Pregnant Student Goes Into Labor During Bar Exam, Finishes and Passes Exam

Think you had a harrowing time taking the bar exam? It probably can’t compare to Elana Nightingale Dawson’s experience. The 2011 Northwestern University Law School graduate sat for the Illinois bar in Chicago on July 27, and less than two hours after she finished gave birth to her first child, a boy who weighed in at 6.6 pounds.

This was Dawson’s first child, and she told the ABA Journal that it was not until Wednesday afternoon, while she was working through the bar exam’s multiple-choice section, that she realized something was going on. But, what, exactly, she was unsure of. Everyone told her the first labor takes a long time, and the only indication she had that things were moving quickly was that she didn’t think she could talk during contractions.

Not that she would have. Dawson, 29, stresses that she did not want to disturb the other test-takers.

“The hardest part was going through a contraction and not moving,” says Dawson.

“I just put my head in my hands and breathed,” says Dawson, whose cervix went from 3 centimeters to 6 centimeters in less than two hours. “Hopefully everyone else just thought I was having a really tough time concentrating.”

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