Babies in Residency???

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    Did anyone around here have their child in residency? My maternal drive is soooooooo getting to me.


    I was pregnant right after residency, about one month into my fellowship. I had some friends who had a baby their last year in internal medicine residency (and one in her first year)– I think it is definitely doable as long as you try to do some planning. I found that working during pregancy wasn’t too bad- I think the overnight call would be worst with a newborn, so if you could plan that you would have a few easy months when you first come back- also, try to tak 3 months off, unless you really want to finish on time- What type of resiendy are you in?

    EM momEM mom

    I had my daughter during my general surgery residency-well, actually during my first year in the surgery lab (a very important distinction!)-I had done 2 years of clinical general surgery, had planned on doing a 2 year surgical onc research fellowship (I had planned this from the middle of first year, far before I became pregnant) and then finishing my residency (a common path to take when desiring a career in academics). I didn’t find being pregnant during clinical residency too bad, although trauma call was tough due to the all of the crazy patient and the amount of x-rays and fluoro necessary, not mention the intensity of the call. I was tired all of the time, but so were most of my non-pregnant colleagues so I couldn’t complain. I took q3 call until I was 8 months and then entered the lab. However, as my research fellowship is coming to an end and my daughter is going on 15 months, I just resigned and am trying to match in emergency medicine. I just don’t love surgery enough (in fact the OR bored me after I got over my initial awe of it) to give up everything else (including my daughter and control over my life!) I really love EM and I am already thrilled with my decision, even though I don’t have a job for sure next year (cross your fingers for me on Mar 18th!) I think having a child during residency is doable but you have to have a significant other (or some other source of support) that is 110% committed to the idea, because it is HARD. You also have to be willing to realize that you ARE going to miss a lot of things-both with your child and with your career and there will be a lot of compromises you will have to make that your colleagues will not (I did not truly appreciate this until AFTER my daughter was born). Having said all of that, my daughter is the absolute best thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t trade her for anything! Good luck with the decision!


    I think it depends on the structure of your program and the attitudes of your fellow residents and program director.

    I had 2 kids during my 5 yr. pathology residency, but the structure of my program and the support of those whom I worked with was key. I worked full-time during both pregnancies and tried to schedule the most physically demanding rotations during the early trimesters.

    I say go for it.


    If having a baby is important to you…I say go for it. The reason being, I have a *few* friends that I went to med school with that are in their very early 30s who are having great difficulty achieving pregnancy. It’s very frustrating to watch because these women are accustomed to being in control of every aspect of their lives…and planning everything down to the tee. And now that they are finished with residency…they cannot have babies. Was it worth it?

    *Personally* I would say not. I think that we professional women take it for granted that whenever we decide to stop the birth control, it’ll just happen. But sometimes it doesn’t. And as we tell ourselves we can have everything, we actually inadvertantly eliminate options by trying to make everything perfect. I’m not suggesting that everyone should have a kid at 18 to guarantee an experience of motherhood. But, rather, I want to emphasize the importance of *really* evaluating what’s important to you…and if babies rank high on the list, by waiting you may be jeopardizing a (significant) aspect of your life…and can you live with that? If yes…wait. If not…why chance it as we approach our early/mid 30s?


    Agree with Mya. I am a third year IM resident with a 7 month old; decided to try to get pregnant during residency for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the realization that fertility begins to decline at age 27 (!) and if I want two or three kids we’d be wise to get the show on the road. Of course, lots of people start their families older, but you do deal with the risk of infertility as well as the repercussions of aged oocytes. I just knew I would regret it forever if we had a complication like that because I didn’t want to deal with it while I was in training. That being said, my life has been very difficult, and that was despite having a relatively asymptomatic pregnancy, a very supportive cohort of co-residents, and a husband who was willing to quit his job to stay home with the baby. I don’t regret making that decision at all but for me it took some serious weighing of the risk-benefit ratio beforehand (as well as some other anal-retentive IM “let’s review the literature” kind of things like evaluating studies of complications of residents’ pregnancies, etc.).


    The only cure for baby fever is: baby! My husband & I are both 2nd year FP residents and (yes it sounds crazy, but intentionally) had a baby at the beginning of second year. You just have to do some planning–plan your rotations and maternity leave, think way ahead about childcare. We ended up hiring a nanny who comes to our house and stays overnight every once in a while if we’re both on call. We also have help from our parents who live nearby.

    We decided during intern year that no time would be the perfect time with both of us in medicine, and since we were both about to turn 30 we decided to go for it. Luckily we didn’t have any fertility issues with this one. All of my college roommates are on the hi-speed career path, intentionally delaying childbearing, and I hope they don’t have problems when they decide it’s time for kids and regret it. I don’t think you could ever regret something as wonderful as having a child, but you are more likely to regret putting it off, especially if your maternal drive is that strong.

    Good luck!


    I agree. I was pregnant for most of my internship at age 26, had my son 2 weeks after internship and took a year off at home, then did 3 years of residency with a toddler and had my second child at age 31. The big tradeoff has been money — we went into debt the first two years of residency to cover good childcare and only started to break even after my husband was an attending. We are still more indebted than our friends who waited to have kids, but we are also done having kids and didn’t have to deal with infertility issues or the pressure to get pregnant after 35, which many of my friends are currently dealing with. I still think the primary issue is childcare. My husband had to be the primary parent when my son was 1-3 while I had the more demanding clinical rotations of my residency. It worked for us, but I think you need to make plans about how you two will handle that. Also, really plan ahead for sick child care. That is the bugaboo for resident parents, in my experience. Actually, it’s still the most stressful thing for me as a working mom. Good luck!


