New Baby = New Business? WHAT?!


Start a Business During Your Maternity Leave?  Are you fu*@ing KIDDING me?

I had lunch with a GORGEOUS mate and her new baby last week and feel compelled to open the conversation on something that’s been bugging me for a while.

Listening to a podcast in my car the other day (currently OBSESSED with podcasts) I heard someone proudly announce they wanted “to let new mums know how to start their business during their maternity leave”.  I nearly stacked it into a nearby tree with rage!  But this is a worrying and growing trend.

Infact, type “Starting a business during your maternity leave” into google and the results are alarming.  There’s article up article, waxing lyrical about how this is the “perfect time to do it”!  Is it just me, or has the WORLD BEEN DRINKING?!

Since WHEN did Maternity Leave become synonymous with starting a business?  And why is there an increasing trend to imply new mums aren’t grabbing life with both breast pads if they’re not ambitiously attempting to add “mumboss” to all the hats they’re trying to rock whilst grappling with a new life?

So, let me just get this straight?

Somewhere between dropping a sproglet out of my shocked vajayjay, dealing with the psychological impact of this wrinkly leather handbag someone has carelessly left strapped to my front which apparently DIDN’T disappear in the birthing suite (who knew?!), pretending I know how to look after this baby (essentially an Ikea build with no instructions)  changing nappies, grappling with sore nipples and cabbage leaves (thank GOD for cabbage leaves!) making cups of tea, thanking for flowers, adjusting to zero sleep, deliriously rifling through the duvet at 2 am for my “lost baby” AND feeling entirely overwhelmed and generally like I’m not measuring up to all the supermums, I NOW have the pressure to START A BUSINESS?!Katy Hill Blog - Danielle Macinnes

Well, I’m sorry but THIS Business Mama is CALLING TIME.


Don’t get me wrong.  I’m ALL ABOUT SUPPORTING THE SISTERHOOD.  I want women to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be.  I want to empower women to dream biggger than they ever dreamt possible and growing and pushing out a human is the most incredibly liberating and empowering experience, ultimately encouraging you to believe so much more in yourself and what you can achieve in life!

And I’m a grafter!  I got up at 3.45 for the past 3 years to host Heart Breakfast so I GET that juggling life and children means that you make certain sacrifices and it’s vital to me that my kids see me knocking life out of the park on a daily basis!  I want them to see they’ve got a strong, go-getting mama. I’m speaking at The Festival Of Marketing this week alongside Sir Alan Sugar, Jo Malone and other business leaders (*gulps!) so these days I’m ALL about business and, as a freelancer,  I’m ALL about making your work / home life WORK!  It’s just all about TIMING and being kind to yourself during those early months.  And knowing that not everybody NEEDS to start a business in life!  I found being a new mum a lonely road – incredible and rewarding but tough – which is why I started this blog in the first place and why I feel the need to shout loudly about this topic right now.

Finding a life that works for you?  AMAZING.  Of course life changes when you have a child. Big time. Yes, chances are you might take time to re-evaluate what’s important to you and you might even be trying to work out how you can build more flexibility into the not-very-flexible working environment we currently live.  If so, check out Mother Pukka (Anna) and her amazing FlexAppeal to find your cheerleader on this one and get involved!

And if you DO have business plans of your own? Again, AMAZING. Building a life that works for YOU is what it’s all about and, if you’re inspired, go for it! . I’m just saying your maternity leave isn’t necessarily the right time to put yourself under the added pressure of starting a business.

I recently heard someone explaining how they “run business while my new baby naps”.

Early doors, this may seem like a great idea but how about those days when they DON’T nap?  I used to feel frustrated if it was time for mine going down and there they were, bright eyed and bushy tailed with ZERO interest in catching those zzzzzzz’s! And all I’d planned to achieve while they were asleep was maybe send some emails, or make the house look slightly less like we’d been burgled, or cook some fish fingers for my eldest – not launch and run a freikin’ business!

So please everyone – let’s just take the heat off can we?

Enough with the myth – often fuelled by social media – that life with a newborn is the perfect time to start a business!

And new mums – ENJOY MOTHERHOOD!  Trust me – and just about everyone who stops you in the street to coo over your baby –  those early days will be gone before you know it and you can never get them back.

Life isn’t going anywhere.  If you’ve got big dreams inside you – AMAZING! By all means – dream, dream, dream the biggest bloody dream you’ve ever dared to so that, one day, you can make that dream happen.

But please, for now, scratch “Start Business” off your Maternity To-Do List and cut yourself some slack.

In some cultures, they have the “Fourth Trimester” and new mums stay in bed, being waited on hand and foot while they bond with the baby, crack the breastfeeding and let their body recover – for THREE WHOLE (delicious) MONTHS!  Bliss. Yeah, we totally live in the wrong place, right?

And while we’re on the subject – this post ISN’T targeted at women.  It’s just suggesting that WHOEVER is the primary caregiver in those early months may not relish the current pressure to start a business whilst working out how to care for a new life!

