Early to rise or night owl?: How more mamas are rocking careers on their own schedules

First: ladies, let’s talk PUMPING.

Not as in, “Pump up the jam,” though that would spectacularly fun, but as in, pump up the boobie milk. 85% of mothers in the U.S. pump at some point (source.), and, let’s be honest mamas, it can be completely unglamorous and inconvenient.


But, if you want to return to the workforce, or enjoy a few hours away from your baby, a breast pump is pretty much a necessity.

Current models are loud, have bottles that hang off the end of your breasts (as if you needed another reason to feel cow-like), and are the furthest thing from discreet.

Enter Babyation, a brand committed to creating a discreet, quiet breast pump. After all, "Shouldn't the breast pump be as elegant as an iPhone and quiet as a Prius by now?"

Ahem—we agree.

Sam Rudolph, co-founder of Babyation, came up with the idea of making a smart breast pump before she and her husband even had babies. It was natural for her—Sam couldn’t understand why the technology hadn’t evolved in so long. It seemed ridiculous!

Now, with an 18-month old son of her own, she’s realized that running a business with a baby is a whole different ball game.

Read on to discover 5 things Sam didn’t know about being a mom + running a killer business at the same time—

In Sam’s own words:

1. I’m better at work because I’m a mom.

Those good mommy hormones definitely relaxed me! I’m more patient, and I think my communication skills have improved.

I have less time than I did before my son Exton was born, but that also means I have less time to waste.

Now, I’m smarter in how I prioritize.

During the really busy weeks, I sometimes think about how much easier things would be if I were building this company pre-baby. And while my life would be undoubtedly less chaotic, the company is better because I’m a mom. It’s impossible to fully solve the problem if you haven’t experienced the need first-hand.

2. You need to find your motivation.

Running a startup is hard, and raising a toddler is hard, and doing them at the same time takes a special kind of crazy! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a privilege to do what I’m doing, and I couldn’t do it without our gifted team.

Every day, we hear from moms who tell us how our breast pump will make their lives easier or better. Those emails motivate us to push ourselves harder. They inspire us to stay up later, to work harder and to do whatever we can to make this business successful.

3. 4 am is a perfectly acceptable time to be working

We live in a 24/7 world. As far as I’m concerned, unless you’re working on a shift or something that is tied to an event/meeting with a specific start time, there is no good or bad time to be working—they’re all up for grabs!

That also means that, in my book, it’s acceptable to take time for the things that are important to you…as long as you’re getting your work done. My first job out of college was at ESPN, and I worked the 5pm-2am shift for years. That really set my internal clock, and because of that, I’ve never been an early riser. I’m usually home for my son’s bedtime, and then I basically put in almost another full workday. It’s great—I’m usually trading emails with various team members until about midnight, and then I turn my attention to projects or planning. It’s quiet, and I can start ticking things off my to-do list.

The best part about 4am is that it allows me to overlap with both the night owls and the early risers, and it’s really accommodating for time zones across the world!

4. Skills translate!

Even though Babyation and ESPN seem very different, it’s amazing how many similarities there are. Both are focused on serving their audiences and on building a strong brand. Both leverage technology to create incredible products and experiences. And both require talented multi-disciplinary teams and subject matter experts on a daily basis.

Just because you haven’t yet done something doesn’t mean you aren’t imminently qualified to do it. It just means that you need to understand how your past experiences can contribute to your future successes.

5. The tribe of mom bosses is real.

One of the biggest surprises for me has been that there is a real sisterhood in entrepreneurship, especially among female founders. In the corporate world, we hear so many stories about how women don’t pull each other up, and my experience with Babyation has been the complete opposite. I think it’s one of the unsung stories in the startup world, and it’s so important.

Beyond other founders, I’ve been so impressed by the women I’ve met since we began this company. They are intelligent, insightful, helpful, and most importantly, willing to share their expertise and offer advice. Strangers have given their time, their networks and their skills to help us be successful. It really does take a village.

One last thought…

You do you.

There is so much judgment around moms and women in general…especially around the topic of work. I’m a firm believer in doing what’s right for you. I think that if we’re capable of raising another human being, then we are capable of making the decisions that are right for us.

Want more from Sam?

She was lovely enough to answer five “Motherly” questions for us!

How do you make your mornings run smoothly?

Sam Rudolph: Coffee! But I’m afraid I don’t have great advice beyond caffeine. Neither my husband, Jared, nor I are morning people, so getting out the door is always a struggle. We’re lucky in that we can normally stagger when we leave, so we have a little buffer. One of us can get ready, while the other feeds and dresses Exton. Then we switch. We’ve gotten spoiled; it’s definitely dicey if one of us has an early meeting!

The life hack or tip that has changed my life...

Sam Rudolph: I’m a big fan of Asana to help manage tasks, projects and calendars. I resisted it for a long time, but it really does help with workflow.

What superpower have you discovered as a mom?

Sam Rudolph: I make breastmilk! I’m constantly amazed that my body creates food for another human being. I keep meaning to create a quote for Instagram that says “I make milk. What’s your super power?” I think this article might be just the push I need to actually do it!

This quote inspires me...

“For every obstacle, there is a solution: over, under, around, or through.”

Sam Rudolph: This has been my mantra since high school, and I just love it. Recently though, I’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack a lot, and another quote has resonated:

“When you knock me down, I get the — back up again.”

I think resilience is an underrated quality. We all have bad days, setbacks and disappointments. How we react and respond is really defining.

To me "motherly" means…

Sam Rudolph: Nurturing others as they discover and become their best selves.

Haley Campbell is the founder of Beluga Baby and creator of the ultimate bamboo baby carrier. She is a regular contributor to Motherly and is an avid advocate for entrepreneurs, and for the new generation of mothers making the world their own.

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