The Health Diaries

How This Health Entrepreneur Balances the Working Mom Life

‘I’m a very low-maintenance eater. If I even eat lunch, that’s a good day.’

There are many ways to live a healthy life. The Health Diaries is a weekly series about the habits that keep notable people living well.

AAbout 80 percent of health care decisions for children are made by women, and Kate Ryder wants to make that responsibility easier. Ryder is the founder and CEO of Maven, a digital health company and family benefits platform founded in 2014 that’s focused on women’s and children’s health with an extra emphasis on supporting working mothers and new mothers returning to work.

Maven members have access to more than 1,400 providers — OB-GYNs, therapists, nutritionists, pediatricians, and more — through the company’s app and as a benefit through work. So far, it’s gaining traction. Maven announced in September 2018 that it had secured $27 million in Series B funding, bringing the company’s total funding to $42 million.

Ryder shares with Medium how she’s made the transition into life as a working mom and her predictions for women’s health care in 2019.

I’m up by at least 6 a.m. every day. I have two children in diapers, so I don’t really have a choice when I wake up. My son is shouting “mama!” or my daughter is getting up in her crib and fussing for a bottle. When I get up and help one of them, the other inevitably wakes up.

I try to not look at my phone until 8 a.m. I spend those two hours from 6 to 8 a.m. getting ready for work, getting the kids ready, reading books, and playing music. My son and I are known to have dance parties in the morning. I recently introduced him to the joys of Pitbull. His music taste is more folksy; he loves Carole King.

I head to work around 8:30 a.m. I stop at a coffee shop and grab orange juice, a latte, and a croissant. The only consistent thing about my workday is that everything is super back-to-back right now — I’m in a grind period. I’m usually in meetings from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The sad part about this is I often forget to eat lunch, but if I do, I grab a sandwich or a salad or rice bowl. I’m a very low-maintenance eater. If I even eat lunch, that’s a good day.

I don’t take any vitamins or supplements. I believe the best source of vitamins is from food. So many vitamins and supplements you just pee out. If I need iron, I’ll eat spinach. If I need a certain amount of vitamin C, I eat fruit.

It is a 2019 resolution to exercise three times a week. When I had time, I exercised a lot. I loved running. But I just don’t have time in my life for exercise right now.

I think it’s really important to remove technology when I’m home. It helps keep me present. Putting my phone out of sight and out of mind prevents me from mindlessly going on Instagram. At work, I go totally nuts with technology — it helps me to be efficient. I’m definitely the woman walking down the street with her head in her phone, texting and sending emails. I’m totally fine with that persona. But when I’m home with my family, I’m genuinely not.

Emotional health for me is having rich relationships with friends and family. All my friends are young mothers living this insane whirlwind of new parenthood. We have a group text together talking about it and checking in. I see my mom and dad all the time. A huge part of health and peace of mind for me is the amazing support network I have.

Motherhood has brought me down to five to six hours of sleep a night. I typically need six to seven hours a night, less than many people. Both of my babies are still learning to sleep and are teething.

Forty-three percent of women drop out of the workforce after having their first baby. One of Maven’s goals is to help new moms during this crazy transition to be successful at work and at home. We’re filling in major gaps in modern women’s health care, from infertility to miscarriage and post-partum care. We also launched a breast milk shipping service called Maven Milk.

One trend I predict for women’s health care in 2019 is big companies working to support working mothers. There’s greater recognition in corporate America of new moms and how to keep them in the workforce. They’re stepping up to support the physical, mental, and emotional journeys of women in their workforce — from making IVF and egg freezing part of mainstream benefits to aiding in adoption and surrogacy options as well.

Emily Shiffer is a freelance health writer and editor living in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared on Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention, and more.

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