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Best time for female med students to have children?

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If you're having kids, it wouldn't make financial sense to do anything other than family medicine, given the amount of time you'll be taking off work.

 

If you're doing FM, just wait 6 years.

 

There really is no good time during medical school or residency to have kids. But if you can't delay the gratification of self-affirmation and proving your femininity by having kids any longer, I suggest between medical school and residency. Don't apply to CaRMs, take 5 years off to spawn your little minions, then apply for the 2026 match. Apparently FM is the salvation army of medicine.

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Obviously I could change my mind, but I don't intend to take a long time off when I have children. Maybe up to 6 months and then return to working part time at least.

 

I just don't see myself as a person who could NOT work.

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There's really no good time in life to have a baby. There will always be something else to be doing. But there are better or worse times and you just need to figure out when those are based on your circumstances.

 

Whatever you choose, you can't look back. You may choose to delay, and find out mother nature isn't working on your schedule. You could run into difficulties with conceiving, miscarriages, infertility etc. That can happen when you are in your 20s or 30s. But you may have more time to deal with things when you are in your 20s. And in your 20s nobody blames you for waiting. In your 30s people will ask why you waited "so long". Although, there's really no way to know if you would have been successful if you started trying earlier.

 

Anyway, as long as you can be content with possible outcomes with delaying etc. Then delay all you want. There are more ways to build a family then having biological children.

But if having biological children is really important to you, then I say - just do it when you feel ready. Med school isn't going anywhere and neither is residency in the time you'll be taking off.

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There's really no good time in life to have a baby. There will always be something else to be doing. But there are better or worse times and you just need to figure out when those are based on your circumstances.

 

Whatever you choose, you can't look back. You may choose to delay, and find out mother nature isn't working on your schedule. You could run into difficulties with conceiving, miscarriages, infertility etc. That can happen when you are in your 20s or 30s. But you may have more time to deal with things when you are in your 20s. And in your 20s nobody blames you for waiting. In your 30s people will ask why you waited "so long". Although, there's really no way to know if you would have been successful if you started trying earlier.

 

Anyway, as long as you can be content with possible outcomes with delaying etc. Then delay all you want. There are more ways to build a family then having biological children.

But if having biological children is really important to you, then I say - just do it when you feel ready. Med school isn't going anywhere and neither is residency in the time you'll be taking off.

 

Really excellent advice :)

 

This conversation comes up fairly often, and I hear of it fairly regularly since I'm one of the rare ones with children during med school. Granted, I admittedly have less constraints being the father rather than the mother. No matter what I have accomplished, or will accomplish, med school or beyond I have not and will not do anything more meaningful than having my children. Kids are what truly make life meaningful :)

 

As Satsuma says, there will never be a "right" time to have children. There will always be school, residency, work, and then there's factoring in your partner's situation as well. If you're with the right person, and you're thinking about it, maybe its time to take the jump. Believe me, you figure out how to make it work and its the most meaningful thing you will ever do.

 

Interesting Ted Talk that contains many relevant points to this conversation:

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As Satsuma says, there will never be a "right" time to have children.

Very true. Today's women have to choose between career and children. There's no way around it.

 

If you spawn children before you start your career, you'll never reach success. It is like trying to win a race wearing concrete shoes - your kids being the concrete shoes. Why do you think most teen moms never become anything?

 

If you spawn them after you establish your career, you'll be too old and face social stigmas/birth defects, and will risk losing what you've worked for.

 

But the question is, why would you even want to have both children and a career? OP needs to honestly ask herself this question. Why be a half-ass mom and a half-ass doctor? Why can't you commit to any one thing?

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I don't think women should have to choose between a career and a family. My mother had both.

 

The key is to have family members who can help out and take care of the kids when they are young. If not family, then nannies, daycares, etc.

 

I myself plan to have children early and have them raised by family while I am starting up my career. This, in my opinion, is the best route to take because then you get a career and you also get to have kids at a younger age and not worry about birth defects as much, etc.

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I don't see why women and men have to be much different in this regard. Nobody accuses a man of being a half ass father if he goes to work every day.

 

Clearly if you choose to have children someone has to take primary care of them during the day. I just don't see why it should be me because I lack a Y chromosome.

