"A certain number of people ask for extensions and I'm happy to give them," says Stoloff. "I don't think learning needs to be confined to 15 weeks. I tell students all the time that life comes before the course."
Of course, a leave of absence is not necessary for all expectant parents.
Lisa Witzler, an ombudsman at the National Institute of Public Health, had her child a year into her doctorate program in conflict resolution.
Just two weeks after childbirth, she was on the couch and nursing while logging into her program.
"It was crazy," she says. "I was able to have a really supportive partner and that makes a huge difference."
3. Choose your courses wisely. At some point during your studies, students will have to take a course they find challenging. But immediately after pregnancy is likely not that time, experts say.
Babb suggests that new parents take courses they are confident they will be able to tackle.
"Avoid math and statistics classes," Babb says. The highest dropout rate she says she sees is in students who have a major life event during a math or statistics course.
Students should also consider the number of courses they plan to take after having children, experts say. One course might be manageable, but taking several while caring for an infant would be a challenge for many.
Witzler, who had her baby during her doctorate program, says she was thankful that she was only taking one course the semester after she gave birth.
"It was great timing," she says. "I just powered through."
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