Motherhood and Medicine: Having a Baby in Residency Shouldn’t Be This Hard

Peak years of fertility and childbearing happen right smack dab in the middle of medical training. Perfect storm.

I personally wrestled with the question of  “should I get pregnant now or risk waiting?” I got many, “Well, there’s never a good time.” And even being part of a mostly supportive family medicine residency, pregnancy and post-partum times were by no means a walk in the park.

Having had my first child 4 months into my intern year, yes, I knew things were going to be tough. Real tough. I didn’t have the protection of FMLA because I hadn’t worked a full year at that employer, my residency didn’t really have a policy for first years having baby and I was facing repeating my entire intern year again if “I took too long to come back.” I remember stewing over, “if I get an induction by ___, then I could get back in time. But if I got past ___, I’m screwed.” Talk about stress!

I got lucky (or perhaps you could say I fit the trend of pregnancy complications in residents) and delivered early.

But trying to time out a delivery, postpartum period, my clinical rotation schedule and the overall residency call schedule was close to an act of God and it shouldn’t be. Women have babies, women also have residency jobs. I applaud the AOA House of Delegates for passing a resolution calling for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to adopt a standardized parental leave policy for medical residents. About damn time! Read more about that HERE

When we stop pretending that life stops during residency and start expanding possibilities for all life choices, I believe this will drastically improve this aspect of resident and early practice physician well being. 

PS: Hey, to those colleagues I worked with while being huge pregnant and who covered while I was out, I truly appreciate you! (Another reason to get program requirements changed, so all can flourish)  

PSS: Next we need to talk about the health of mothers in residency (ie being a breastfeeding advocate but unable to feed her own child, having poor pregnancy and delivery outcomes from age related peers and increased levels of poor mental health) but I’ll save that for another time.

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Errin Weisman DO

Errin Weisman, DO is the self-proclaimed wellness guru on Authentic Medicine. She is a life coach, podcaster and fierce advocate for wellness in medicine. She faced professional burnout early in her career and speaks openly about her story in order to help others, particularly female physicians and working moms, know they are not alone. Dr. Weisman wholeheartedly believes to be a healer, you must first fill your own cup. She lives and practices life coaching and medicine in rural Southwestern Indiana, loves her roles as farmer’s wife, athlete and mother of three.You can find out more about Dr. Weisman on her podcast Doctor Me First, her website or hang out with her on social media @truthrxs. Her podcast is “Doctor Me First”. 

  3 comments for “Motherhood and Medicine: Having a Baby in Residency Shouldn’t Be This Hard

  1. Rando
    October 5, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Yes, it should be hard. Being a resident is hard, having a baby is hard, covering for people who are off having children is hard. It’s all hard. What this resolution does is makes it less hard for the Mom and harder for everyone else in the program.

  2. Thomas David Guastavino
    October 1, 2019 at 8:24 am

    So….if a woman takes off during residency to have children give the same time off for all residents. Of course, thats means the residency will likely be perpetually one person short so each program will have to have at least 1-2 more residents.
    Let’s see if the government is willing to pay for this.

    • Pat
      October 1, 2019 at 9:46 am

      This is why the FMLA should never have been passed, and ought to be abolished. It should be up to each individual, business, corporation, or concern to make the arrangements that suit them best. Government has no business being “family friendly,” any more than it does being anti-family.

      Programs such as these are subtle ways of picking another’s pocket.

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