It's working for Denise Stern, Founder and CEO of Let Mommy Sleep
I truly thought my experience and difficulty caring for my 3 babies was an odd exception. After opening the business to help other parents I heard hundreds of stories of families who have fallen through the cracks – they’re not sick enough to warrant health insurance stepping in, but they’re not really thriving either, or moms who thought they had the baby blues but were actually experiencing a medical emergency.
I would tell myself to take a breath and remember to just get through the moment every time I get into a situation where the baby isn’t doing what she’s “supposed to” be doing. As adults we are used to controlling our environment but despite what millions of parenting blogs say, we need to let go an understand that our babies might not follow our perfectly laid out schedule…and that’s okay!
It was a reaction for sure! Because I had very high blood pressure after my twins were born, I was ordered on bedrest. Now this was pretty ridiculous because I was a recovering mother with 2 newborns, a young toddler and a husband who had to go back to work. Even with my mom pitching in, it was clear we had to hire help to navigate this time.
This experience starkly illustrated the need for qualified care and I really felt called to start Let Mommy Sleep because I thought there might be a few other families like mine that needed help. It turned out there were more than a few…there are thousands of families quietly in need of postpartum help every day.
Not at all! I was all set to be a stay-at-home mom and then maybe get a 9-5 job in PR when the kids started school.
I truly thought my experience and difficulty caring for my 3 babies was an odd exception. After opening the business to help other parents I heard hundreds of stories of families who have fallen through the cracks – they’re not sick enough to warrant health insurance stepping in, but they’re not really thriving either, or moms who thought they had the baby blues but were actually experiencing a medical emergency. When I learned all this, I knew we had to expand the service.
The postpartum period is one of the most vulnerable periods in a human’s life and yet there’s very little actual support during this period. Families are spread out, communities are often busy and bustling and new moms are often given the message that they’re doing it wrong. It’s not okay.
Right now we’re in 10 markets and the goal is to have 50 locations. The longer term goal is to make 1-2 hour postpartum home visits accessible via health insurance coverage which would allow us to expand into even more markets.
Anyone who works in postpartum or women’s health will tell you that “women’s issues” aren’t really seen as important in our country. When the public hears about maternal health, it’s not because Congress is addressing it or a large group has decided to bring awareness, it’s almost always because a celebrity has decided to share her personal health horror story.
While positive steps are being taken to recognize postpartum care on government and health insurance level and the work toward it is obviously vital, it’s clear that private business is a quick route to getting our in-home maternal health solution to families.
The honest answer is that I’ve made peace with having a really long to-do list where some things don’t get done at work. Family always comes first. I joke-but-not-really that the progress of Let Mommy Sleep would be much further along if I didn’t insist on being the room mom.
I do all the boring stuff- eat lots of vegetables, drink lots of water and exercise every day. As you might guess, I prioritize sleep as well.
My biggest challenge was not having confidence in the early days. Like many new parents I’d never really held a newborn so in addition to the regular fear one gets when leaving the hospital for the first time, I became worried and sad because I didn’t seem to be measuring up to what a new mom was “supposed to” be doing but it turns out I was just…normal.
Make sure your partners get themselves educated in the signs of postpartum depression, the basics of care and typical behavior of a newborn. It’s up to the partners to look out for birthing moms who may be experiencing mental or physical difficulty so they need to be educated on what’s normal in the perinatal phase vs when to call a doctor.
For example, breastfeeding moms don’t need to hear But he just ate! or He’s on you constantly! from their partner when it’s absolutely normal for a newborn to nurse around the clock.
I made the excellent decision to hire Joy Becker, LPN to help with administrative work and hiring caregivers in the early days of LMS. Joy became someone I could lean on to run things if I ever needed to step away – any solo business owners out there, know this is invaluable!- Joy now owns her own franchise and is a living example of what we call the circle of success.
My 3 kids are also awesome cheerleaders and my husband of course!
I’m sad to say I didn’t have a mentor when I began, but I did find fellowship and support from the small business owners and bloggers who came up at the same time as I did. We began before social media was the force that it is now so it was very exciting to see brands emerge organically and help each other through the unchartered waters of starting a business with social media as a tool.
When we take on new franchisees, I lead the initial and ongoing training process so my team and I teach the new partners how to run our business, but also mentor in entrepreneurship as a whole.
As a working parent, I never expected multitasking would be so hard! Parents are supposed to be expert multitaskers, aren’t we?! I’ve learned that having too many plates spinning at once inevitably leads to avoidable mistakes. Accomplishing All The Things seems like it would take longer when you only do one at a time but for me, moving too quickly through a few things at once usually means I have to go back and correct something