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Even in the midst of the morning (read: all day) sickness, the aching, swollen limbs, and the constant fatigue, I never felt more capable — more like a force of nature — than when I was pregnant. While my body threw me a few curveballs. Getting used to sharing my body with another human being took a minute. The loss of complete bodily autonomy that comes with that took a minute. But still, I felt connected to myself in ways I had never experienced before. My foray into motherhood left me feeling so in tune with my physical form and the way it moved — the way it expanded and contracted, grew stronger as it softened — there were moments when I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer endurance of my body.
Experiencing pregnancy made me stronger, in both body and mind, but I didn’t realize how that strength would eventually help me in the areas of my life that had nothing to do with motherhood. Sure, getting used to pushing through the exhaustion of the first trimester would help me navigate sleepless nights, and setting boundaries with strangers hellbent on touching my pregnant belly in the grocery store would help me set boundaries with my toddler when I was feeling touched out, but these situations would help me as a self-employed businesswoman, too. In growing as a mother, I was growing as an entrepreneur, too.
No two people experience pregnancy in exactly the same way, meaning the ways in which pregnancy makes someone stronger are bound to be personal and unique, too. And of course, there are moments when you’re gestating — especially if you’re experiencing complications — that don’t leave you feeling particularly strong at all. But even in moments of difficulty our bodies and minds are showing up for us, and arming us with experiences and lessons that will help us show up for yourself as a business owner and beyond.
1. You know how to adapt at a moment’s notice
That moment when your soon-to-be breastfeeding breasts started leaking through your shirt two weeks before your due date? You rolled with that like it was nothing. So a client asking for a complete pivot on a deliverable mere hours before you’re scheduled to present is a walk in the park to you at this point.
Pregnant bodies are known to pull anything at any time. So when you have to adapt in order to make your business work, you can look back on all the ways you adapted, persevered, and overcame in pregnancy and tell yourself, “Yeah, I got this.”
2. You can imagine — and plan for — any number of possibilities
It’s an understatement to say that moms are prepared for any possible scenario. Who among us hasn’t been caught empty-handed on a “quick errand,” holding a poop-covered kid who just had to have a blowout on the one day we didn’t bring the damn diaper bag? And pregnancy is where this skill starts. As a pregnant person, you have to consider the multiple routes to the hospital or birthing center; you have to consider what you’ll do if one birth option is no longer available, or how you’ll adapt if, say, a pandemic occurs and you’re faced with giving birth alone or with only one support person or while wearing a mask. Pregnant people can see a possible scenario, then come up with 10 to 15 ways of dealing with it.
That ability will only aid you as a business owner and entrepreneur. You will undoubtedly be faced with a number of “what if” scenarios as you get your business off the ground, work to secure funding, build your own website, or update your customer service capabilities. Problems are sure to arise, but they won’t phase you: You’ve already thought of a million possibilities and come up with a million more solutions.
3. You know how to establish boundaries
If you can tell that overbearing family member to back off, you can tell an overbearing co-founder to respect your work-life boundaries when you’re a business owner. And if you can kick your mother-in-law out of the delivery room, ignoring your email and taking actual time off to set an example for your employees will be a breeze (at least in theory).
4. You’re ready to advocate for yourself and others
Whether it’s making sure your OB-GYN or midwife respects your birth plan, or switching healthcare providers if your previous doctor didn’t meet you where you were, pregnancy is a months’ long lesson in learning how to advocate for yourself. That lesson isn’t always easy, but it will absolutely help you stand up for yourself as a business owner and others in the business sphere.
When you’re speaking with would-be investors, discussing upcoming strategies, or confronting a difficult employee or coworker, the strength you harness in pregnancy will help you make sure your voice is heard, as are the voices of those who should have a seat at the table when important business decisions are made.
5. You know all about endurance
Starting and growing a business is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires near-constant dedication. It’s the byproduct of long nights, working on weekends, and sacrificing time with family and friends. It’s an endurance exercise, and so is pregnancy.
6. You’ve learned firsthand how important it is to delegate…
When I was pregnant, it was important to me that my OB-GYN take my wishes into account during every aspect of my pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. But since I am not an OB-GYN myself, nor do I have a medical degree (I cheated on basically every science test I ever took), I also knew that I had to rely on my doctor’s expertise and knowledge. They had to meet me where I was when it was medically safe to do so, and I had to trust that if they couldn’t, it was because it wasn’t medically feasible or the best thing for my and my baby’s health.
In other words, I had to delegate aspects of my care to my doctor and my doctor only. I had to rely on them to see me through the pregnancy process, and you better believe it made it much easier to “let go” in other areas of my life, including my career.
7. … and how pointless it is to micromanage
What a waste of time, right? I attempted to micromanage my best friend when she was planning my baby shower, and not only was it pointless, but it was stressful for all parties involved. She had thrown baby showers before, while I had not, so she knew exactly what she was doing, and it turned out beautifully once I got out of the way. Lesson learned.
Whenever I consider dipping my toe into a coworker’s work, I think back on that baby shower and how close I came to ruining it because I couldn’t just let go and trust my friend to do her thing. Pregnancy has a way of teaching you that not only can you not do it all, you should not do it all. There are people with learned experiences and knowledge that can simply do certain things more efficiently and effectively than you can. Or at the very least, they won’t mess it up. So let them do it.
8. You can easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses in others…
I knew which friend I could call on to be there when my son was born, and which friend(s) would probably pass out at the first sight of blood. I knew who to call when I needed to vent about the bullsh*t parts of pregnancy, and who to call when I needed a healthy dose of perspective. When you’re pregnant and preparing for parenthood, you tend to take a beat and consider the people you have in your life and how they help and support you (or don’t) in the various aspects of your life.
This exercise will certainly help you build a capable, committed team as a business owner. Figuring out who will excel at what is a vital component of creating a workforce that will help you reach your goals.
9. … as well as yourself
It’s a humbling experience, but pregnancy certainly forced me to consider what I’m best at — and what I’m not. And while it might be difficult to admit that I’m not perfect at absolutely every aspect of motherhood (something most of us moms feel we’re expected to be), it was also one of the most beneficial realizations that came from pregnancy and parenthood. I can’t do it all — I’m not supposed to. Not as a mom, not as a partner, or a friend, a daughter, and certainly not as a business owner.
10. You don’t sweat the small stuff
Once you’ve pooped on the delivery table in front of relative strangers, you just don’t lose your mind over the things that, at the end of the day, don’t matter all that much. It’s really that simple.
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