Motherhood has made me a lot more efficient. The first thing I did after having my son, Theo, was to schedule most meetings for 30 minutes as opposed to an hour.
Balancing work and spending time with Theo is definitely my biggest challenge. My company, Maven, is also my baby and there is never enough time in the day for both of them!
I was surprised at how much work those first 4 months after having a baby are, for women specifically – and how little support there is from the healthcare system or corporate America.
I think it’s important and overdue that we’re having a national conversation around paid leave and about making sure fathers get paternity leave. But we also can’t forget that women’s health issues in the postpartum period also need to be better addressed. Personally, I had a lot of separation anxiety around leaving my son at first and I had all the support in the world. I also started traveling again at around 8 weeks, with Theo, while I was still breastfeeding. I couldn’t believe how many conference centers at large hotel chains didn’t offer pumping rooms.
Prior to launching Maven, I worked as a journalist in various roles for the first six years of my career – I did everything from reading fiction submissions at the Paris Review to helping former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson write his memoirs about the financial crisis. I eventually became a business reporter for The Economist, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal. After trying to start a business inspired by one of my articles, I realized how natural entrepreneurship felt, but I needed a bridge to entrepreneurship – which led me to get a job in venture capital at Index Ventures in London.
The inspiration to start Maven came off the back of that experience in venture capital. As a woman with a lot of friends who started having kids, I saw first-hand the gaps in coverage in women’s healthcare when it comes to starting a family. When I started meeting with digital health businesses, I realized quickly that the healthcare consumer is predominantly female, and yet there were so few products I saw that were built for the female customer. Women have different health needs than men and navigate the system differently. When I eventually had my son, I relied heavily on our practitioner network to guide me through the experience.
Eventually, we at Maven built a 15-month maternity program that we sell to employers so they can give their new parents a better-supported maternity and postpartum experience. A lot of this program – which features on-demand video access to a network of practitioners from OB-GYNs to sleep coaches to therapists – was built based on my own experiences and things we heard from the Maven community. We’re always looking for ways to make it even better – because the experiences that women have with motherhood are so different.
Life is a lot more fun these days, now that I’m a mom.
I’ve discovered that I have a strong maternal instinct – a lot of my friends say they’re surprised at that. Me too, sometimes! But motherhood has allowed me to experience love in an entirely new way. The support and love my child receives from my friends and family has been so inspiring. In our very individual age, it’s amazing to see communities come together when children are born.
Katherine Ryder is the founder and CEO of Maven, the digital clinic for women. You can connect to Katherine by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.