It's Working Project

“I live and breathe babies, but even I was too proud to ask for help.”

A labor and delivery nurse and CEO of Healthy Women learned to changed her routine when her son was born early.


“I live and breathe babies, but even I was too proud to ask for help,” said Beth Battaglino, a labor and delivery nurse and CEO of Healthy Women, the leading national women’s health organization. “I had a c-section,” she explained. “It threw me for a loop.” Her son, Conor, was born a couple days shy of 36 weeks and spent five days in the hospital.

“It was tough,” Beth said of the experience.  “I was so fortunate because I knew everyone who was taking care of him and knew he was in the best hands possible. In retrospect, it allowed me to go home and sleep and heal.”

Beth focused her energy on pumping. “I couldn’t breastfeed with a preemie baby. Conor was so small, a couple sucks would exhaust him. I had to focus on trying to pump and get that milk to the hospital so he could have it. The pumping wasn’t as successful as it could have been because you’re under so much stress.”

But once he came home, Conor thrived. And Beth began thinking about her own transition back to work.  She had planned to take three months off, but began taking calls and checking emails after the second month. “I needed to get back to work after three months,” she explained. “It’s really hard to take three months completely off when you’re at the head of the company. Strategy meetings, board meetings, these things you can’t disappear from. My husband could take paternity leave, which was really helpful. The 3-month timeline was great, six months would have been fantastic.”

She credits her team and supportive board of directors with easing her transition back. “It’s hard,” she said. “The baby is not sleeping during the night, you’re trying to figure out how to take care of the baby and run a company on no sleep. But women do it all the time.”

And Beth adjusted her own views about what a working mom would mean for her own day-to-day schedule. “You realize that everything is never going to be perfect again. When you don’t have kids, you are on top of your schedule, you’re at meetings on time. Now, your time is not your own, your days aren’t going to be perfectly orchestrated as they were prior to a baby. That is okay, that is acceptable, and you rise to the challenge. As much as you plan out your days, there is always a curveball and you learn how to manage time.”

For Beth, she credits being a mom with making her a more compassionate person and better CEO. “I realize how lucky I am, I definitely understand the challenges that moms have. Moms that have more than one baby, the things that just happen day-to-day that you have no control of,” she said. “It’s made me a better leader and a better person.”