The whole experience of becoming a mom happened just a couple short months ago in March 2016. It took me a while to write down the lessons that came out of the whole experience…but I was busy learning the ins and outs of motherhood, and enjoying some maternity leave with plenty of baby snuggles.
Having run a successful six figure business for many years, the change has been pretty drastic: from full-time entrepreneur to full-time mommy, all in the course of a few short months.
So here’s what I learned, and how it relates to my new life as a mompreneur…
1. Interviews Matter: Find Out If You’re Compatible
We were fortunate to have had a very healthy pregnancy, and after doing a lot of research we chose to have a home birth.
In the process of making this decision, we also visited birthing centers and looked into more conventional hospital options. (If you’re curious about the different birth options, I highly recommend watching “The Business Of Being Born” and “More Business Of Being Born” documentaries, both available on Netflix.)
Often people are surprised to hear that we interviewed the various people who we were considering as a part of our “birth team.” But in the end it helped us make a the right decision and choose someone who would help, rather than hinder, our birthing plan.
Don’t settle on the first option that comes your way, whether it’s a job candidate or coach… Do your due diligence, interview and ask the tough questions, and make the right call for your particular circumstances or business.
After all, it’s your call!
2. Just Because It’s Not How Everyone Else Does It Doesn’t Mean It’s Wrong
Choosing to have a home birth brought a lot of resistance from our parents, family members, and anyone who heard us mention that we weren’t giving birth in a hospital. It’s kind of unconventional.
A personal reason why I wasn’t keen to give birth in a hospital comes from my mother’s experience. She was a few days past her “due date” and went to the hospital to get induced. The doctor thought she wasn’t progressing fast enough, so he used a sharp instrument to break her water… only to break the surface of the skin on my cheek.
My mom was appalled, but the doctor assured her this was routine and that the mark on my face would be gone in a few days. Over thirty years later, and it’s still there. But the real danger would have been if my eye was where my cheek was, instead!
This kind of “routine medical intervention” to induce birth didn’t feel appropriate or necessary to me, so we chose to let the baby decide when it wanted to arrive.
My husband and I had to field a lot of questions about how safe or dangerous this birth was going to be (even though we were only fifteen minutes away from the closest hospital if we did have to transfer).
But you know, I faced a similar resistance from my parents and peers when I started my business. The same logic about how “risky” and “dangerous” it is to start a business kept being brought up…even though today entrepreneurship is cool and even idolized.
I’m not saying that home birth is going to become the cool thing to do like starting a business has, but I am seeing a lot more women choosing to birth without as many interventions as hospitals have routinely given in recent years.
Not everyone is going to like your decisions, but as long as you feel confident in your choices, listen to your instincts.
Often, some of my best ideas are met with resistance, until they’re proven successful (like selling a product for a much more affordable fee than your biggest competitors, because you know it’s a fair price!).
3. Mindset Matters: The Birth Story
Our little girl, Tegan, arrived two weeks past my “due date”, and the birth itself was relatively fast and smooth. After two days of mild contractions (at first I couldn’t tell if it was a contraction or not because it wasn’t painful), I was in active labor. Tegan was born just after midnight, and my husband and I got to bond with the baby in bed while the midwives helped clean up and then checked all of our vitals.
We slept all snuggled up in our bed, and I knew everything would be different from now on!
Although at the time it didn’t feel like the birth was happening quickly, looking back it definitely was a fast process.
I’m sharing this for a reason: I credit a lot of my “good birth experience” to the mindset I developed, and the positive birth attitude I cultivated.
A lot of our associations with birth are that it’s painful, dangerous, and just plain scary. Luckily, last summer before I even knew I was expecting, I picked up the book “Birth Without Fear” from the library… and while it was written a long time ago, it helped plant the seed that birth and scary pain didn’t have to go hand in hand.
I was also inspired to sign up for Debra Pascali-Bonaro’s “Pain To Power Childbirth” online program. Birth is an “in your body” experience as opposed to being a logical “in your head” thing, and I feel like this program really helps to ground women into their bodies and birth experience, gently over time.
Each week was like getting a new understanding of what birth is really about, and how to work with your body’s natural cues rather than against them.
Between all of this positive mindset training, I was able to stay in the moment even when things felt overwhelming or when I was getting tired from pushing. And for all you ladies who have given birth before, you can imagine how huge of a difference that made!
Learn from people who have had the type of experience that you want to have, whether that’s a positive birth experience, putting on a successful live event, or doing a launch.
4. Practice Consistently For The Big Event
One of the things I remember thinking while I was in our bathtub pushing out this small baby with a big head… is that I wish I had done more squats!
Although I did some prenatal yoga, and we took walks almost daily during my pregnancy to keep active… I still felt like my leg muscles could have been better prepared.
