“You’re building a startup while you’re pregnant? Are you insane?”
That’s what everyone asked me when I decided to get pregnant while working full-time at a tech startup in New York City in 2015. There I was: working at a startup, and pregnant.
Pregnancy rocked me and asked me to question everything I knew. It wasn’t easy, or anything like I was expecting. I had a somewhat difficult pregnancy the first time around, and I was thrust into moments of depression, despair, and anxiety.
Pregnancy is hard as shit, and I didn’t hear enough people talking about it. Telling the truth. Being honest about everything it took.
Fast-forward two and a half years later, and I got pregnant again—this time, building my own company. From senior leadership team to CEO, all in the midst of the never-ending marathon that is babies and breastfeeding and diapers and pregnancy and vomiting—and doing it all over again.
Yet at the same time, it became one of the deepest transitions and reorganizing principles in both my professional and personal life.
Interestingly, getting pregnant shifted my focus, but not in the “I never want to work again” kind of way that employers often fear.
Instead, I became more discerning about the decisions we made at work, I gained a clarity and focus I’d never before experienced, I wielded a new power over my command of the word “no,” and I quickly adopted new strategies to get people aligned around negotiations. Strangely, I was surprised to notice that getting pregnant made me a better leader and a more efficient employee. At the same time, working at a startup made me a better mom.
And yet, when I looked around the world and to my bookshelves for advice and guidance, I found relatively little that would help. The books were either categorized as “women’s leadership,” to encourage women to step up in the working world; or they were focused just on pregnancy and parenting, giving only a modicum of advice about how to pump enough when you go back to work. Why wasn’t working-and-parenting a more exciting proposition? What were we missing?
I craved a new kind of storytelling, a place where we could talk about the reality of working parents, and I didn’t find it.
So I set out to build it.
No more fake bubbles and posed pregnancy pics and warped gender norms. Absolutely ZERO photographs of a woman holding a baby and working on a laptop unless it also shows that same laptop filled with mountains of crushed cheerios and half of the keys stuck together because how the fuck do you laptop and baby? REALLY?
We’re here to talk about the hard stuff. To share what’s working and share all of the parts that are messy.
And then, we’re here to do what startup founders do best: to shake things up, to disrupt, and to reinvent.
We want to imagine a new future of what it looks like to be a working parent, a business leader, and a pregnant woman in today’s world.
The old ways aren’t working. They don’t work. We can’t force ourselves into the old models of parenting or the past models of a work world that was designed for “Ideal Workers” (aka, men)—and expect it to work. Those systems are broken. It’s time for us to figure out new models for work and life going forward.
Startup Pregnant is a place to mix work and family, to talk shop about business and birthing, to recognize that we thrive better when we collaborate across these cultural phenomena that have been strangely isolated from each other.
And, in fact, we can learn a lot from one another about how to reinvent the way business works.
- What if working and parenting didn’t have to be such a crazy, elaborate dance?
- What if there were some simpler ways to manage this frenetic journey and make it more do-able?
- What if there were key strategies and tools to make the journey more manageable?
- What if we could be on the same team, the same page, supporting each other?
- And … what if pregnancy actually has a lot of inherent wisdom in it, lessons that could serve to teach the business world a fair amount about how to make the work world level up in a way it’s never been before?
This is a place for an ongoing conversation about what it takes to build a company, become a parent, and chase after the multiple adventures you’re craving in your life. It’s not “either-or” — it’s a messy pile of “mostly in the middle.” We’re a group of people that want to explore what it takes to build thriving businesses and modern families..
My name is Sarah K Peck, and I’m the executive director behind Startup Pregnant.
My partner and I are tireless project creators: we like to say that we are “curious for a living,” and we have never stopped building projects, writing books, starting companies, and chasing adventures. Our latest adventures have doubled our family size—we’ve got two young boys who have been along for the ride. They, along with my fierce love of making work in the world, inspired this podcast and project. But this site is more than just my story.
This site is a place to collect and share the stories of thousands of women and parents and your journeys across leadership and in life.
I’m honored to be the host of the Startup Pregnant podcast and the curator of stories for our website and blog.
Take a look around, thanks for being here, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.
MOST POPULAR POSTS
Our latest + most popular posts across entrepreneurship, business-building, pregnancy, and parenting.
Data Driven Parenting: An Economist on Breastfeeding, Sleep Training, and Vaccinations — Episode #111 With Emily Oster
After disrupting the fear-based pregnancy advice space with her first book “Expecting Better”, Economist Emily Oster is back, applying her data-driven decision making to parenting with her second book, “Cribsheet”. Many of her conclusions will surprise you: like who is the biggest beneficiary of breast-feeding, who is correct in the sleep train or not debate, and how to understand the full body of research around vaccinations. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate Oster’s warmth and candor about her own parenting experiences and you’ll leave this interview feeling informed, empowered, and confident in your own parenting choices.
Redefining Motherhood: Matrescence and Debunking the Myth of the Perfect Mother — Episode #110 With Dr. Alexandra Sacks
In our culture, mothers are divided into two camps: the “Perfect Mothers” and the “Bad Moms.” This false dichotomy robs women of a shared language to speak about motherhood as it really is: an expansive, grey emotional zone of swirling, conflicting feelings. Dr. Alexandra Sacks guides us a through a new way of looking at motherhood through the lens of “matresence” — or the natural psychological experience that is the identity transition into motherhood.
