Pregnancy at Work (UK) 
Dealing With Morning Sickness at Work 
Being Pregnant at Work  
Askbaby: Your Pregnancy at Work 
Pregnant at Work
About.com Pregnancy and the Workplace
 
Working During Pregnancy - A Healthy Me 
Stay Healthy While Working 
Work and Pregnancy
March of Dimes: Work and Pregnancy

Navigating Your Pregnancy at Work
 
Work and Pregnancy Do Mix - Canada
When to Stop Work 

Are you thinking of returning to work after your baby is born?  What do you need to consider?  

 

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

Breast-feeding a baby's a big job in itself!  So your choices about breast-feeding may affect your work choices and vice versa.
About.com Breast-feeding and Returning to Work 
Family Doc: Breast-feeding and Returning to Work 
Can I Continue to Breast-feed if I Return to Work?
Going Back to Work and Breast-feeding
Pumping at Work 
Part-Time Work Inhibits Breast-feeding  
Combining Breast-feeding and Bottle-feeding at Work
Breast-feeding and Bottle-feeding
Bottle-feeding: How to Make it Work - Ten Top Bottle-feeding Tips
 
Introducing Bottles and Pacifiers to a Breastfed Baby
The Top Ten Resources on Going Back to Work and Breast-feeding
 
Working Without Weaning: A Working Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding
 
Nursing Mother, Working Mother: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding and Staying Close to Your Baby After You Return to Work

 Photos by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

You might also find these general pages useful:
Deciding to Work After Baby is Born
Returning to Work: The Mother of All Decisions
 
Easing the Transition Back to Work for New Moms - US
Returning to Work After Baby 
Returning to Work (Newborn)
Returning to Work After Pregnancy 
New Moms Returning to Work
Welcome Back: Returning to Work After Your Maternity Leave 
Coping with Having a Baby and Returning to Work 
Returning to Work After Maternity Leave - advice on your rights in Australia 
Returning to Work After Maternity Leave (US)
Mothers Who Work: Getting Back to Work - UK 
Mayo Clinic: Maternity Leave - Tips for Returning to Work

Returning to Work After a Career Break or Maternity Leave  
Part-time Online Return to Work 
Tips for Mothers Returning to Work 
Getting Back Into the Workforce: Advice for Working Mums 
Career Mums
Mums at Work, Workshops for Returning to Work, Australia 
Return to Work Courses for Women
Workingmums.co.uk: Working Mums Employment Assistance Agency - UK
Working Mums - UK 

 

Photos by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

Most parents don't like leaving their new babies to go back to work.  It's even harder when you've been pregnant through rape.  You may be worried about your child's safety and well-being or feel you need time to recover from the physical and emotional turmoil you've been through.  You might feel worried about the future and your ability to look after your baby and yourself, or to meet work expectations.  It's normal to worry about these things.  Trauma just tends to notch up the intensity.  Be gentle with yourself and give yourself all the time you can to adjust.  You will be able to!  You might find these pages useful:
Returning to Work Blues 
Beating the Back-to-Work-Post-Baby Blues 
Returning to Work
Will My Baby Still Know Me After I Go Back to Work? 
Overcoming Back to Work Anxieties for New Moms 
Helping Your Baby and Yourself With Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety: When New Moms Return to Work 
Dealing with Separation Anxiety - Yours!
Cuddle Count Eases Angst of Working Mums
Getting Back to Work After Mental Illness 
Mental Illness: Negotiating a Successful Return to Work
Returning to Work Realistically
- Canada
Returning to Work After an Absence Due to Anxiety or Depression
- UK
Returning to Work After a Nervous Breakdown or Other Mental Health Disorder - US
Returning to Work After Experiencing Mental Illness and Other Mental Health Issues - NZ
You're not alone in feeling like this.  If you can, get support from other working mums, who know what it's like.  These pages might help you find them:
New Working Mum Blues - Thread on BlueSuitMom Message Boards 
A Working Mum: Meeting Other Single Mums
Care for Kids Working Mums Forum
Pandora's Aquarium
Herode's Cave List of Message Boards for Survivors

 

Photo by Anthea Sieveking, Wellcome Images

Once you're back at work, how do you make it work?!  These tips and stories might help:
Practical Tips for Working Mums
Mother Who? Personal Insights and Stories on Juggling Family, Work and Life
Tips for Working Mums 
Tips for Working Mothers
 
5 Tips for Busy Working Mothers 
Netmums: Working and Childcare 
About Kids: Advice for Working Mothers
Children in the Modern Office
Balancing Work and Family: The Experience of Low-Income Parents 
Information for Working Mothers 
Making it Work to Work  
Juggling Career and Family  
Working Mother's Survival Guide
42 Rules for Working Moms: Practical, Funny Advice for Achieving Work-Life Balance 
Briefcase Moms: 10 Proven Practices to Balance Working Mothers Lives
Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Family and Careers
Part Time Working Mothers and the Issue of Productivity
Mum and Working: Part Time Jobs and Jobs Without Set Hours - UK
When Your Job and Motherhood Don't Mix

 

I hope the information and resources on this page has helped you.  It can be easy to feel our worth's determined by our educational qualifications or jobs.  But you're much bigger and more valuable than these narrow measures of worth.  To your baby, you're the world!  Please try to remember how precious you truly are, and reach out for help if you need reminding.  Being a mother is a very tough job.  Healing from the trauma of being raped or abused is also very tough.  Give yourself credit for the daily miracles you're peforming.  If someone's badly injured in a car accident you adjust your expectations as they heal from the trauma.  Be ready to adjust your expectations as you recover from the trauma of being pregnant through rape.  Of course, you won't want to.  I think we all hate accepting limitations - it's part of the grief of dealing with sexual assault.  But what's happened has affected you.  It doesn't mean you can't recover (or grow).  But it means you need to be gentle with yourself!  If you find yourself unable to earn an income, there's no shame (though there's, unfortunately, always inconvenience) in applying for government assistance, or asking for help from organisations set up for that purpose.

For more information on government support in Australia contact Centrelink.  Here are some pages with information on social welfare in New Zealand, in Canada, in the UK, and in the US.

For more information about arranging support and care for yourself and your child, dealing with parenting issues etc. see the A Pregnancy After This? page here. 

Feelings and Thoughts:

Questions I asked:

If you've combined them with having a baby ... how? Do you have any tips or advice? What would you say to someone else contemplating studying or working with a baby? Do you have any advice on studying and working during pregnancy (including about telling people at work)? Also, if you aren't working or studying or didn't when your child/children was younger, do you have any advice or comments on what your experience has been like? 

Answers:

I didn't work in pregnancy, but had three young children when I began uni. I actually feel that undertaking something that fulfilled me made me a nicer parent. I needed intellectual stimulation beyond wiping bums and mopping floors.  It was tough, but worth it. What helped?

  • Night classes (and a supportive partner to take care of the kids was as asset).
  • Strict bedtimes for kiddies so that I could study of an evening
  • Being as organized as possible.
  • Leaving nothing till the last minute.