You know me as a strong-willed real estate guru, a go-getter and business diva who works hard and is proud of the company I built. So, imagine nine months ago when I found out I was pregnant! It was a rollercoaster of emotions. At first, to be honest, I was scared. After all, being responsible for another human life is like nothing I had ever done before. Then my natural instincts kicked in, and I knew I would be able to get through this just as I have overcome all the adversities in my life.

Fast-forward to now, 39 weeks into my pregnancy, and not only has this been an unbelievable learning experience, but the journey of being pregnant has made me a better businesswoman, too. Here’s what I learned these last nine months:

You need to listen to others, but trust your instincts.

During my pregnancy, I had an extensive network of friends and family to rely on who offered all kinds of great advice and wisdom. Ultimately, however, it was up to me to decide who to listen to and when to trust my own instincts.

The same is true in business. It’s important to build a great team around you. Just as my friends and family offered me some wonderful pregnancy advice, my team at my company is always there for me as well. Sometimes they know best and I have complete trust in them. Every so often, however, my gut instincts take over and I have to follow my heart. Sometimes you need to rely on your team. Other times, you have to do what you believe is correct.

Forget perfect.

Let’s face it: most women are very conscious about their bodies, and I’m certainly one of them. With that said, focusing on being “perfect” is simply exhausting and is the furthest thing from being my authentic self. What I learned and what I now share with other women is to embrace your new “imperfections.” These changes are simply part of nature and necessary to bringing this new life into the world.

In business, I always like to look my best. I like to dress in a way that exudes power and confidence, but still showcase my personality. My pregnancy has definitely helped me realize that if my makeup isn’t perfect one morning, or if my skirt has a wrinkle in it, that’s OK. Perfectionism is more of a hindrance than an ally because it can take away from what’s important — being true to yourself. People don’t want perfect, they want real.

Putting yourself first isn’t being selfish.

During your pregnancy, there will be plenty of times when you have to put your own needs first and tune out the noise of everything around you. When you’re pregnant, don’t consider this a selfish act and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

The same holds true in business. There are plenty of times as the woman behind your operation that you have to put yourself first, and that’s perfectly OK. The truth is, you can’t take care of something as important as your business until you learn to take care of yourself first. I’m the root of my business and life, and if I’m not getting the nutrients first, the rest of me won’t survive — and neither will anything I support, whether it be a family or a business. Stop feeling guilty for saying “no” to some people and opportunities. Focusing on your needs first and foremost will have a positive effect on your business as it will have a “trickle down effect” that will ensure stability and longevity.

You will change.

Pregnancy may radically change you, and that’s OK. Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll see the magnitude of preparation that’s now required to do even simple tasks. Planning ahead is something you’ll carry over into motherhood and beyond. You’ll learn how to prioritize the most important aspects of life. You may become a more tolerant, empathetic person. Many women grow to exhibit more kindness and generosity than ever before.

The experience of being pregnant may also change you in business, too. Use it to your advantage and let it guide your business decisions. Among many things, I’ve learned how to be more patient, but at the same time realize now more than ever the importance of structure and time blocking in my business and in life.

Change is hard. Fighting change is harder. If what you learned during pregnancy feels right in your business, just go with it.

You will have more gratitude.

Pregnancy will teach you to appreciate everything you have. Not every woman has the ability to bear children. There are countless women who would do anything to be in your shoes.

This is perhaps one of the most important lessons that will carry over into your business. How many times do we tend to get wrapped up in the problems, delays, obstacles and other challenges of our companies? Imagine how far a little gratitude can take you as a business owner. When you start to appreciate your employees, your partnerships, your vendors and all the people who have helped you get to where you are in business today, you’ll attract more great opportunities. You’ll also feel much more satisfied and fulfilled.

Your relationships will become stronger.

While pregnant, the bonds with your family may grow stronger. You may even gain some newfound respect for your own mother and recognize everything she went through and sacrificed when she had you.

In business, your relationships will also strengthen. You’ll remember the people who helped get you to where you are today. You will connect more with your team on a more personal level, get to know their wants and needs, and a mutual respect will blossom like never before. You may even seek to reach out to one-time competitors and focus more on collaboration.

You will learn to let go.

When you’re pregnant, you will quickly learn to accept that you’re not always in control. This was a tough lesson for me personally, as I’m a type-A personality. Not every pregnancy goes perfectly smooth. Life can be fragile, and there’s always a possibility for complications.

The same is true for business. I’ve struggled with being the face of my company and wanting to be involved in absolutely everything. That’s neither healthy nor realistic. Your pregnancy will help you learn to delegate in your business and rely more on your employees. You’ll learn to trust and feel reassured knowing they have your back and seek the same level of success as you.

The Takeaway

Pregnancy is a wonderful gift full of opportunities to learn and grow. The experience will change you and undoubtedly make you a better person. Don’t let these important lessons go to waste. Apply them to your professional life. I promise you the upside is tremendous, and you will grow and thrive like never before. As challenging as the last nine months have been, I wouldn’t trade them for the world because of everything I learned along the way.