I hid my pregnancy from clients and coworkers for 8 months. I don't regret it.


Upon discovering my pregnancy, I was overwhelmed with panic as I considered the prospect of raising a newborn while maintaining my career. As a self-employed individual for the past seven years, I have had various streams of income that require my direct involvement, from providing client services to creating social media content and newsletters. While being my own boss has its advantages, it lacks one important benefit - maternity leave - at least in my case. Although I could have taken a short-term disability policy that would have given me paid leave, I would have had to plan and pay into it for at least two years before getting pregnant, which I failed to do.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I had to continue working to maintain my income. With no paid leave and my partner only receiving one week off from his job, it was essential to keep my business going. Also, I did not want to give up what I have built up over the last seven years. I feared that clients might find replacements if I took a leave or disclosed my pregnancy. Although this fear was rooted in personal insecurity, I had observed the same happen to other female entrepreneurs. Therefore, I decided to pretend that I was not expecting until as long as possible, and managed to keep it a secret for eight months. Looking back, it was inspired by a friend who also hid her pregnancy a few years ago. She was advised by female mentors to keep it a secret from investors as they might not take her seriously as a mother and a businesswoman. Until today, she has never disclosed anything about her child to her professional circle.

As a pregnant woman, I wondered whether I should keep my pregnancy hidden from clients and potential opportunities. A friend shared that keeping her pregnancy a secret was one of the best decisions she made. Following her advice, I decided to keep my pregnancy under wraps so that I could still apply for roles and gigs and delay meeting them for interviews until after giving birth. Unfortunately, when I did share my pregnancy with a company, they decided not to work with me. Despite this setback, I booked a job as a TV host for an online show but spent days shopping for outfits that hid my pregnancy. However, I eventually became nervous that they would notice and decided to share the news via email. To my disappointment, the producer informed me a few hours later that they had decided to go in a different direction and would get in touch shortly.

After I shared the news of my pregnancy with a potential business partner, everything suddenly changed. Despite everything going smoothly up until that point, I never heard back from them again. While I cannot definitively prove that my pregnancy was the cause of their sudden silence, it certainly felt that way. From that moment on, I made a decision to keep my pregnancy private and not tell anyone else. I went back to my original plan and continued with business as usual but in a more sneaky way. I started wearing baggy clothes to in-person meetings and even made excuses to avoid meeting people in person altogether. Instead, I opted for Zoom calls. It was important for me to prepare as much as possible, especially since I wasn't planning to take any maternity leave. Weeks before the baby was born, I worked tirelessly to schedule content, emails, podcasts, and newsletters for at least two months after the baby's arrival. This way, nobody would be the wiser if I needed to take any time off.

At the age of seven months, I devoted five hours per week to crafting and scheduling content to be launched between February and April. This included creating 20 newsletters, recording 15 podcasts, and producing more than 40 social media posts. I employed free online tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to program content for specific release dates. Additionally, I was able to arrange my newsletters and podcast episodes in advance with the help of their hosting services (Substack and Libsyn). By doing so, if the baby arrived prematurely, or if I needed time off, I would not have to halt my content streams.  As I desired to avoid explaining to anyone that I wasn't entitled to maternity leave, I planned my calendar out methodically. For instance, when people requested meetings, speaking engagements, workshops, or hiring me for brand promotions on social media, I informed them that my schedule was already full and inquired if we could reschedule after May. Fortunately, most people were understanding, and this allowed me to secretly open up my schedule while preparing for upcoming tasks later in the year that I felt better equipped to tackle in person.

As a proactive business owner, I took steps to ensure my work continued smoothly while taking time off to be a mom. This included scheduling more than 35 emails to be sent to past clients and potential opportunities, making me seem active and present. After keeping my pregnancy a secret for eight months, I decided to share the news publicly. It was becoming increasingly obvious, and I felt confident in the work I had done to be proactive with my business. I also shared that I was scared of losing business by sharing my news. Luckily, I only received positive feedback from clients and followers. Since then, I was able to book a paid speaking opportunity and collaborate with new baby brands. While I wonder if being upfront at the start would have cost me business, as a female entrepreneur, I wasn't willing to take that risk. Ultimately, I don't regret my decision.

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