Postpartum Recovery: Healing, Being a New Mom, and Nutritional Health — Episode #059 With Lily Nichols
We place a lot of emphasis on planning for the perfect birth and making sure that our bodies are healthy during pregnancy. But what do we need to recover after the baby arrives? Lily Nichols shares her postpartum journey, discussing her extreme caution around physical exertion and the nutrients new moms need to heal damaged tissue and meet the energy demands of breastfeeding.
“Two-career couples have the assumption going into having a family, ‘Of course this is equal co-parenting. It’s 2019. What else would we do?’ But it so rarely plays out that way.” Despite the hope for equal partnership, it’s often mothers who are still doing the lion’s share of the unpaid, invisible labor of managing children and the home. Why is this?
If You Work Hard Enough You Can Do Anything, Except Get Pregnant: A Journey Through Infertility — Episode #118 With Lucy Knisley
Her whole life, Lucy Knisley wanted to be a mother, but when it was finally the perfect time for conceiving, it turned out to be harder than anything she’d ever attempted. Fertility problems were followed by miscarriages and her eventual successful pregnancy was plagued by health issues and led to a dramatic near-death experience during labor and delivery. She chronicled this experience and more in the book that she recently wrote called “Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos.” The book is funny and terrifying and informative and useful and real and raw, just like our conversation with Lucy today.
The Myths of Miscarriage, The Lean In Fallacy, and Mothers’ Rage — Episode #115 With Katherine Goldstein
What happens when you find out that you are pregnant as you are trying to launch a podcast about how mothers experience bias and discrimination in the workplace? Why do we force women to wrap their miscarriage and fertility traumas into a bow—“But now I have a baby, so it’s all okay”—to make it palatable to the public? Why should you look around for mothers in a workplace before accepting a new job? Award-winning journalist and podcast creator Katherine Goldstein goes deep with us on so many of the most pressing topics for working mothers and holds nothing back. Between her research, the data, her own experience, and her reported experience of hundreds of moms, Katherine is a wealth of knowledge and a truth bomb dropper. She is waging war against cultural forces holding mothers back from being their fullest, most ambitious, most rage-filled selves and we are so grateful to have her on the podcast today.
This time of life—fertility, pregnancy, parenting, all while starting and growing your business at the same time—is madness. Plain and simple. It's nutty, it's hard, it's outrageous, it's tear-inducing, it's fantastic, and you might want to rip your hair out. This website is for you, in these moments of sanity-insanity. We want to support you, and if there's something we can do to help you make the next day, week, month, or year a little better, that's our goal.
If you're navigating this madness alongside us, know that there are thousands of other entrepreneurs out there, building a little bit each day, trying to succeed despite the odds. Take a look through our resources and grab what's most useful for you. If you'd like to see something that's not yet listed here, reach out and send us an email—who knows, maybe we can build it together. Because we're like that, right? Always building what needs to be built in the world.
Our weekly newsletter is filled with stories, wisdom, and resources for working parents. If you're a female founder, a business owner, or simply someone working through your own growth as a parent and at a job, we're the newsletter that has your back.
We've interviewed hundreds of female founders and women entrepreneurs about their journeys to building businesses, getting pregnant, pivoting, dealing with the unexpected, and the transformation that can come alongside any of these life adventures. Listen to our podcast on any player or browse through our curated library to listen to episodes by topic.
ASK SARAH: PRIVATE Q/A SESSIONS
For those of you that have blitzed through the podcast and want to go deeper (or even get feedback on your ideas and challenges), Sarah hosts a private monthly Q/A series through her Patreon page. Become a backer at the $7/month level and listen to all past episodes—you can add the private podcast link to any player and listen just like a regular show. Want her to look at your project or parenting pickle? Submit your questions in advance and she'll answer as many as she can each month.
A series of mini-books for working parents, soon-to-be-parents, and people thinking about navigating the pregnancy journey. These books are short and sweet—between 10,000 and 20,000 words each—and meant to be read easily in the midst of your already-busy life. Our first in the series are now available.
After hundreds of books (and thousands of hours reading), we've curated our favorite reads on pregnancy, postpartum, parenting, business, and feminism—check a look at our hand-picked reading lists and find your next favorite book.
We're a 500-person strong group of female founders and entrepreneurs, as well as freelancers, side hustlers, leaders, corporate builders, managers, and even academics all gathering in one place to talk about what it takes to make working parenting, well, WORK in today's world.
We're gathering together in real time, with other women entrepreneurs, away from our kiddos and businesses (well, to the extent that we can—we'll have options to bring your family and/or work along if you want to!). We're going to have each others' backs, and a weekend away is just the thing to regain your sanity, clarity, and sense of self.
THE WISE WOMEN'S COUNCIL
A nine-month community group for women in business, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Every year we open the doors for people to join us in an intimate learning space for women at the intersection of business and family. If you'd like to learn more or apply to join, we open applications in January, and the program begins in March.
WORK TOGETHER 1:1
If you'd like to work together more directly, I've worked as a consultant for startups and businesses helping you with your strategic plan, marketing and communications, positioning, and growth. I can also help you put a plan into place for your maternity leave, helping your run your business smoothly. If you're looking for a coach, get on the waitlist or I can recommend some fantastic partners.