“How Natural Childbirth Prepared Me to Run A Start-Up,” by We Are Rosie CEO Stephanie Nadi Olson
Seven years ago, I started on an unexpected journey that would change my life. Fortuitously, my husband and I watched a documentary about natural childbirth one evening. It was a compromise between his love of documentaries and my newly found obsession with babies. The documentary opened my eyes to this massive gap in my knowledge– birth. I had gotten so excited about the idea of having a baby that I had completely bypassed the journey of pregnancy and birth in my mind. Shortly after, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about natural birth, doulas, midwifery, the modern medical system, and on and on.
In those days, I was simply preparing to birth my future baby in an educated, thoughtful way. I didn’t realize I was laying the groundwork for changing the course of my personal and professional life.
Natural childbirth is an interesting thing. Like modern work, it’s been largely over-complicated and requires allyship and advocating to change the current way of doing things. It requires research, planning, and more than anything, a mental shift. As I went through my pregnancy, I realized that to have a fearless birth experience, I had to de-program the stories in my head about what my body and mind were capable of. I’d never done that before – and it’s really hard.
Throughout the year-long process, I had to understand my own personal biases, reconnect with my body, and learn to trust my intuition to guide me. This is a lot of letting go for a type-A personality, but it was worth the work, without a doubt. Here are some things I learned on this journey.
Set Goals That Feel Too Big
I decided I wanted to have natural childbirth before I was pregnant. By nature, I’m a planner and a thinker. I knew that motherhood would be a transformative journey for me; I wanted to be physically and mentally present for it. Now that I’m on this side of it, I tell people that you have to prepare for a natural birth the way you would a marathon. It’s vital to give your body what it needs throughout the process. However, it’s also essential to retrain your mind, which can prove the more significant challenge. Ten months of pregnancy (I carried both of my kids to 42 weeks) still didn’t feel like enough time to undo everything society had shown me about what a woman’s body was truly capable of achieving. We’ve been flooded with pop-cultural images of women screaming in pain on TV, or not given a choice to birth naturally, or being told they “just can’t do it.”
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” I couldn’t agree more. Those images and voices (even if they are our own) are wrong. We can do it. Most importantly, we have everything we need to succeed. The same can be said about launching a new business. I genuinely believe that we are equipped to attain anything we set our minds to, so set those goals that feel too big and go after them.
I write this with compassion for all women, knowing that natural childbirth is not always an option, knowing that the process is very personal and varies for every mother. This was my personal journey.
To train my mind for what lay ahead, I listened to a guided meditation made specifically for childbirth prep each night before I fell asleep. The meditation reinforced that my mind, body, and baby were capable of a healthy, natural birth. It was my first foray into meditation, and I loved it. I even listened to a guided meditation during childbirth. The biggest gift meditation gave me? Learning how important it is to just breathe, no matter how difficult or challenging things got. I use guided meditation to this day to help give me the clarity and confidence to turn my business vision into a reality.
Much like childbirth, there’s typically no way around a business challenge. Our only way out is through, making it essential to embrace what’s tough, and raw, and real throughout the journey. It’s just part of the deal. As a result, I shifted my perspective to come at, and eventually through, every struggle I encountered. I reframed “pain” and “contractions” as intensity and “pressure.” I learned to view each pressure wave as a necessary part of the process that was bringing me closer to the baby. When my mind embraced that fact, I wasn’t tense – I actually welcomed the intensity, as I knew it was part of the process.
Perspective also plays a vital role in the daily operations of a business. Reframe words like business “disaster” and “catastrophe” that derail progress. Instead, focus on the opportunity for growth with every unexpected disruption. Learning to navigate through marketplace turbulence or business discomfort is a necessary part of the process that brings you closer to your organization’s goal and vision.
Trust Your Intuition
Part of natural birth is creating the space in your mind to listen to your body. I asked to be left alone with lights off when I went into labor and told my birth team when it was time to push. As women, we have so many outside voices continuously competing for our attention that we sometimes forget that we know what’s best for us, for our bodies, for our babies, and for our business. Yes, it’s crucial to build our team, find trusted mentors, and learn from others who have gone before us. However, it’s also essential to find your inner voice and listen to it, firmly owning the belief that you are your own best advocate.
Failure is Not an Option
I had a home birth with my second daughter that included two midwives, a doula, my mother, and my husband and oldest daughter. When you choose to do a home birth, you always have a backup plan to move to a hospital if needed – but in my mind, that just wasn’t an option. I was committed to natural, drug-free birth and told myself that was how it would be from the moment I got pregnant.
Giving birth is one of the most freeing and rewarding things I’ve ever done. It pushed me to the very limits of my mental and physical capacity. The process also showed me that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought – and so much more than what society would have you believe women’s bodies can do. I bring this knowledge and tenacity with me every day at We Are Rosie. Put simply: failure is not an option. I am committed to supporting our corporate vision as well as our crew of brilliant freelancers as we go forth to redefine the existing business model of how innovative and compelling media work gets done.
About the Author
Stephanie Nadi Olson founded We Are Rosie from a genuine realization of what it feels like to “not belong.” As a young mother with a career and also as a daughter of an immigrant parent of color, she knew what it felt like to be overlooked and marginalized. Because of this, she wanted to create a home and opportunity for people who often feel discounted. We Are Rosie is an extension of the work she has done with refugees her entire life and her soul’s calling to create a better way to do business. Stephanie has worked closely with big brands and major tech companies her entire career, so she has a unique 360 view of industry practices and its need for transformation.