    I had my first during my intern year and my second during my third year of residency. It was hard. But boy were those two guys worth it. I wouldnt have done it differently.


    Hi Ellie!

    Great topic. My husband and I discuss this several times a week, and always decide to postpone until after residency. He is afraid that he will end up with all of the responsibility because of my ridiculous schedule. It is certainly a legitimate concern; he does the lion’s share of washing dishes and dog walking. We share other responsibilities (grocery shopping, laundry) and some chores are mine (bills). His “rule” is that if we have children I have to be able to contribute half of the parenting.

    Another thing my husband worries about are the physical effects of residency stress on a fetus. Does anyone know of any worthwhile studies on the topic?

    One of my big fears about having children now is that I will lose all focus on my job. I’m already pretty focused on my home life and miss my husband and dog so much while I’m at work. I wonder if it’s fair to my patients to be so distracted. I guess that’s what differentiates this job from most others… I don’t feel like I deserve to have the home life I want.

    Sorry to vent. I loved reading the responses from the residency Moms above, and I’m going to show them to my husband. You guys are awesome.



    One of my big fears about having children now is that I will lose all focus on my job. I’m already pretty focused on my home life and miss my husband and dog so much while I’m at work. I wonder if it’s fair to my patients to be so distracted.

    One day…(I’m guessing) you’ll have children. This concern will not change if you have them now or later.

    His “rule” is that if we have children I have to be able to contribute half of the parenting.

    How would your husband feel if you guys were not able to *ever* have children…because you waited?….because he didn’t want to do more than 50% for a year or two? How would *you* feel? Marriage is not 50/50, it’s 100/100…

    …maybe with the next child you’ll stay home and he’ll work. Maybe if he finds himself unable to work for whatever reason, you’ll do more than “50%” because that’s what married couples do. Maybe if he “has your back” now and steps it up a notch with this child…when he’s old and needs his meals cooked…you’ll “have his back” and see to it that he eats…this is what married couples do…it’s not 50/50… both are giving 100%, 100% of the time.

    Another thing my husband worries about are the physical effects of residency stress on a fetus.

    They are probably the same effects that occur with *any* working pregnant physician…at *any* stage in her training. And even if not…what about the (well studied) effects of advanced maternal age on the fetus?

    I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. We can all come up with excuses (reasons) to postpone the things we want to do…for a “better/perfect” time…but I argue, the things that are important to you, you have to make a priority. It never (ever) seems like a *perfect* time to have kids…ever!! Not when you’re a med student, not as a resident, not as a fellow, not as a new attending, not as a medical director…not while trying to establish your private practice…not while you’re trying to advance in your specialty…not ever. Maybe once you’re 45 years old, and are comfortable financially, career-wise, etc…but then it’s too late.

    And men don’t seem to *really* appreciate this…until they’re paying 10-12,000 dollars a cycle for IVF….


    I have been a bit hesitant to post here because I think you really want to hear only positives to early childbearing, but I think you should have a chance to hear the other side. I have posted in other threads that we waited until I was out of residency several years to have children, so I was 32 when first pregnant. I don’t want to be negative about others’ choices (and of course once a child is in the world you can’t ever regret them!!!!!) but I am SO GLAD we waited!!!! I have found it exhausting to have kids as an established attending. I constantly struggle with how much to be with my family vs. work, feel like time is too short, etc. When I look back on residency, it was a tremendous boon to just have to care for myself. I am sure you can manage with kids in residency, but it is totally overwhelming. Just speaking to the logistics, a number of residents over the years (and me with my second preganancy) have had to go out unexpectedly on preterm labor. One of them had to sue the AAFP to be able to finish her residency reasonably because she was out so long. If you are young enough that you are not pushing infertility too hard, then I would say waiting will help you be a better resident and a better mother because you will have more time for each. Each of these endeavors is very challenging and very time consuming. That said, good luck with whatever you choose!!


    I am wondering if you think that maybe you perceive it as hard BECAUSE you waited. Sometimes, if it’s all you’ve ever known, it’s just life, you know? For example, and I can’t speak to residency yet, a lot of my classmates are just totally amazed and astounded that I am going to med school and having kid(s). I am sure that is true for many of you. 😉 For me, that is just how it is, so I go with it. I guess what I am saying is that I always figure you can do just exactly as much as you decide you can do. :yes:

    I also want to add that at my particular institution, MANY residents have kids, I would guess 1/3- 1/2, so it is not a big deal. That is probably something to consider as well… how would you fit in as a mommy?

    Anyone else have their first in residency? I would like to have my third (oh my! :yikes: ) in my second or third year, depending on my husband and whether he takes a research year and when.

    EM momEM mom

    FPMommy is 100% right! It is often hard during residency to take care of a house plant let alone a child! I went several days at a time without seeing my husband and even when I was home I was sleeping. (This was the same for my family practice friends, this was NOT specific to surgery). You CAN do kids during residency (and even SHOULD if you are at an age where fertility may begin to be an issue), but make sure you have a very strong support system, because there will be days when you just won’t be able to do it, you absolutely cannot be two places at once, and you will need help.

    It’s also true, after having my daughter I can not imagine it any other way, and yes, you do “just do it” without really thinking about it, but it is much harder and you will feel torn between your two roles (Just read Erin’s diary to get a taste…). Residency is like nothing else you have ever experienced and although getting better with the 80 hour work week, it still has a long way to go to be considered “humane”.

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