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From reading, it seems residency is quite a popular time because of the leave, and while I'm not yet a med student, I can comment on the importance of that.

 

If residency is when you can take leave, do it. I cannot stress how important that time is. When tiny babies get sick, they are a LOT harder to take care of than sick older babies. I would not have wanted to be working or studying when dealing with my daughter's recurrent ear infections. She would go days without sleeping more than twenty minutes. I was a zombie. She mostly grew out of that by a year and for the most part is easier to deal with when she is sick now. My son had reflux and it took us a few months to get that worked out. Trust me, infants with reflux can and will drive you up the freaking wall. Again, he mostly grew out of it by a year.

 

Leave and flexibility are also important if you have difficulties with your pregnancy. You don't want to risk preterm labour costing you an academic year, or leaving your patients stranded because you're suddenly on bed rest or at the hospital with a micro preemie.

 

All that said, you never know what life will throw at you and whether planning will equal reality. Took us two years and three losses to conceive our second (we also lost her twin) and I am quite young. Finding out at 22 that I'd likely need specialist assistance to have any more children really kind of sucked, and it proved true.

 

So, if you do decide to wait, talk to your gyn. I know way, way too many women who waited until their careers were established only to find that even cycle after cycle of IVF couldn't help them achieve a healthy pregnancy. There were steps some could have taken to help protect their fertility (sometimes as simple as taking BCPs) but because they weren't planning to have kids until later, they didn't talk to their doctors about it. As dumb as it may sound, your fertility is part of your overall health and if you want to have kids it is incredibly important to be proactive about protecting it.

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Hi AtomSmasher19,

 

I appreciate your thoughts but I don't entirely agree with what you're saying. Why would I have to commit solely to one thing? So you're saying that women who intend on having children have no place in medicine (or in the workplace for that matter)? I know plenty of women who are successful doctors and happy mothers all at the same time. Obviously, there are obstacles that would have to be dealt with such as finding a primary caretaker (whether that be a nanny, my husband, parents, etc.). But I don't believe a woman should be faced with this ultimatum that you're suggesting.

 

Very true. Today's women have to choose between career and children. There's no way around it.

 

If you spawn children before you start your career, you'll never reach success. It is like trying to win a race wearing concrete shoes - your kids being the concrete shoes. Why do you think most teen moms never become anything?

 

If you spawn them after you establish your career, you'll be too old and face social stigmas/birth defects, and will risk losing what you've worked for.

 

But the question is, why would you even want to have both children and a career? OP needs to honestly ask herself this question. Why be a half-ass mom and a half-ass doctor? Why can't you commit to any one thing?

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Hi AtomSmasher19,

 

I appreciate your thoughts but I don't entirely agree with what you're saying. Why would I have to commit solely to one thing? So you're saying that women who intend on having children have no place in medicine (or in the workplace for that matter)? I know plenty of women who are successful doctors and happy mothers all at the same time. Obviously, there are obstacles that would have to be dealt with such as finding a primary caretaker (whether that be a nanny, my husband, parents, etc.). But I don't believe a woman should be faced with this ultimatum that you're suggesting.

 

Just ignore this neanderthal. If only his own mother had the good fortune to.be blessed with his wisdom we wouldn't be reading his drivel and the world would be a nicer place because if it :)

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Very true. Today's women have to choose between career and children. There's no way around it.

 

If you spawn children before you start your career, you'll never reach success. It is like trying to win a race wearing concrete shoes - your kids being the concrete shoes. Why do you think most teen moms never become anything?

 

 

 

Both men and women consistently have to choose between career and family. It has historically been socially acceptable for the men to ignore family. That is no longer the case.

 

A girl I know had a baby in high school and now she's a neurologist.

 

Teen mom's these days have access to more supports, and often their own families help them. This is different then the past, when a teen mom was stigmatized and often abandoned by their families. A teen who has their supports withdrawn (emotional, financial) is going to have a hard time succeeding in life, whether they had a baby or not. Further, teens have more choices regarding options if they find themselves pregnant. If they truly don't feel ready or supported, they aren't forced to be a mom when they aren't prepared.

 

Society has evolved, maybe you should too.

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Both men and women consistently have to choose between career and family. It has historically been socially acceptable for the men to ignore family. That is no longer the case.

