Pregnancy Perceptions in Business

So it’s 08.35 and I have been awake since 5am. With only 4 hours sleep I feel like I should be more tired than I am but I also know that I will crash big time later on. This has happened a few times in the last couple of weeks and usually I force myself to go back to sleep, however after a few hours kip I wake up groggy and wish I had just got up when I woke up. So that’s what I did today and to be fair, I have been quite productive.

I’ve written some articles for clients, had breakfast, plucked my eyebrows and researched social media for business. It’s at times like this that I’m delighted to be self employed and mostly work from home. I couldn’t imagine having to now get ready and make my way into an office to try and pretend I’m not yawning every 2 minutes until 5pm! Girls I praise you for dealing with all of that!

Moving on, I just wanted to share my thoughts on pregnancy and the perception of it in business. Last week I had a few new business meetings and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous. Not nervous about the meetings as such, but about the reactions to me being heavily pregnant. I met with two potential female clients, the first of which was pregnant herself, and as I sat down in that first meeting, I breathed a sigh of relief that the whole pregnancy thing wouldn’t be an issue. We had a great chat about due dates and scans, all the usual pregnancy stuff before getting down to business and that was that.

The second meeting went just as well. I was greeted with a big smile and “Congratulations!” before hearing all about the woman’s sister who is due in September and is bridesmaid to their other sister in October and is already thinking about losing the baby weight to fit into the dress. Two hours later, I was delighted once again that expecting in August hadn’t been a concern when it came to business.

The whole thing got me thinking though. Why was I nervous? Should I be worried that people wouldn’t be interested in working with me knowing I have a baby on the way? What made me feel like that – my own insecurities or the way society reacted towards pregnant women/mothers of young children in business?!

I believe it’s a combination of a few things – men in business, female advice and the need to prove you are still YOU even though you’re a mother.

OK so men in business (bit of a touchy subject here): I don’t want to come across as criticising men because I don’t believe myself to be a feminist as such. Also, the nature of the working world is constantly shifting and I can see how younger business men are more in line with how the world works, rather than older guys who may feel it’s a man’s world and women look after the kids. I do think, however, that if I had met with a man the question “Who’s going to do the work when you’ve had the child?” would have cropped up. OK it’s a valid question but it also shows the concern and perhaps lack of confidence in me that it is something I have thought about in the last 9 months! As well as this, some men just don’t get that being a Mum doesn’t mean that the whole world revolves around the children, and if a woman decides to be a stay at home mum then I’m sure the decision hasn’t been made lightly. Again I commend you strong women who do decide this is for you because from what I’ve heard, it’s not an easy ride!! If anything, I have become more motivated in business since I fell pregnant. I want to grow something that I can be proud of and show my future children that this is what Mummy does. It’s not the right thing for everyone but it’s the right thing for me.

Female advice: again I don’t want to step on toes here but sometimes it’s just down right frustrating to hear or read that “we can’t have it all”. What is having it all? Having it all is what suits each individual – to one person having it all could mean something completely different to someone else. Also, if I hear another person ask me when I’m taking maternity leave, I will scream! Maternity leave when self employed? There’s no such thing. We live in a world of modern technology and I would be super surprised to hear that any self employed woman completely switches off before giving birth. Yes it’s likely that we wind down and step back from the day to day stuff but one eye is always going to be on the business. It’s natural and it’s what we know.

I am still ME: I think the need to prove you’re still the same person you were before you fell pregnant is a big issue for some women and it definitely is for me. I know I felt that people would look at me differently when I announced my pregnancy and some did. Family (especially my mum) treat me like I’m a china cup that could break at any second, which of course is natural to her as I’m her baby but not natural to me as I am independent and like to get on with things. Also I’m the size of a whale so it’s more likely I’ll break something before it breaks me. I feel like people look at me when I go to a bar – perhaps this is my paranoia but I honestly don’t think it is. So what if I’m in a bar with a massive pregnant belly? I’m not drinking, I’m not smoking, I’m just socialising with friends before it gets that bit harder to just decide to head out for a few hours with the girls.

I’m sure there’s plenty more that will come to mind but at just over 1000 words I think I may have ranted enough for one morning!

I’d love to hear your approach to the whole self employed/mummy issue. I know I will probably read back on this post sometime next year with experienced mum eyes and laugh at the naivety of myself but I hope I don’t. I hope I look back and think “what a silly girl you were for being insecure about other people’s perceptions of you and your pregnancy”.

T x

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