I gave birth 12 hours before my graduation ceremony

‘My friends kept telling me my waters would break on stage’

Most of us are just happy not to fall over on stage, but Georgia Hollis-Whitaker nailed graduation this year, walking in her ceremony just hours after she gave birth to baby daughter Olivia.

Georgia, a De Montfort Sociology grad, Georgia gave birth at 12.46am on Friday and was discharged at 6am. By that afternoon she was picking up her first class degree.

Georgia told The Tab: “When I first discovered I was pregnant in November I was really excited at the prospect of becoming a mum but I was also nervous about how the pregnancy would affect me during my third year. When I told my dad that I was pregnant he wasn’t best pleased initially because he thought it was going to jeopardise university.

“For my final year dissertation project I had already submitted an ethics application to conduct field research into ‘the relevance of football hooliganism in the 21st century’ which would mean interviewing football hooligans, I was initially refused ethical approval because of the risks involved but was later granted approval to do it. Throughout my final year I decided not to tell my lecturer’s or supervisor that I was pregnant because I was worried they wouldn’t allow me to conduct my research if they knew.

Georgia and Jamie with baby Olivia

Georgia says that despite her worries about being pregnant in final year, most people didn’t notice and only her close friends knew. She was even able to keep her part time job at a local children’s playground right up until two days before Olivia was born.

She said: “No-one at university noticed that I was pregnant, only my close friends on my course knew. I did suffer with morning sickness, which did mean that I missed most of the lectures on the social exclusion and health module, as that started at 9am, and they won’t let you in more than 10 minutes late, the problem was that that module was the one that I had an exam in so I learnt that module from blackboard slides.

“The main thing changed my experience at university I think is the social side, for example I couldn’t go out to celebrate things with other students on my course, like handing in our dissertation and last assignment and stuff like that.”

Despite missing out on the last of her student social life, Georgia explains that having Olivia, who was born 15 days early and weighed just 5lb 15oz made her more determined in her studies, and to attend her graduation ceremony no matter what. She says: “I thought I would be heavily pregnant going up to collect my degree, but was always planning to go.

“I was worried because my friends kept saying ‘oh imagine if your waters break when you’re on stage’ but as it happened, Olivia decided to make an appearance early enough to attend herself in person.

“I really didn’t want to miss it, no one in my family has ever attended university so graduating was a big deal for me, and graduating with a first is unbelievable for me. I really thought they had made some sort of mistake when I looked online on results day.”

Georgia was also awarded a prize from the sociology department for students who ‘showed outstanding dedication’ to their course.

Baby Olivia was even able to come along and attended Georgia’s graduation with dad Jamie, and Georgia says Jamie and the rest of her friends and family have been unbelievably supportive. She said: “They’re all really proud. During writing my dissertation when I was spending long hours in the library, my mum would make me really nice lunches for the day and Jamie, Olivia’s dad would pick me up from the library in the early hours of the morning, my dad would print my stuff at work to save me on print credits.

“My friends at uni have been great and they all couldn’t wait to meet Olivia. They couldn’t believe it when I told them she was at graduation, swaddled in a sling worn by my mum in the audience. Olivia was so good, she slept through the whole ceremony.”