Babyproof Your Business – Maternity Leave Planning with Arianna Taboada

 In Baby, Baby Preparation, Pregnancy

During my pregnancy, I came across Arianna Taboada. I immediately connected with her message – “babyproof your business”. I’d been trying to imagine how I was going to juggle MBA to Motherhood, and a newborn baby and her resources definitely encouraged me to think about a plan. For entrepreneurs who have clients depending on them, or have a hard time switching off from their business, maternity leave planning is a MUST DO during pregnancy.

Keep reading to hear more about Arianna’s services and her advice for planning your maternity leave!

What services do you provide as a maternity leave consultant for entrepreneurs?

I work with expecting entrepreneurs from early pregnancy through the first year postpartum – and sometimes up until their child is a toddler! My signature maternity leave planning service covers what I like to call the “nuts and bolts” of a solid leave plan:

  • Mapping out systems and support you need to babyproof your business
  • Reverse engineering your time off and transition back to work
  • Roles for eager friends, family, and professionals you may need (e.g. lactation consultants, counselors, childcare providers)

At the end of our time together, clients leave with a clear vision for their maternity and  action plan for implementing the systems and support to make it happen. I also offer coaching that provides clients with hands on-support in the weeks leading up to birth as they implement the maternity leave action plan we outline together, as well as back-to-business support on the other end as they transition out of their leave.

With coaching clients, we are able to tackle some of the more nitty gritty details of:

  • How to train your team, communicate with clients, and keep your key business functions running smoothly in your absence
  • Reverse engineering sales, revenue, and budget-related details for leave
  • Back to work schedule, productivity with a baby, and business growth the first year postpartum
  • How to navigate breastfeeding, pumping, childcare, and household duties when you return to work

Because I am trained as a maternal-child health social worker, I also believe in taking a truly integrative approach to client work. Besides the “nuts and bolts”, we cover things like:

  • Building your ability to make decisions aligned with your values in the midst of many new-mama “unknowns”
  • Strategies to support navigating any stress, anxiety, and fear related to your new role as a working mother
  • Developing your new identity as a mother while not losing your identity as a driven entrepreneur
  • How to access postpartum physical and mental care early on so you are able to feel your best returning to your business

How did you get into maternity leave planning?

I’m a health professional by training and went into private practice in 2012 to work with clients 1:1 outside of the formal health care system. This was prompted by an international move, so I had a steep learning curve in terms of taking my decade experience of in-person work into the online world. The early years of my business really focused on providing postpartum support, but I quickly learned a few things:

  1. I tended to attract women who also worked for themselves!
  2. Maternity leave was a key part of postpartum support for self-employed entrepreneurial women and if I was going to ensure my clients had positive outcomes I needed to address it head on and
  3. Postpartum really needed to be thought through during pregnancy, before anything turned into a crisis, which is how my clients often felt by the time we began working together.

So, I revisited my core service model and began to explicitly and proactively tackle maternity leave, postpartum support, and back to work transitions with clients who were in the early stages of pregnancy and thinking ahead about how to navigate entrepreneurship and motherhood. This shift in my business from postpartum support with some maternity leave planning sprinkled in to centralizing maternity leave rolled out in late 2015, but really took off mid-2016 after I myself returned from an extended maternity leave with my son, who was born March 2016.

What were your experiences with pregnancy and postpartum?

I had a rough early pregnancy and spent most of my first 16 weeks hanging out next to the toilet! To say the least, I did not get much done in terms of work. I mourned the productive, cheery, and enthusiastic version of myself that seemed to have disappeared in those early weeks of pregnancy. I felt like a shadow of myself, and really struggled with the loss of that identity. In hindsight, I got an early taste of the shifting roles and identity that comes with working motherhood!

By the time I was feeling better, I dove into maternity leave planning and postpartum prep. I like to think that my positive postpartum experience had something to do with frontloading all that planning! I had all the “heavy lifting” planned out and taken care of: laundry, cooking, meal planning, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. In fact, I did not even leave the bedroom for the first few days, and having that cocoon atmosphere was something I enjoyed – I literally emerged a different person.

I had a homebirth, so a huge factor that was that I had all of my postpartum care at home as well — my midwives came to see me 24 hours, 2 days, 5 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 6 weeks after birth.

How did you prepare yourself and your business for your baby?

I basically turned myself into my own client!!! Seriously, I went through all the steps and exercises I take clients through: time tracking, eco-map, reverse engineering leave, client communication, meal planning, etc.

In terms of my business I mapped out my ideal maternity leave scenario:

  • Slow down my private practice workload during pregnancy
  • Start official leave at 38 weeks
  • Be completely unavailable (no client calls, emails, or meetings) for 12 weeks postpartum
  • Begin to be available (minimal hours) via email only at 13 weeks postpartum (equivalent to 15 weeks of official leave)
  • Work my way up gradually back to my regular hours over the course of a month.
  • Resume regular work hours at 20 weeks postpartum

Guess what? My plan changed once my baby was born. Once I was actually on leave and I realized actually wanted to get back into some things like writing content and writing emails around 8 weeks postpartum. I also learned that my new “regular hours” were capped at 4 days a week — and that I wouldn’t build back up to truly working full time again until nearly a year postpartum.

What top piece of advice would you offer a pregnant woman planning her maternity leave?

Don’t feel like you have to choose between no leave and a set amount of weeks where you step away from your business completely. There are so many other options on the spectrum – take the time to dream about what your ideal scenario would be, talk to other women, and craft something that works for you and your work.

What about a new mom in the midst of leave?

Plan to give yourself a transition period. Test out your childcare before you actually start working again. Work some part time hours or half days at first to help get your brain back into work mode. Give yourself time to process how you are feeling about heading back to work, and what it will feel like to add “working mama” to your list of new titles.

And finally, what advice would you offer a mom transitioning back to work after maternity leave?

Don’t do it alone – find support! Talk to other mothers or colleagues in your same shoes. Seek advice from those who may be a few stages ahead. Build a support network that you can rely on to help you handle the hard days and celebrate on the good days.

Where can readers find out more about you and your services?

My home on the internet is at www.ariannataboada.com. Right now I have an exciting initiative called the 100 Businesses Babyproofed Project, and you can read all about that here.

Arianna is a maternal health consultant who works with experienced entrepreneurs who are becoming first time mothers, helping them customize their maternity leave plan and return to work. She is deeply committed to providing on-going, multi-faceted support that meets the professional, physical, mental, social, and emotional needs of entrepreneurs as they babyproof their business and navigate new motherhood.

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