In term of business, I can definitely see practicing your craft as a key to success. When I give a forty-five minute keynote presentation or webinar, I usually practice for at least five–ten hours… not counting the time spent crafting the talk itself.
For other types of activities, like writing marketing copy or coaching a client: it gets better the more you do it.
Don’t think you can just “wing it” when you get there. Practice and preparation make a huge difference in your delivery. (Pun intended!)
5. Ride The Waves: Push and Pause for Pleasure
One of my big takeaways from becoming a “birth geek” and learning about the hormones that are present during the birthing process was that the body naturally produces Oxytocin, which is often called the love hormone. (Pitocin is the manufactured version of Oxytocin that’s often used to induce labor, but it doesn’t have the same feel-good effects as your body’s natural Oxytocin.)
The best way to tap into the power of your body’s natural pain reliever (Oxytocin) is to stay in a relaxed state, and not get caught in the fight or flight adrenaline cycle.
For me, that meant having some of my favorite music playing in the background, dimming the lights, and having lots of privacy. In fact, for about 80% of my labor it was just me and my husband, while our midwives were in the next room listening and timing contractions.
This level of privacy allowed me to just do my thing, and not worry about what I sounded like (a cow mooing?) or what I looked like (pretty sweaty!).
My best pushes came when I was able to be fully zen during the pauses between contractions. Sometimes I got so relaxed and tapped into that “Oxytocin love feeling” that I almost forgot about what was coming next or what just happened.
I think this kind of push and pause for pleasure is important in business, too.
Whether you look at it on a weekly level: working hard for five days and taking two days off on the week-ends to rejuvenate and have fun. Or you look at it on a larger scale, for big projects or launches having more of a “push” focus and then taking time to coast between marketing campaigns.
Allow yourself to enjoy the down time between pushes in your life and business – whether they’re marketing or physical rest phases.
6. Feel The Inevitability Of What You’re Creating
During my labor, I soundly remember thinking: there was no way out, but to get through it.
In many aspects of life and business there are a lot of exit strategies or “ways out” of doing something.
For example, if you decide that you don’t want to record videos for your marketing, you can stop. Or, if you’re in school studying a particular topic and you find that you’d rather study something else, you can always change majors.
But when you’ve made a baby, and carried it for nine plus months… you can’t change your mind, it has to come out! (This might sound obvious, but it really hits you when you’re laboring!)
There were certainly times when I felt like I was too tired to keep going. I would have liked to take a break, maybe continue the next day after I slept or ate something… but when it’s time, you just follow your body’s lead.
In business, you don’t always feel that “inevitable” force of creation coming through. But every time I have, it has helped me to keep going when I felt like giving up.
Some of the times where I’ve felt that inevitable creative energy in my business have been when I set deadlines for myself that involved other people and kept me accountable. The big ones are hosting live events, webinars, retreats, and pre-selling a product and then delivering it on time.
Deadlines make your work feel like an inevitable creative force is carrying you forward… and sometimes you’d rather take a nap, but you don’t have much of a choice when you’re giving birth or birthing a new part of your business.
7. Trust That You Can Do It
During my pregnancy, I had doubts about my ability to birth this baby au natural. It didn’t help that most TV shows and people you talk to make birth look and sound like the worst pain imaginable.
But one of my favorite quotes to help me trust my body is from Ina May Gaskin:
“We are the only species of mammal that doubts our ability to give birth.
It’s profitable to scare women about birth.
But let’s stop it.
I tell women: Your body is not a lemon.”
What this meant for me was to remember that if I was able to conceive this baby, and nurture it for months, then surely my body would know how to successfully bring it out into the world, too.
The idea that my body is “not a lemon” meant that it has everything it needs, and there’s no manufacturing defect like with a “lemon” car.
In business, you also have to trust that you have everything you need to accomplish what you set out to do. Sometimes you don’t know “how” you’ll get it all done, but trusting that you can figure it out as you approach each hurdle is key.
I can’t count the times that I’ve sought to do something that might have seemed crazy or impossible, but by rallying the right people and trusting in the vision… we made it happen.
Trust that you have what it takes to make it all happen. Whether you’re afraid you won’t reach your income goals, or you don’t know how you’ll deliver on a complex project… you can do it if you remember that you’re not “less than” anyone else and you were designed to handle this, too.
Birth and Business Lessons: That’s Just The Beginning…
Now that Tegan is here with us, I’m learning so much about being a parent and it’s clear that birth is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to “lessons learned”.
And you know, we all have our birth stories… whether it’s the birth of a child or a business, project, or other venture. Bringing something new, something beloved into the world is an amazing process – and we can learn a lot from the journey we take to get there!
A version of this post appeared on nathalielussier.com.
Nathalie Lussier is an award winning digital strategist and co-founder of AmbitionAlly. She’s also the creator of the wildly popular and free 30 Day List Building Challenge. You can find more info on her website or follow her on FB or Twitter.