I hid my pregnancy from clients and coworkers for 8 months. I don't regret it.
- Jen Glantz is a solopreneur with a "bridesmaid for hire" business and multiple content streams.
- She decided to hide her pregnancy so she wouldn't risk losing clients or business.
The day I found out I was pregnant, I paced in sheer panic. A big part of me was grateful, but an even bigger part of me wondered how I was going to manage a newborn and a career at the same time.
For the past seven years, I've been a solopreneur with a business and multiple content streams, from newsletters to a podcast. My income varies drastically and relies on me being involved in every aspect of my businesses, from providing in-person services for clients to creating content for social media or my newsletters.
While being your own boss comes with many perks, one downside is that it doesn't come with maternity leave
At least, it doesn't in my case. If I'd planned ahead, I could have taken a short-term disability policy that would've provided me with paid maternity leave, but I would have had to take that policy out and pay into it for two years before getting pregnant. I didn't have the forward thinking to make that happen.
Which is why I decided, from day one of being pregnant, that I'd still work when the baby came. I need the income, since I won't have any paid leave and my partner gets just one week of paid leave with his job, and I also don't want to stop working or give up any piece of what I've built and grown over the past seven years.
I worried that if I took time off or told clients that I was pregnant, they'd find someone else
While this fear was mostly rooted in personal insecurities, I'd seen it happen with other women entrepreneurs and decided it would be best to just pretend I wasn't going to be having a baby in 2023.
So when I found out I was pregnant, I made the decision to hide it from everyone I could, for as long as possible. I lasted eight months and learned a lot along the way.
A friend hid her pregnancy, and it inspired me to hide mine
A few years ago, a friend who's an entrepreneur in the tech space was pregnant with her first child and decided not to tell anyone. She was in the midst of raising capital for her business and was given the advice from female mentors to hide her pregnancy, or else investors might not think she was going to be serious about running her business once she became a mom. Even now, years later, she hasn't shared anything about having a baby with her professional world.
When I asked if I should also hide my pregnancy from clients and people approaching me with opportunities, she said it's one the best things she ever did.
Once she told me that, I decided to commit to keeping this a secret. I figured that if nobody I work with knew I was pregnant, I could still apply for roles on TV shows and paid-promotion gigs, then delay meeting them for interviews until after I gave birth.
The one time I told a company, they decided not to work with me
Five months into my pregnancy, I booked a job as a TV host for an online show. I spent days shopping for outfits that hid any signs I was pregnant, but I started to get nervous that they'd notice anyway.
I decided to send an email sharing that I was pregnant. Within a few hours, the producer called me to share that they had decided to go in a different direction and that they'd be in touch soon.
I never heard from them again, and while I can't prove it's because of my pregnancy, it always felt like that was the reason. Before I sent that email, everything was moving smoothly — the script was written, I'd done rehearsals, they'd booked my plane ticket, and they'd started drafting marketing materials using my name.
After this happened, I decided to revert back to my original plan and not tell anyone else about my pregnancy.
I planned to do business as usual, but in a sneaky way
At first, this was easy. I wore baggy tops and loose pants for in-person meetings. By the fifth month of my pregnancy, I started to make excuses about meeting people in person (saying that I was traveling or too busy to meet for coffee) and did Zoom calls instead.
I also decided that since I wasn't going to have a maternity leave, I needed to do as much preparation as possible to schedule content, emails, podcasts, and newsletters for at least two months after the baby was born, so nobody would know if I had to take time off.
At seven months, I started spending five hours a week creating content that I scheduled to go live in February, March, and April. I wrote 20 newsletters, recorded 15 podcasts, and created more than 40 pieces of content for my social media channels.
I used free tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule content on certain dates, and I was able to schedule my newsletters and podcast episodes in advance using their hosting services (Substack and Libsyn). That way, if the baby came early or I needed to take time off, my content streams wouldn't be interrupted.
I didn't want to have to explain to people that I don't get maternity leave
To avoid that, I started to get strategic with my calendar. When people asked to schedule meetings or in-person services with me during those months (speaking engagements, workshops, or hire me to promote their brands on social media), I shared that my calendar was full and asked if we could move the timeline to after May.
Most people said yes, and that allowed me to secretly clear my schedule and start planning for months later in the year, when I felt I'd be more available and up for in-person work.
To be as proactive as possible, I also scheduled more than 35 emails to go out in March and April to past clients, brands, and other people I wanted to pitch opportunities to in order to secure them for later on in the year. That way, I will seem active and present, even when I'm taking days off to be a mom.
I realized it's better to be upfront and honest
After keeping this a secret for eight months and being able to keep business going as usual, booking new clients and generating as much income as I did the year before, I decided that I wanted to share my news publicly.
It was becoming more obvious in my physical appearance, on Zoom calls and in social posts. Plus, I felt confident by all the work I had done to be proactive with my business and content streams, and I was ready to take a risk and tell my professional network. I also shared on social media that a big reason why I kept it a secret was because I was scared of losing business.
Since sharing the news, I've only received positive feedback from clients and followers
I booked a paid speaking opportunity for May, was able to leverage the news to work with new baby brands to advertise their products, and have people reaching out sharing their own stories of why they too felt like they had to hide their pregnancy for work.
I don't regret hiding my pregnancy for eight months, but I do wonder if being honest at the start would've cost me business or not. As a female entrepreneur, that just wasn't a risk I was willing to take.
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