Prepping For Maternity Leave

We live in a society that pressures us to do more, a cult of busyness if you will. In our holiday letters, we brag about how hectic our lives are, and as women, we have a much harder time experiencing leisure and play than we do work. So, what happens when you need to slow down and take leave from work to have a baby?

In the US, pregnant women are typically expected to work straight through to delivery—and be back after just a few short weeks. Maternity leave is even more challenging for female business owners and entrepreneurs who lack social protections, who are not covered by any kind of infrastructure that provides the space and time to step away.

On this edition of The Friendship Series, Cary Fortin and I unpack parental leave, discussing our frustration with the culture’s response to taking time off and the bizarre series of myths we hold about motherhood. I share the details of my first 12-week maternity leave working for a startup, explaining how the policy took shape as I lived it and why I negotiated the option to work at 50% for an additional three months before getting back up to full speed.

Cary describes what her maternity leave looked like as an entrepreneur and freelancer and how she would afford herself more time off, given the opportunity. Listen in for insight on how I designed maternity leave this time around, batching content and enlisting the help of a team to give myself the freedom to focus on my family and my writing for several months—while my business continues to grow!

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #086

Some quotes from the episode


  • “Designing for the best-case scenario is not necessarily a sound strategy. So, I did the same thing with [maternity] leave.”
  • “Most people just don’t get their stride back until about six months postpartum, and that’s on the early side. I’m pretty convinced that, at a baseline in the United States, we should have six months paid leave.”
  • “Instead of overpromising and underdelivering, really, really, really undersell and under-promise.”
  • “Look, government, social structures and your job are probably not going to cover you, so save your own maternity leave and start now—even if you don’t know if you want to have kids. Just put ten grand aside, not an emergency savings but your mat leave savings, because no one else is going to do it for you.”
  • “[I’m also focused on] deliberately trying to go slower, even though it makes me feel kind of guilty.”
  • “For women to take actual time to just indulge in something that feels good is something that has been eliminated from our repertoire or our diet for decades.”
  • “What does it look like to have love and joy and space and time? That’s the future I want to work toward.”


  • “I’m not angry at maternity leave. I’m angry at our culture’s response to maternity leave.”
  • “It’s a part of this really bizarre series of motherhood myths that are all in conflict. It’s pure joy! You’re radiant! It’s amazing. Also, please put your breasts away. That’s gross.”
  • “I had a lot of fear … and worries that work would dry up or opportunities wouldn’t be there when I got back [from maternity leave]. If I could have spoken more honestly with people leading up to it and been a lot more clear about my timeline, I think it would have been better on everyone’s end.”
  • “I wish I had built up a much stronger buffer for myself—financially and workwise.”
  • “Could there be two more diametrically opposed energies than the hypermasculine, linear, forward progress, move-move-move and this thing we’re asking women to do—to just break open and create new life?”


Cary Fortin is the co-founder of New Minimalism, a simple living website and provider of declutter + design services. New Minimalism brings together the fields of psychology and sustainable design to create holistic, long-term solutions for clients looking to simplify and renew their homes and workspaces. Cary’s work has been featured in Mindbodygreen, Apartment Therapy, and Yoga Journal, among many other publications, and she is the co-author of New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living.



Thank you to the sponsor of this episode: Aeroflow Breastpumps. They are dedicated to making the hassle of getting your breast pump a little bit easier—actually, a lot easier! Head to to have them help you qualify for a free breast pump through insurance.

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