Thinx CEO on her pandemic pregnancy, caring for employees—and advice to prospective parents
Maria Molland is CEO of underwear and period care brand Thinx, best known for its subway ads and a taboo-breaking spot from BBDO called “MENstruation” that made headlines last year.
On this episode of the “Ad Block” podcast, Molland talks about facing a global pandemic while 9 months pregnant. With a weakened immune system, and knowing that she would need to deliver via Caesarean section, she has been hypervigilant about her health for months. “I started Googling ‘Wuhan’ and ‘pregnancy’ back in January,” she says.
Once the virus was reported in the U.S., Molland made up her mind to get out of New York City before the pandemic hit. A month ago, she rented a car and drove with her 3-year-old daughter and her cat across the country to her parents house in Sonoma, California, where she plans to spend the remainder of her pregnancy.
“I talked to my OB-GYN who was actually very anti my going to California,” Molland says, “because at the time California and Washington were actually the few states that had been impacted. But it just felt like it was going to take off, so I ignored her advice.”
She wore gloves whenever she left the car, and she wiped down every hotel room before unpacking. Instead of using public bathrooms, she used her daughter’s travel potty.
Now, her birth plan has been upended. She is seeing a new doctor and is planning to give birth in a California hospital. At her New York hospital, Mt. Sinai West, healthcare workers had been forced to use trash bags instead of PPE, and a nurse died after contracting coronavirus.
Her new doctor sees her about half as often as normal in order to minimize exposure. Patients who don’t bring their own gloves and masks are given them.
There’s been a whole shift in the last month,” Molland says. “They literally have gloves and masks and they say ‘please wear this’” to patients who don’t bring their own protective gear. “A lot of what’s driving a lot of us is adrenaline, this sense that we have to get through it,” she says.
Molland also has sobering advice for anyone thinking about getting pregnant now. “If you can wait, don’t do it,” she says. “My first pregnancy vs. this one, this one has not been fun. It’s a constant state of terror. I think that’s just so unfortunate. Pregnancy is supposed to be beautiful and something to be excited about. I think those of us who are pregnant have not been excited for one single day since this thing really broke out.”
Molland also talks about how the pandemic has changed her media diet, her reluctance to end work-from-home protocols and why financial health is higher on her priority list than it used to be.