Starting PhD with maternity leave plans

posted
25-Aug-17, 09:29
Avatar for Longstitch
posted about 2 years ago
Hello,

I have been offered a funded PhD studentship due to start in October. It's an amazing opportunity and although I'm feeling nervous I can see how this could be a tremendous experience.

Before applying for this studentship my boyfriend (of 10 years) and I decided to start trying for our first baby soon. I'm 33. I was not expecting my PhD application to be successful and felt I couldn't turn the chance down. However I don't want to wait 3 years to complete study and then start trying. I'm getting worried about how the next few years will work out.

The PhD is history/archive based research. I've read a lot of forum posts about the challenges of maternity leave and lab-based PhDs, but what about PhDs where time might be more flexible? Can it work? Am I letting myself in for a world of stress? Or could the flexibility of the PhD work in my favour?

The research organisation offers funded maternity leave for 6 months at the full rate and a further 13 weeks at approx half the rate, which I think is generous.

I feel uncomfortable having accepted the PhD offer knowing there's a strong chance I'll need to take maternity leave sometime during it. But waiting until I'm finished isn't a good option.

Looking for any advice or similar experiences!
posted
25-Aug-17, 11:51
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 2 years ago
A PhD student I know delivered her baby 10 months into her PhD, then took a 6 month maternity leave. She only told the supervisor after she was 5 months pregnant. She came back and continued her PhD later. Hers was also a lab-based PhD. She seems ok now. So.... I guess, it all depends on you and your supervisor?
posted
26-Aug-17, 13:34
Avatar for PracticalMouse
posted about 2 years ago
I got pregnant about 10 months into my funded PhD. It worked out great - because my husband took on a massive amount of childcare after my maternity leave finished to give me the space to complete. I submitted on time, and now don't have to worry about being an 'old' mother and can look for jobs without thinking about when to get pregnant. However I do think if you want a career in academia, more than one is madness. I literally do not know a single woman with more than one child who has been able to make that work (unless her husband is a stay-at-home full-time dad).

Make sure before you embark on this route that your husband is totally committed too...you will need his support.
posted
28-Aug-17, 08:27
by Coarvi
Avatar for Coarvi
posted about 2 years ago
Most of my (current and previous) female PhD-colleagues have had at least one baby during their PhD, including myself. It's not a problem at all, the flexibility of a PhD is great when having children.
posted
28-Aug-17, 16:14
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From PracticalMouse:
I got pregnant about 10 months into my funded PhD. It worked out great - because my husband took on a massive amount of childcare after my maternity leave finished to give me the space to complete. I submitted on time, and now don't have to worry about being an 'old' mother and can look for jobs without thinking about when to get pregnant. However I do think if you want a career in academia, more than one is madness. I literally do not know a single woman with more than one child who has been able to make that work (unless her husband is a stay-at-home full-time dad).

Make sure before you embark on this route that your husband is totally committed too...you will need his support.


I worked with a woman with 2 kids who said she was essentially earning nothing because her entire wage was being eaten up in childcare.

I couldn't understand why they considered that money as coming from her salary and not jointly split between her and her husband.

In a surprising number of families, both the "partners" consider their earnings to be their own. Each to their own I suppose but in my house everything both of us earns goes into a single pot.

Therefore, when two amounts of childcare need to be paid for it is not my wife who is essentially paying "her whole salary" to pay for all this - the childcare is coming from the joint pot.

This is important because many women stop working because they think it isn't financially worth it. But you need to factor in whether a 3 to 5 year gap in your CV is going to be a problem. A continuous CV, in my opinion, has a financial value to it in itself.

Of course, childcare is expensive but it doesn't last forever. Once the kids are in school it largely stops.

Obviously some women (and some men too actually) prefer to stay at home for a few years looking after the kids, in which case that is fine.
posted
28-Aug-17, 16:16
edited about 4 seconds later
Avatar for cloudofash
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From PracticalMouse:
I got pregnant about 10 months into my funded PhD. It worked out great - because my husband took on a massive amount of childcare after my maternity leave finished to give me the space to complete. I submitted on time, and now don't have to worry about being an 'old' mother and can look for jobs without thinking about when to get pregnant. However I do think if you want a career in academia, more than one is madness. I literally do not know a single woman with more than one child who has been able to make that work (unless her husband is a stay-at-home full-time dad).

Make sure before you embark on this route that your husband is totally committed too...you will need his support.

I know several actually and in one case, the husband is also a researcher with his own lab.
posted
30-Aug-17, 09:13
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
I know several lab-based PhD students who have had kids during their PhD. Honestly? I don't think they knew what they were letting themselves in for. Their kids suffered from their absence and their PhD suffered (according to them).

But, at the end of the day, you're 33 so can't afford to wait too long, so I guess your options are more restricted. It's possible, so if I were you I would give both a go, maybe wait a year or two to start trying so you will have done most of the work by the time baby arrives.

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