Pregnancy affects every aspect of a woman’s life, including her job. When the expectant mother is also the boss, pregnancy can impact her performance, her clientele, and her bottom line. Entrepreneur magazine recently published advice from two female entrepreneurs who experienced different pregnancy concerns and run two entirely different businesses.
Darla DeMorrow’s pregnancy was met with mixed emotions - good for me, maybe not so good for the business. DeMorrow is a professional organizer and decorator based in New Jersey. She published a book, "The Pregnant Entrepreneur, in 2011." Rebecca Rescate owns CitiKitty, a kit-based system that trains cats to use the toilet instead of the litter box.
Establish the Business First
DeMorrow worked the business three years before her pregnancy and had a well-developed clientele. A three-month maternity leave had little effect on her long-term business projections.
Rescate’s business was only three months old when she became pregnant, too soon to take extended leave. She worked till the contractions started and was back at it again a few days after delivery. Now that CitiKitty has gained its own maturity, Rescate says she’d take more time off for the next pregnancy.
Flexibility is Important
Business can be unpredictable, especially at first. So can a pregnancy. DeMorrow describes her pregnancy as perfect, with little more than occasional morning sickness to slow her down. Rescate suffered from nausea and exhaustion to the point where her work schedule needed to be reworked to accommodate the pregnancy.
Value the Fourth Trimester
DeMorrow considers the first few months after delivery the fourth trimester. Newborns require a great deal of hands-on care so it was important to her to schedule work around the baby’s schedule, working early in the mornings, through nap time, and after baby’s bedtime so she could devote her time to the baby when it was awake. She recommends gradually adjusting one’s work schedule before delivery so vendors, employees, and clients can adjust to a new mother’s post-delivery work schedule.
The Disclosure Dilemma
Pregnancy announcements are usually joyous events but some strategy is involved when the mom-to-be is the boss. DeMorrow’s work involves enough physical activity that she wanted to keep her pregnancy a secret as long as she could so as to avoid any losses of business from clients who might think her pregnancy would interfere with her performance.
Rescate didn’t delay the announcement, saying "If clients, employees, and vendors can't accept your pregnancy, a condition that only lasts nine months, how will they accept you having an infant, a toddler and a grade-schooler?" She embraced pregnancy with enthusiasm to demonstrate her ability to continue business as usual even while bringing a new life into the world.
Working mothers who don’t own businesses can learn from the experiences of these ladies. Every new mother will need to reveal her pregnancy to the boss, coworkers, and perhaps clients and will need to alter her schedule and work duties accordingly. The nature of one’s business, the job responsibilities assigned, and the pregnancy itself should be taken into consideration to make the transition into parenthood as smooth and productive as possible for all.
Source: Evans, Lisa. "How to Manage a Pregnancy and a Business." Entrepreneur. 11 Oct 2013. Web. 4 Nov 2013.