University can be a very daunting experience for some, and the addition of pregnancy can make it even more challenging. Having the right support systems, however, can make it much easier.
Stellenbosch University (SU) has free and confidential support systems available for students dealing with pregnancy while studying, such as the Unit for Psychotherapeutic and Support
Services that takes care of students’ psychological needs, and Campus Health that provides medical advice or references for physical aspects of pregnancy.
Elmarie Kruger, senior counselling psychologist at the Centre for Student Counselling and
Development, said that childbearing out of wedlock can “make it difficult for young mothers to socialise with their friends and can isolate them from known friendship circles in some instances.”
“However often it is for some to feel isolated, others might look at it as a manner to overcome barriers of success as becoming pregnant and unmarried is not seen as an end to one’s future,” Kruger added.
Kruger further emphasized that it is important for people close to the pregnant student to be supportive, assist them practically, encourage them to take care of themselves and to refrain from judging them.
Dr Lynne Julie, a general practitioner at SU Campus Health Services, said that “being pregnant is not an exclusion criterion for being able to study.”
“Being pregnant is not an illness, although some people think it is, and you can do anything as long it is not harmful to you and your baby. You need to make sure you get enough sleep and rest, eat enough meals and have a balanced diet,” Julie said.
Julie added that “the only place in Stellenbosch for the termination of pregnancy is the local clinic, but there are also other places in the Western Cape where Campus Health can refer pregnant students to.”
Julie further emphasized that “it is important to receive the right antenatal care including healthcare for both the baby as well as the mother, and this can be done at places with the appropriate facilities like a clinic or gynaecologist.”
Robynne Alexander, a student currently doing her Postgraduate Certificate in Education, is one of the students who managed to cross the hurdle of pregnancy while being a student. She found out she was expecting in September 2016 while she was in her second year of doing BA Humanities and gave birth in July last year.
“I just went on normally with my studies. As I am a religious person, I never considered terminating my pregnancy. I was 8 months pregnant when we started with exams and it was challenging because I had to come to class every day and on top of that it was winter. My due date was 18 June and I finished with my exams on 7 June,” Alexander said.
Alexander’s advice for students going through the same situation is that they need to focus on themselves and continue chasing their dreams.
“You need to be your own hero – don’t wait for someone to come and save you, and continue with your daily life as far as you can.”
Photo: Janique Oliver