When to Have a Baby During Your Medical Career?
Members from the MomMD Forum share their answers to “When is the right time to start a family? What will happen to my career?”
“My career as a pediatrician is going well, I have a home and a loving partner. I really want to have children but I just don’t know (career-wise) when is a good time. I have been working in a hospital for 3 years since completing my residency. Will my career take a setback?” MT – Cocoa Beach, FL
“I am also a pediatrician. I became pregnant with my first child at the end of my residency and delivered during a one year ambulatory fellowship. I took 6 months off and then went back part-time (3 days/week) for the next 5 years as an Asst. Clin. Prof. at a university hospital in the northeast. I really felt I had the best of both worlds. Of course I had a very supportive husband, who had a relatively flexible schedule. I had my second child 5 1/2 years later, also took off 6 months and then went into private practice. I am a full partner but found a practice that values time-off and family life. Also the practice is 2 miles from my home. I have a wonderful full-time live-out nanny and a husband who does not travel.” – JS, New Jersey
“There is no right time to start a family. I have a 20 month old daughter and my OB/GYN asked me at my last visit if I was planning any more children. My reply was, ‘Not any time soon!’ Her advice, and I truly believe it, is there is no right time to have a baby, but if you feel this is the worst time to have a baby then wait. If you want to continue your job and have a family, the thing you really need more than anything else is help. You need to have good childcare and good back up if your child gets sick. No one ever imagines how much a child will change their life, and if you can prepare for some of the difficulties then you are way ahead. It is possible to balance being a mother and a doctor, and to be good at both”. – AC
“None of us has all the answers to parenting and being a physician. However, as the mother of two, I wouldn’t trade my career or my family for any other. I have been in practice in a University setting for 12 years, and find that more and more it is becoming acceptable to be a mom and a doc. Go for it!” – DM
“There is never a good time. You have to make the time. Just make sure before you get pregnant that you have good childcare available. There can be long waiting lists for good childcare. I had my first child after internship, during a period of 3 years I had taken time off from residency to accompany my husband in his pursuits. When I started back to residency, my son was 19 months ago (a very difficult age to suddenly start attending childcare!). My second child was born during my third year as an employee of a group practice. However, patient referrals decreased after my return from maternity leave. A year later I changed jobs, due to a change in priorities (family first) and was lucky enough to find a part-time job. Childcare difficulties can be overwhelming if you do not have a good support system. If you don’t have relatives in the area who can help, you need good childcare. Many physicians hire nannies. I was lucky enough to find a hospital-based childcare with extended hours and a very stable staff. So plan ahead and make reservations for childcare the day after you conceive!” – AA