Whether an exciting and intentional decision or completely unexpected, a pregnancy in college can raise many anxieties, fears, and questions as we make decisions which feel best for us moving forward. Below we provide some answers to some of the most commonly asked pregnancy-related questions asked by UW Madison students!
There are no wrong answers in this journey! No matter what decision you make in your pregnancy, know that you are respected, supported, and fought for by Sex Out Loud.
How do I know if I'm pregnant?
Pregnancy tests are available for free at the Campus Women's Center and through UHS!
The earliest signs of pregnancy often evoke symptoms similar to PMS in the body. These symptoms may include tender or swollen breasts, fatigue, slight bleeding or cramping, nausea, headaches, mood swings, or no symptoms at all!
At the end of the day, the best way to tell if we're pregnant is to simply take a test! Urine pregnancy tests work by detecting levels of hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin), a hormone which increases rapidly in the body during pregnancy. During pregnancy, our body's hCG levels double every 36 - 48 hours with peak levels occurring at around 10 weeks. Blood tests, which test for the same hormone, are also available through our healthcare providers.
Pregnancy tests are widely available but can drastically range in price. Pro tip: tests from the dollar store are a cheap and effective option! We can also pick up a test at any drug store, through UHS, the Campus Women's Center, online retailers, Planned Parenthood, & more!
Will UW Madison help me?
Title IX protects you!
Title IX protects members of our campus community from discrimination against pregnant and parenting students on the basis of sex. A full list of protections can be found here!
Pregnant and parenting student rights include:
1. equal access to schools and activities
2. to choose to participate in separate programs for pregnant or parenting students
3. to be excused for absences due to pregnancy or childbirth for as long as is deemed medically necessary by the student's physician
4. To attend class and school activities without submitting a doctor's note
A non-exhaustive list of accommodations: parking permits, elevator keys, backdated withdrawals, incompletes, extended deadlines, excused absences.
Will I qualify for government aid?
You may qualify for benefits!
Navigating government aid can be a confusing process, and while we can't claim to be experts, we want to reassure you that there are programs in place to help. The following is a nonexhaustive list of government aid programs that may be handy to you and your family.
WIC (Women, Infants, & Children)
WIC serves: pregnant people, those who are breastfeeding, postpartum folks, infants, & toddlers and children up to 5 years of age
Wide range of supports including formula and breast feeding support
More information on eligibility
SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs)
Formerly known as "food stamps" - functions as a debit card to purchase food items at authorized SNAP grocery stores and some farmers markets
Eligibility based on specific resource and income limitations
Provides free or low-cost medical benefits to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant folks, seniors, and folks with disabilities.
More information on specific qualifications
For further explanation of benefits including information on how to apply!
How do I choose a doctor?
Stack your team with people and providers you trust!
You deserve healthcare which makes you feel safe & supported.
Many factors contribute to a healthy pregnancy, but good prenatal care and a trusted healthcare provider can make all the difference!
Primary Care Physician: Your first step! PCPs will confirm the pregnancy and help you choose a specialist to monitor your pregnancy moving forward. Some family practice providers will work to provide prenatal care and attend pregnancies.
OB-GYN: Obstetrics deals specifically with pregnancy, while gynecology involves care to the entire reproductive system outside of pregnancy. OB-GYNs exclusively practice in hospital environments.
Midwife: Work similarly to an obstetrician, though outside of surgical environments and can be a great option for lower-risk pregnancies. Midwives assist in deliveries that happen in hospitals, homes, or birthing centers.
Doula: A doula works as a trained labor companion. While not trained healthcare professionals, they primarily work to offer emotional support throughout the pregnancy and work to advocate for your needs during birth. Doulas offer support and advice postpartum.
What is a birth plan and how do I develop mine?
No matter what decision you make regarding your pregnancy, you are not alone!
While birth plans are never set in stone and may need to be throughout delivered if complications arise, having a plan can help us feel more prepared moving into labor! Birth plans should be developed and shared with healthcare providers before the delivery date.
Birth plans may include information on:
medicated pain relief & other techniques
assisted delivery preferences
who will be in the room during childbirth
timeline for holding the baby
who will cut the umbilical cord
While birth plans are highly personal, attending childbirth classes, talking with family and friends who have experienced birthing, and discussing options with healthcare providers may all help you develop a plan that feels best for you.