Emily Ellis shares her experiences of following her passion to support other parents after the birth of her own children.
Hi, I’m Emily, Mummy to 3 boys and founder of WorkBabyLife.
My background is almost two decades in the corporate world, predominantly at Mars Inc. across a variety of sales and marketing roles. My eldest son’s birth in 2013 was a bit of an epiphany moment, that changed my life completely. He was born at home in a pool with two wonderful midwives my mum and husband supporting me. It wasn’t perfect (I suffered a third degree tear) but it was a hugely positive and empowering experience. Sadly most of the parents I met at baby groups told very different stories.
Despite the positive birth experience, I had found my pregnancy and the early days of parenting an incredibly anxious time. On my return to work, I was unprepared for how challenging balancing my parenting and professional roles would be. It was these experiences and how I overcame them that set me off on a journey of wanting to support other parents. When my second son was born in 2018, this desire grew even stronger. The need to work more flexibly around my family had also grown.
I trained to teach pregnancy, postnatal and baby yoga. Over the past 4 years I have supported hundreds of families on their journeys into and through the early days of parenting. I loved doing something I felt so passionate about and the ability to choose my own hours around my children was fantastic, so I left the corporate world in 2019.
Having my own business certainly isn’t always easy. Although the flexibility has been wonderful, I found it hard to switch off and have had to work hard to create boundaries between home and work. I feel strongly about making a difference, so I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself at times. It can be lonely, and I learnt that having the support of a business coach and other small businesses owners is really valuable. There have been a few curve balls such as finding out I was expecting my third son six months into year one of business. Financially, it has had challenging moments, particularly when the pandemic first hit and I had to literally shut my business down over night. I fell through every loophole and received no government support at all. But getting through these makes me even more proud of what I have achieved.
My advice to anyone starting a business is to be clear on your why? That is what motivates you and keeps you going through challenges.
My ‘Why’ was to work flexibly around my children but also to support other parents on their journeys. The pandemic had created fear, uncertainty and isolation, parents of lockdown babies needed support more than ever, so I couldn’t give up. I started running groups online.
The more families I supported, one of the things I began to notice was that it wasn’t the newborn phase that was the most challenging. It was in fact the return to work after maternity/parental leave that was the most difficult transition. I discovered the stats backed up what I was seeing: 9 out of 10 mothers faced difficulties in returning to work, with 1 in 5 finding it necessary to leave employment altogether (1). This reinforces the gender pay gap, I was horrified to learn, on average, by the time a women’s child turns twelve, she will earn a third less than her childless counterparts (dubbed the Motherhood penalty), yet men who have children earn more as they are seen as a safe pair of hands (the fatherhood bonus)(2)!
The reasons behind these stats are complex but a common factor is lack of support.
From what I was seeing, the pandemic had exacerbated the already awful perinatal mental health stats, which were, at least 1 in 4 mums and 1 in 10 dads suffering some sort of pre or postnatal depression or anxiety. I was aware that 'wellbeing' had become a buzz word in businesses. Labour shortages were a thing and inflation was rising. This was not a time for businesses to be losing their staff. I saw an opportunity.
Hence WorkBabyLife was born at the end of 2020, combining wellbeing (yoga based sessions) with coaching to create an effective parent support programme. The programme helps businesses retain valuable employees reducing the costs of recruiting and retraining staff and maintaining their female talent pipeline. Firms where at least one-third of the bosses are women have a profit margin more than 10 times greater than those without (3). Investing in women through this life stage pays back long term by retaining productive, loyal engaged staff. Deloitte found for every £1 spent by employers on mental health interventions, they’ll get £5 back in reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover (4).
I now work with several global businesses supporting their staff through this life stage. The results have been fantastic with 100% client retention and 100% of attendees stating they would recommend the programme to their colleagues.
I love what I do as it combines my experience in the corporate world with my passion for supporting parents holistically. I work with businesses who recognise that putting their people first pays back and I watch them grow as a result. I get to help other people lead a happier life. I do it on my own terms around my family. I honestly think I have the best job ever. When I am not working, or busy raising my three little gents, you will usually find me either doing yoga or having a glass of wine with friends. (It’s all about balance right!)
(1) DPG Research (2019) 9 in 10 women face problems returning to work after having children https://citywomen.co.uk/project-diamond/9-in-10-women-face-problems-returning-to-work-after-having-children/
(2) Pregnant Then Screwed: The Truth About the Motherhood Penalty and How to Fix It by Brearley, Joeli (ISBN: 9781471192678)
(3) BBC News ( 2020) Firms with more female executives 'perform better' https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53548704.
(4) E Hampson & A Jacob, (2020) Mental health and Employers
Hi, I’m Emily, Mummy to 3 boys and founder of WorkBabyLife.
I spent almost 2 decades in the corporate world, but after having my children I left to work flexibly around them and follow my passion of supporting other parents and ran yoga for pregnancy, new mums, and babies.
1 in 5 women find it necessary to leave the workforce after having a baby. This is costly to businesess in terms of recruitment and retraining, but also costly to women and widens the gender pay gap.
My mission is to make sure those that want to work are treated as a valuable asset and supported equally on their journey. My business has now evolved and I work with businesses providing a a programme of yoga and coaching to support their expectant and new parent staff.