There's a little-spoken-about reality among female founders: The life stage at which women are starting companies happens to coincide, for many, with the time they also  decide to have a baby.

According to Inc. and Fast Company's 2018 State of Women and Entrepreneurship survey, 63 percent of female founders have kids, and 13 percent of those plan to have more. Twenty percent of the ones who aren't mothers intend to have kids.

Being an entrepreneur and having a baby is inspiring--but messy. Trying to get pregnant can be emotionally excruciating. Pregnancy messes with your hormones. Childbirth wrecks your body. All this, while you also happen to be running a company. These entrepreneurs on Inc.'s Female Founders 100 open up about everything from IVF and "pregnancy brain" to pumping between investor meetings.

Amy Jain 

Co-founder and CEO of BaubleBar, a fashion accessories company.

Even more challenging than running a company with kids was being pregnant. I had hyperemesis, which is extreme morning sickness. I thought it was really bad with Chloe, and then I had it with Sienna and realized it was a breeze with Chloe. With Sienna, it stopped at 16 weeks. With Chloe, it lasted about 20 weeks.

I couldn't function. I had nausea and couldn't keep food or liquids down. I was throwing up a lot throughout the day. I lost weight and nutrients. It has a snowball effect.

The people who got me through it were my team, whom I let know pretty early on that I had hyperemesis. I also had really bad pregnancy brain, so I would spout gibberish like, "Left, tree, blue," and they'd be like, "Amy wants us to run an analysis if we're going to open a retail store in Dallas." And they would just do it.

At one point, I couldn't get out of bed for weeks. I was in and out of the hospital, and my team just saved me. I developed a bond with the people who basically ran this company that will never, ever go away. --As told to Emily Canal

Nichole Mustard

Co-founder and chief revenue officer of Credit Karma, a personal finance site with a $4 billion valuation and $682 million in annual revenue.

Luckily, I'm in a relationship structure that has some optionality. We were living in Boston when Dawn got pregnant, and we had Mason in February 2004. It became legal in Massachusetts that May to get married, and by June, we were married. For the second child, I raised my hand and said, "I'll do this." Dawn said, "No, you're not going to do this, because then I'm gonna have to rub your feet and give backrubs, so I'm gonna have the baby. Then if you want more kids, you do it."

We were trying for over 18 months and on that roller coaster of ups and downs every month. When the oppor­tunity with Credit Karma came along, we decided to stop until we got resettled in the San Francisco area. I don't know if we were just more relaxed or just lucky, but Dawn got pregnant.

The timing was not good for me to carry the third child because when you're in a startup, there are all kinds of chaos and having babies is just one more thing. We didn't want to slow down the family and we didn't want to slow down with the work. Dawn was more than willing to go for number three, and I think we were all surprised that it was three and four.

I often say, if you're going to write a book about my life, you should just get my cell phone and see what's been texted to me: missing the first steps or missing the first lost tooth. Missing all of these moments means working really hard to create different moments for me with each of the kids so that we, too, have something special.

Two years ago, we changed our maternity and paternity benefits to give our team members, male and female, three months paid time off, with four additional weeks for moms.

I always joke that I get a year and a half off at some point in time to make up for those bonding moments that I missed with my kids when they were babies. But I think the tradeoffs that you make as a founder are tradeoffs that you chose. --As told to Maria Aspan

Lynn Jurich​

Co-founder and CEO of Sunrun, the country's largest provider of residential solar power, which has a market valuation of about $1.5 billion.

We had raised $250 million in venture capital, and we were not yet cash-flow positive. It was 2015, and the right time for the IPO. Unfortunately, that coincided with the birth of my first baby.

Blythe was born on June 13. The IPO date was August 5. I didn't consider waiting, because the IPO market can be open one day and shut the next. We started the investor road show when Blythe was 5 weeks old. I brought my mother and a baby nurse with me. All that support and the ability to afford child care are not available to all women.

A road show is grueling, and I was nursing throughout the whole thing. I'd had a few advisers caution me that doing a road show was one of the hardest experiences of their lives--and most founders don't have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed a baby. We went to 30 cities. The investors didn't know I had the baby with me. I traveled with a hospital-grade pump in a plastic case. Sometimes, I'd have to peel away and pump in a hedge-fund conference room. I walked into one of the first meetings and the investor pointed at the case and said, "What do you have in there? A solar panel?" I said, "No, a breast pump." The look on his face was hilarious. --As told to Kimberly Weisul

Kathryn Petralia

Co-founder and president of Kabbage, a small-business online lender that did more than $200 million in revenue last year.

I was 21 and Mark was 22 when we got married. We waited eight years to have a kid, and when we did, we wanted one of us to be at home--we didn't really care who it was. We joke that we had a race to see who could make the least amount of money and I lost. Mark was a day trader and he's been an at-home parent since 2000.

We were proud parents of an only child. But when Alex was in his last year of middle school, Mark was getting kind of sad. I was like, "Well, what if we had another kid?" And he said, "I think I like that idea."

I'm old--I was 46 at the time--so we had to use some science to make that work.

When Luca was 2 weeks old, he went on a nursing strike and he never picked it up again. So I was exclusively pumping, and that is pretty challenging. I did learn that every airport has its own rules. Sometimes they want you to take every single container or bag of milk out so they can test each one with a wand. Sometimes they'd want to stick them in the machine. When I was in India for a week, I had to throw all that milk away. That's just painful. Crying over spilled milk is a thing.

Since I went through the IVF process, I have taken to telling women under 35: Freeze your eggs. Because even if you think you don't want to have a baby, you might change your mind, and IVF gives you a lot of options. If I can gestate a baby at 46, anybody can. --As told to M.A.

Frida Polli

Co-founder and CEO of Pymetrics, an A.I.-powered recruiting software company whose clients include Unilever, Accenture, and Tesla.

I was a single mother raising my 6-year-old daughter, Ele, when I decided to start my company. I'll never forget my dad pulling me aside and being like, "Are you sure you want to do this? You have a lot on your plate already." But I was passionate about it. I didn't want to look back in five or 10 years and regret not having tried it. And I wanted to inspire my daughter to pursue her dreams.

When you're a parent, child care issues come up all the time. When you're a single parent, you don't have a spouse, so you can be like, "Hey, by the way ... " One time, I had to bring Ele to an investor meeting. I remember walking in and saying, "Here she is--the newest member of the Pymetrics team." I'm sure the whole thing would have been a turnoff for some investors. Luckily, they rolled with it. It was an endearing moment, and I think it kind of broke the ice. They ended up investing.

When we were launching, I couldn't stay until 10, 11, 12 at night when the engineers were all working. I couldn't just not see my daughter for a month. I doubt anyone believes this anymore, but I think in those early days people questioned whether I was committed.

My co-founder left the company last year, and I had a really rough time with it. I was going through all this self-doubt--can I even do this by myself? I'm a pretty open and emotional person, and one night I was crying. Ele came up to me and said, "Mom, are you crying about Julie leaving? It's gonna be OK. You're gonna do great." It was the craziest thing that she knew what it was about and that she had such faith that things were going to be fine. It means she sees how much passion I have for the company and how much it means to me. I'm glad I'm teaching her that I have something I love so much. Hopefully that rubs off on her. --As told to Kevin J. Ryan

Published on: Oct 15, 2018