 

A girl I know had a baby in high school and now she's a neurologist.

 

Teen mom's these days have access to more supports, and often their own families help them. This is different then the past, when a teen mom was stigmatized and often abandoned by their families. A teen who has their supports withdrawn (emotional, financial) is going to have a hard time succeeding in life, whether they had a baby or not. Further, teens have more choices regarding options if they find themselves pregnant. If they truly don't feel ready or supported, they aren't forced to be a mom when they aren't prepared.

 

Society has evolved, maybe you should too.

 

^+1

 

I think that the OP has posed a fairly difficult question and the variety of answers is also reflective of where different individuals are in their lives.

 

The short answer would be to say whenever you're ready. Some points in your life are going to be more difficult than others.

 

However, having children by no means makes you a "half-assed physician"...I was very disappointed to see that comment, but to each their own; to be honest, the amount of patience and self-sacrifice involved with having children will only increase your soft-skills and understanding of others because let's face it; we all came from a mother.

 

There are tons of successful female physicians, who have moved up significantly in the medical field and have had children. Also, thanks to technology there are many alternatives.

 

I think people need to stop and reflect that the only person setting time lines is yourself. Yes our biological time-lines suggest before 40, but the option to freeze eggs is also available. And right now, I'm guessing that means you still have roughly the next 10-15 years to decide. But financially speaking, during residency does seem to be the best option :D (but it most certainly has been done outside of this time-frame).

 

For the long answer, we could talk for hours on. I think it's best to seek out physicians who have done it and learn from their experiences. With our evolving society any burdens of parenting are no longer solely on the mother (as many other individuals have previously stated). Mat and now Pat leave are there for a reason.

 

The choice and time will ultimately come when things feel most right for you and your situation. The great thing about life is that we customize it all on our own and follow our own paths. Just march to the beat of your own drum and when time comes, you'll know where you're at and where you are going and everything else will fall into place.

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Atomsmasher really does not even deserve a response to his trolling but has clearly taken what I said out of context. There is no "right" time for men or women to have children as far as I'm concerned- there will always be something that could be argued to take precedent. Really though, when you have children, they become first priority and as such the first real step to having kids is pushing aside the reasons you have for waiting and jumping into it. Whether its during med school, residency, or during practice- I'd argue the more important factor is having a supportive partner rather than which stage you're going to take the plunge at because its going to be tough no matter what the time is. That said, parenting is the toughest and yet most rewarding job in the entire world.

 

I'd encourage anyone having a tough time thinking about major life events like this to take advantage of the support network at your school. I know this is a topic discussed at several wellness sessions at Queen's (Women in Medicine interest group, first year session on relationships in medicine, etc). Career counselors and wellness advisers are also great resources as well as anyone who you consider a mentor- they probably had the same thoughts and concerns at some point :).

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I think whenever you have enough support around you to make having children manageable is the right time. That involves the state of your relationship, your finances, your time constraints and your extended support system. Residency seems to make sense in terms of money and time, but that doesn't take the other considerations out of play.

 

I had a classmate who had her kid during one of our more difficult semesters. She worked her butt off to get ahead of things before she gave birth, took only two weeks off, and then worked her butt off again to catch up. She was nothing short of incredible. It was probably the worst time to have a child, but she had a lot of family support and did what she had to in order to make it work.

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I think pretty much every parent makes it work. I live half-time with my sister who has 3 under the age of 5, and we make it work too. Even though she's home FT there are still things to juggle. She relies on her husband, me and our other family members to get the kids to their various appointments.

 

If any women are thinking of egg freezing, do it sooner rather than later. You can't always know if you will experience premature ovarian failure, and there's just a better result to do it sooner. It has only been recently that you could even do it, for a long time you pretty much had to make them into embryos first.

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From reading, it seems residency is quite a popular time because of the leave, and while I'm not yet a med student, I can comment on the importance of that.

 

If residency is when you can take leave, do it. I cannot stress how important that time is. When tiny babies get sick, they are a LOT harder to take care of than sick older babies. I would not have wanted to be working or studying when dealing with my daughter's recurrent ear infections. She would go days without sleeping more than twenty minutes. I was a zombie. She mostly grew out of that by a year and for the most part is easier to deal with when she is sick now. My son had reflux and it took us a few months to get that worked out. Trust me, infants with reflux can and will drive you up the freaking wall. Again, he mostly grew out of it by a year.

