This is a guest post by Britta Alexander from Year of the Book.
As excited as you are to be pregnant, the logistics of a pregnancy can be terrifying for entrepreneurs.
After all, we don’t have big company perks like a cushy group health insurance policy, someone to pay the salary of our maternity leave replacement, and the satisfaction of eating cake in the conference room just before we head out the door — for three uninterrupted months.
I’ve been through two pregnancies while running my own business, and in the end everything worked out.
Here’s how to manage a business and a pregnancy, from the “plus sign” to the fourth trimester:
1. Go ahead, tell them.
Your clients will not drop you when you tell them the news
Right or wrong, hearing that their go-to-girl is pregnant may not be the best news your clients have heard all day. But that does not mean they’re going to fire you (which was my irrational fear both times around).
The best thing you can do after you break the news is to keep up your A game and, when the time comes, present a detailed plan for how you’ll be handling your maternity leave.
2. That said, don’t focus on your pregnancy when dealing with clients or employees
Throughout my pregnancies, my goal was to let my clients know I was completely focused on their business. That means I kept morning sickness, exhaustion, and my intense cravings for Thai food out of our small talk.
If you do make a mistake, don’t blame it on your pregnancy. Your client doesn’t need to know you’re late to the conference call because you were throwing up — for the third time this morning. This goes for your employees, too.
3. Outline your maternity leave game plan
If you’re worried about how your business will run in the weeks or months after you give birth, face those fears head on. It’s never too early to start putting together your maternity plan — just open up a fresh document and start outlining what needs to be done. Add to it a little each day.
Even if you have no idea who will do all this work you’re outlining, getting clear on what needs to be done will help you recognize the right person over the next few months. It’ll also reveal if there are any projects you need to surrender.
4. Your second trimester is your best friend
Get as much done as humanly possible during your second trimester, because it’s the best you’re going to feel for awhile.
Leave some space to channel that energy into your home, too. Plan dates with your older children. Get the nursery ready to go. Have someone take maternity pictures of you while your belly is still “cute.” If you’re on the brink of a season change, do all the clothing swap-outs now. Taking care of these details now is giving yourself a gift for your third — and fourth — trimesters.
5. Plan to start phasing out during your ninth month
Even if your baby doesn’t come early, trust me when I say you will not be bringing your best game to the table during your final month of pregnancy. Wrap up all your big deadlines early in your ninth month. If you have someone covering for you, have them work alongside you during your final month (yes, you’ll have to pay for some overlap).
6. Do everything you can to protect your maternity leave
My first child was delivered via emergency C-section, which means when I went back to work at 6 weeks, I was just barely cleared to drive. I struggled like hell that year, and I wish I had given myself more space to heal and get more comfortable with my new role as a mother. With my second child, I took about 11 weeks off while my oldest continued going to part-time daycare. Even though I felt the pressures of the office (and guilt about the daycare), I guarded this alone time with my newborn, and I’m so glad I did.
7. And finally: You work for yourself, remember?
Over the next year, it may seem like your pregnant friends with jobs have it far easier. So let me remind you about the day you became your own boss. Remember that? And now, as your own boss, let me remind you that if you need to take an hour-long nap every day, you should absolutely do it.
About the author:
Britta Alexander helps experts plan, write, and publish meaningful books through her company, Year of the Book. She is also a founding partner of Eat Media, a content-focused digital agency. Britta lives in a riverside village just north of New York City with her husband and two sons (and twins on the way!). Follow Britta on Twitter or Facebook for tips on breaking through blocks and doing your best work.