Are you pregnant or wanting to have a baby while your spouse is in med school? Making these decisions can be difficult, but I promise having a baby during med school is not impossible! I’ve reached out to women who have had a baby while their husband was in med school, and here is a compilation of their best recommendations on how to get through this crazy time of life by adding one more wild adventure – a new baby!
1. Set Reasonable Expectations and Be Flexible
The rumors are true – when your spouse is in med school, they are not around as much as they may have been in other times of your marriage. If you are planning to have a baby, the best thing you can do for yourself is be flexible and set reasonable expectations, which sometimes means not expecting anything at all. I know this sounds crazy, but for me, not having any expectations of my husband made those moments when he COULD be around and spend time or help, moments that I was very grateful for. For example, my husband attended only one of my OB appointments prior to baby being born, and studied most of the time we were in the hospital. I was very lucky he was at a place where he could even be at the hospital rather than in labs, but this is not the case for everyone, especially in years 3-4 of med school. Not expecting much from him made for that one appointment he made it to extra special!
More about being flexible. Remember that we don’t really have much of a say in our husband’s schedule (when it comes to med school). They must attend certain lectures, be there for their preceptors, and not miss tests. This can be so hard for people like me (who love to plan and have a schedule), but being flexible and a little more laid back about expectations can make the world of a difference by reducing frustration you might feel when things don’t go exactly as planned.
There is a lot you can do to prepare for baby and make your life a little easier! Use all the “nesting” power that comes your way and get your home ready for baby by organizing things and setting up spaces for your baby. Freezer meals are a huge help! Many have gone to Citrus Pear classes (or something similar), have stocked up on Costco’s freezer meals, or swapped extra meals in the RVUCOM Freezer Meal Swap Group. Start thinking about when and how you’ll accomplish things that will be more difficult with a baby around (such as showering, working, etc.). For example, maybe you’ll transition your work hours from mornings to afternoon naptimes. Maybe you’ll download some apps that allow you to work or get other things done from your phone while you’re feeding baby. Even getting some disposable items (like paper plates, napkins and cutlery) can make your life a little easier by not having to do so many dishes. Ask friends/family to help with other children when you go into labor. You may consider having a backup form of transportation to get to the hospital, should you be unable to drive yourself and your husband busy with something med school related (or otherwise).
3. Say YES to Help, and Ask for it When Needed!
As hard as it can sometimes be, say YES to help! If you have family that offer to come help you after your baby is born, take the help (as long as this is not straining on your own mental health). If people offer to make you meals, watch your other kids, hold your baby while you take a nap, say YES! Reach out to people in your church, your friends from your workout class or other significant others that are also on this med school journey if you need something. People are more than willing to help and really want the opportunity to serve those they love – give them this opportunity!
4. Take Shifts in the Night
I had a friend tell me that getting a four-hour block of sleep per night was life changing after her baby was born! Babies like to be up every 2-3 hours to eat, so sometimes getting that block of sleep is difficult. Many have recommended having your spouse get up in the night to cover a “shift”, so you can get the sleep you need to function throughout the day. I always get stuck in this mindset that I have the milk, so it’s my job to feed. Not the case! Take a few minutes to pump throughout the day. If you loathe being hooked to a machine holding up two bottles of milk, try out some of the hands-free pumping options, or other milk-saving options like the Milkies Milk Saver product. If your baby takes formula, it’s even easier for your husband to help. Whatever you do, it will be WORTH IT to get that block of sleep. While your husband is feeding the baby, he can go through slides or flash cards on his phone!
5. Sleep When Baby Sleeps
I know you’ve heard this advice before. When you first have the baby, it’s REALLY tempting to use that time to clean your house, make cookies for the neighbors (or you, because sometimes after having a baby, you are ravenous), or get some work done. Just take the advice and go to sleep!
6. Communicate with Your Spouse – Verbally
Yes, verbally. I like to communicate with my spouse by giving him looks that I just know he’ll understand. Just kidding (but kind of not really…even after 7 years of marriage, this happens more often than I’d like to admit)! Respectfully share with your husband your expectations, disappointments, worries, feelings, etc. Even if he’s home for only five minutes, use that five minutes to help alleviate some of the difficult feelings you’re having by helping him understand what you most need from him, whatever that might be. Verbalizing and communicating is the only way you’ll get the support you need from him, because trust me, he has a lot on his mind and sometimes we are not easy to read! For example, after the baby is born, what I really need from my husband is help around the house. I breathe and function better when the house is orderly. Some people need their husband to take the baby so they can get out with friends. Whatever that need is, communicate it.
Speaking of communication, sometimes it’s even harder to get your spouse to communicate with YOU. My guy is pretty quiet, so when I do get to hear his feelings, I know what he’s saying is important. Ask them how they are feeling and understand their needs as well. Additionally, it’s wise for your spouse to communicate with the school, too. Make sure his instructors know what’s going on in his life and when the baby is due. Med school waits for no one, but sometimes having an extra day to take a test is helpful 😊
7. Schedule an Induction if You Can and Want to!
This is a very personal preference, but so many ladies recommended scheduling your induction so you can plan around tests and ensure your husband will be there for the delivery. Some have scheduled to be induced right after a difficult test or before a break, so your husband has a few minutes, hours, days or weeks to spend with you and the new baby!
8. Take Time for Yourself
Yes, your baby is adorable, wonderful and everything you’d hoped for. But you still need a few moments to yourself! Make it a priority to get the self-care and social interaction that you need. This time can help you stay balanced, keep you grounded and help you feel a little bit of normalcy in the midst of all the newness that comes with a little infant. Taking this time to care for yourself will help you return to your baby a little more energized and ready to tackle the awesome adventure of being a Mom!
9. Don’t Compare & Focus on the Good
It is so easy to feel like others have it easier. Let’s be real…many of them do :D. But let’s not go there…that’s a dangerous place. Being negative and feeling bothered that others might have more help from their husbands is going to get you nowhere, so don’t approach that. On the other hand, there are others who have it much worse. Don’t get me started on how blessed we are to be on the med school journey…I could go on for months. Simply try to be grateful…grateful that your husband is working hard in school, grateful that you have a little baby joining your family. Even on the hardest days, think about all the good in your life, even if that “good” is that at least baby took a 15-minute nap today! I’m not saying to cover up or hide your feelings. It’s definitely okay to have a good cry and express frustration, but when you get a minute to step away from those feelings, try to focus on the good.
10. Give Yourself Grace!
There is no easy way to say this – you will NOT be able to get as much done with a baby that you were able to get done before. Accept this harsh reality and give yourself grace! Understand that you won’t be able to keep a perfect house, have dinner on the table every night, always take a shower, etc. You have a baby now, and that baby needs a lot of your time. Don’t be hard on yourself when things aren’t done the way they used to be. This new adventure comes with new adjustments, and with time, you’ll find a pattern and new expectations for yourself and your home that work for your personal situation. Embrace the change and enjoy the journey!
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Remember that the amazing Medical Spouses & Partners Members are here to support you. We are all on this journey together. If you have any questions, comments or fantastic ideas that weren’t shared in this article, feel free to comment and share below!