Reflections on running a small business when pregnant…

Clients hire successful-looking agencies, so when I shuffled into pitch meetings very pregnant looking like Shrek’s granny…

Some women blossom in pregnancy. I didn’t. Running a small business when pregnant can be brutal.

Here’s a few highlights of my last nine months:

  • Pregnancy hormones: they made me want to cry ALL THE TIME. Or lie in bed eating chocolate.
  • Baby brain: getting off the phone from a client and realising that I had no idea what we had discussed.
  • Stuff that wasn’t in the diary: you can’t schedule the medical aspects of pregnancy. I found myself writing tenders from my hospital bed.
  • First impressions: shuffling into meetings in maternity dungarees, then shuffling out again for the toilet.  

And six tips for other pregnant small business-owners:  

  • Don’t panic: when else in the life of a small business can you plan for changes 9 months in advance?
  • New clients need to believe in you, it may not be the best moment to chase new work: sleep-deprived and queasy doesn’t inspire confidence.
  • It is useful not having to dress corporate-office smart every day / hide a not-yet-ready-to-announce pregnancy from your employer – I ballooned to look 6 months within the first 8 weeks. Work from home in pjs and slippers when you need to.
  • Morning sickness is easier to handle if you only need to be impressive for a pitch / client meeting – don’t arrange days of back-to-back meetings.
  • Schedule recovery time after any travel or particularly big days. You will need it.
  • Use your team: I couldn’t have got through the past nine months without the unfailing support of my wonderful gingerheads. 

It is tough having a baby when you run your own business: I finished for maternity at 4:00am on a Sunday and had my daughter at 10:35am Monday. But it doesn’t need to mean damaging your business or your family life.

I’m back after two lovely weeks off, with maternity cover, the advantage of not needing to be full time and the flexibility of structuring my day so that I work between newborn feeding and napping. For any female business owners worried about doing the same, I can honestly say that its working for us and so much easier than pregnancy!