 

Leave and flexibility are also important if you have difficulties with your pregnancy. You don't want to risk preterm labour costing you an academic year, or leaving your patients stranded because you're suddenly on bed rest or at the hospital with a micro preemie.

 

All that said, you never know what life will throw at you and whether planning will equal reality. Took us two years and three losses to conceive our second (we also lost her twin) and I am quite young. Finding out at 22 that I'd likely need specialist assistance to have any more children really kind of sucked, and it proved true.

 

So, if you do decide to wait, talk to your gyn. I know way, way too many women who waited until their careers were established only to find that even cycle after cycle of IVF couldn't help them achieve a healthy pregnancy. There were steps some could have taken to help protect their fertility (sometimes as simple as taking BCPs) but because they weren't planning to have kids until later, they didn't talk to their doctors about it. As dumb as it may sound, your fertility is part of your overall health and if you want to have kids it is incredibly important to be proactive about protecting it.

 

Thanks for your insight, Birdy. I'm female, 26, and starting med at Mac in the fall, and this question has been on my mind since my BF doesn't want to wait until our mid-thirties to have kids. This reaffirms my decision that I'm going to wait for residency (the plan is to get married shortly after I finish, and I'd like to be married for a year or two before kids, as well). There's really no good time, I'm sure, but you're right, you don't know what will happen and the leave is a hugely important factor. :)

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Maybe up to 6 months and then return to working part time at least...I just don't see myself as a person who could NOT work.

 

Clearly if you choose to have children someone has to take primary care of them during the day. I just don't see why it should be me because I lack a Y chromosome.

 

Preach! I don't consider myself on the "mommy track" just because I want to have kids.

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Both men and women consistently have to choose between career and family. It has historically been socially acceptable for the men to ignore family. That is no longer the case.

 

A girl I know had a baby in high school and now she's a neurologist.

 

Teen mom's these days have access to more supports, and often their own families help them. This is different then the past, when a teen mom was stigmatized and often abandoned by their families. A teen who has their supports withdrawn (emotional, financial) is going to have a hard time succeeding in life, whether they had a baby or not. Further, teens have more choices regarding options if they find themselves pregnant. If they truly don't feel ready or supported, they aren't forced to be a mom when they aren't prepared.

 

Society has evolved, maybe you should too.

 

You know a teen mom who's now a neurologist? I know 100000 teen moms on welfare.

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You know a teen mom who's now a neurologist? I know 100000 teen moms on welfare.

 

Comments like this make me so happy.

 

People always point out the one outlier in a situation and then generalize it for the whole population while ignoring the whole population.

I know a lot of girls who had kids while we were in high school, not a single one of them made it to university.

The girls I know that had kids in university all dropped out to support the kids.

 

Clearly this "support" isnt universal

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Comments like this make me so happy.

 

People always point out the one outlier in a situation and then generalize it for the whole population while ignoring the whole population.

I know a lot of girls who had kids while we were in high school, not a single one of them made it to university.

The girls I know that had kids in university all dropped out to support the kids.

 

Clearly this "support" isnt universal

 

I never claimed this example to be generalizable to the entire population of teens who get pregnant.

 

It was a contrast to statement made "If you spawn children before you start your career, you'll never reach success". And although that statement was clearly a false generalization, I guess you had no issue with that.

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I never claimed this example to be generalizable to the entire population of teens who get pregnant.

 

It was a contrast to statement made "If you spawn children before you start your career, you'll never reach success". And although that statement was clearly a false generalization, I guess you had no issue with that.

 

No, that's a straw man argument. I never said that. I said that women have to choose between career or kids, with the implication being that the one you don't pick won't be able to be accomplished to your satisfaction.

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I never claimed this example to be generalizable to the entire population of teens who get pregnant.

 

It was a contrast to statement made "If you spawn children before you start your career, you'll never reach success". And although that statement was clearly a false generalization, I guess you had no issue with that.

 

Didnt see that comment, and of course it is false. Your neurologist proves that.

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