How I navigated my pregnancy as a Series A founder
The news of Emily Weiss moving to the role of chairwoman of Glossier from her former position as CEO was riddled with gender biases in how it was covered by the media.
Even the more balanced coverage still highlighted that she is currently pregnant, as if it inevitably played a factor in her decision, even though Weiss’ official statement on the matter made no mention of family, pregnancy or children.
There certainly has been progress in recent years, but we cannot deny that we still harbor biases and assumptions about pregnant women in business. “How much time off will they take?” “Are they going to come back?” “Will they work as hard as they did before?” “Who’s going to watch their baby?”
I learned I was pregnant a few weeks after my health tech company raised a $14 million Series A in January 2021. And as someone who had previously experienced the trauma of a miscarriage, I had utterly thrown myself into my other baby — my company. The news of another pregnancy meant I needed to take care of myself and my company in a new way.
While the experience wildly varies and there is no ‘correct’ path to take, I want to share what worked for me while I was a pregnant founder and CEO. Kelsey Mellard
While the experience wildly varies from woman to woman, and there is no “correct” path to take, I want to share what worked for me while I was a pregnant founder and CEO. Women come up to me at conferences or catch me at events seeking specific and actionable advice, so I’m here to share what worked for me.
First and foremost, I decided to be honest with my investors and not delay the news or withhold any information. I hadn’t even told some of my family before I chose to tell my investors — I needed to share the news. Going into the call, I was incredibly nervous, so I decided to not begin with any small talk. My first words were: “I’m excited to share that George and I are having a baby.”
I am lucky enough to have chosen partners like Bryan Roberts and Dr. Bob Kocher from Venrock, Stephen Renfro at Optum Ventures, Hunter Walk at Homebrew and the team at First Round Capital, and they all were incredibly supportive. In the middle of the pandemic, when things looked so bleak, their faces lit up when they heard the news.
Investors are your business partners; they are people with whom you’ll have a relationship that’ll last several years, so it’s important to understand their stance on topics outside of work before you take a check. My investors had chosen to bet on me. So now, me having a baby was going to become part of our new game plan, and they understood that.