You’ve done it. You’ve conceived a business and now taken the step to conceive a child. You expect a beautiful experience. You look forward to baby showers, gender reveal parties, maternity shoots, hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time and announcing your pregnancy to your family. Sure, you know to expect morning sickness and a bit of fatigue, but you’re ready. You’ve prepared your business by redistributing workloads and hiring someone to support you in the office in case you need to slow down.
What you don’t expect are more serious pregnancy complications that could affect your ability to function as a leader. May is awareness month for maternal mental health conditions, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and preeclampsia.
One in seven pregnancies results in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs); preeclampsia and HG are both estimated to occur in two to 10 percent of pregnancies. PMADs can occur at any time in pregnancy or up to one year postpartum. Preeclampsia is most often diagnosed in the third trimester. HG starts in the first trimester and can last the entire pregnancy.
All three complications require medical interventions and additional care that most parents do not expect to face. This means shifting how you manage your business.
How to cope with the unexpected
- Put your health first. Rest, go to all of your appointments, and follow the treatments your doctor prescribes. If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor’s response, seek a second opinion. You need a doctor that respects what you say and listens with compassion.
- Know your limits. Make a point to rest more often and shift to remote work as you need to. Accepting your limitations and being realistic about how much rest and time you need will lift stress.
- Communicate with your team. Communication is more important than ever. Trust your team to have your best interests in mind for both your health and your business. You will need to delegate a lot, so communicate what you need.
- Ask for help at home. Ask your friends and family for help with older children, errands, home tasks, and meals. The extra help will free you to focus on your health and spend more energy on leading your team.
- Be aware of your thoughts. Work toward a kind narrative of your situation. For example, if you’re feeling negative about your productivity, tell yourself “I am focusing on my health and my baby’s health and doing the best I can under the circumstances. I deserve to rest and receive the care I need.” Practice your narrative repeatedly. Consider telehealth therapy with a professional knowledgeable in pregnancy complications to help you process what’s happening. It’s not your fault you have a pregnancy complication.
If you are diagnosed with PMADs, HG, or preeclampsia, you may need to re-envision your 4th trimester and create a recovery plan that factors in the physical and mental toll of the pregnancy. This means continuing to set boundaries around your health and baby, reassigning work you expected to do yourself, and trusting your team to take care of business while you heal.
Pregnancy complications are often a rock in the smooth water of life, and the ripples can extend to many areas. PMADs, HG, and preeclampsia can interfere with your plans, alter your lifestyle, and temporarily make it much harder to run your business. But when you recover, you will find the ripple effect of surviving has created a stronger, more resilient you who can innovate and lead more effectively than ever before.
Resources on pregnancy complications
Connect with others facing the same unexpected developments. These patient-driven nonprofit organizations are well-known for supporting families as they cope with these conditions.