SO – if you’ve got a new baby – PLEASE don’t let the fact you haven’t got a business plan sorted make you feel like you’re under achieving at life!  Go and relish being in the moment with that incredible creature and give yourself permission to do so.  Believe me, before you’ve blinked you’ll be wondering, like me, how the hell you have a kid who’s just started secondary school!

K x


  • Reply Sophie Le Brozec October 19, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Great blog post Katy! I set up a new business at the end of my first pregnancy and oh my god was it hard?!? I also feel I missed out on early days with Léna because my mind was set on making a go of my business. Whilst I don’t regret my decision as it set me on the journey that took me to where I am now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others either! When Baby Number 2 came along I did things very differently. I took a longer break from work and then went back on my terms. My advice to any mum / future mum thinking about doing this is to think very, very carefully first!!

  • Reply Jen Fuller October 4, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Your article made me laugh out loud Katy and you’re 100% right. New mums need zero pressure, just support and time with their little one.
    I didn’t look to start a business whilst on mat leave I just had an idea and explored it. Before I knew it I was launching a business, but because I hadn’t put any pressure on myself and happened to enjoy the stimulation (and was fortunate to have a fairly easy going baby) it never felt too much or too distracting from being with Etta.
    I do however get a surprising amount of emails from women on mat leave wanting advice on how to come up with an idea, which to me feels like they are putting far too much pressure on themselves. The only measure of ‘success’ (which is an odd term in itself) of your mat leave is spending time with your baby and if you’re lucky feeling confident with the little love, so anything above that is an added extra only xx

    • Reply Katy October 6, 2017 at 10:55 am

      TOTALLY! “How do I come up with an idea”? If you’re asking THAT, step away from entrepreneurship! It’s not for everyone but the pressure is clearly out there. It’s like people asking me “How do I become a TV Presenter”. I’m now honest and say “if you need to ask me that question you don’t want it badly enough because there are SO many ways to do it now, compared to when I started so if you haven’t sussed it yet, you don’t have the hunger”! Harsh, but true! x

  • Reply Gill October 4, 2017 at 9:36 am

    LOVE this, Katy! It does seem like there’s a lot of pressure on new mums at such a stressful stage. I still remember a magazine article about ‘how to have a power maternity leave’ that was published when I was on maternity leave a few years ago, and how it made me feel when I was struggling to leave the house once a day. Obviously, everyone is different but no-one needs this kind of pressure, especially when their children are very young x

    • Reply Katy October 4, 2017 at 9:54 am

      “Power Maternity Leave”?! Wow. That’s some headline. Sorry it made you feel bad and thanks so much for sharing! I’m all for women knocking it out of the park in life and grafting – just not alongside grafting with a brand new baby necessarily! And it’s the pressure I wanted to flag – so thanks xx

  • Reply Julia Boggio October 3, 2017 at 11:00 am

    As someone who ran my business while raising a newborn baby, I can tell you firsthand – IT AIN’T EASY. Thankfully, I had a great team of people around me to help out and cuddle the baby while I was photographing clietns. I repeat TEAM OF PEOPLE (never could have done it on my own). I think a lot of women do start up baby-related businesses just after they’ve had a baby. But I’ve always wondered if a baby-related business can hold your attention and passion as your little one grows older and you become engrossed in the new things that are pertinent to your growing child. Anyway, nice post. Hope you are well, darling! Jx

    • Reply Katy October 3, 2017 at 11:23 am

      I’m with you! My blog started as way more baby-related than it is now – obviously! I’m glad I didn’t name it something baby appropriate or I’d have had to do a complete re-brand as my kids got older! And you’re so right – TEAM of people I can imagine – love that! I just don’t want people being sold the myth that it’s a) easy or b) they can do it alone. Love to see you soon x

  • Reply Clare Weston October 3, 2017 at 7:58 am

    I sadly knew that the job I loved which was a 2 hour commute door to door was not going to be feasible with a baby once I returned from mat leave… I didn’t start my own business but I did think about it and action lots of things from about 6 months. I was so worried about going back that I put myself under so much pressure to create something of my own and it didn’t come organically and like you said when my baby napped I frantically tried to work on ideas… all in all I felt a bit of a failure. I went back to work but struggled with the lack of flexibility and the commute as a new mum not to mention train strikes. I’ve since gone freelance and realised for some starting your own business is not always the right thing for you. I totally agree though there is a lot of pressure… but I often think it’s the mum worrying about how to make it all work when maternity leave it over. Something I a, already questioning even before being pregnant with number 2!

    • Reply Katy October 3, 2017 at 9:18 am

      I’m with you. It’s the crazy pressure that’s the issue. The juggling is so challenging. I worry that the “going back to work” fear almost taints maternity leave for people, hence LOVING Mother Pukka and her Flexappeal campaign xx

  • Reply Katie Albury October 3, 2017 at 12:30 am

    I think another reason some people feel the desperate need to start a business whilst on maternity, speaking from experience, is also down to lack of income. We couldn’t survive on my maternity pay as previously I was earning more than my husband and I knew I couldn’t go back to work 40 hours a week with two babies under two, so I had to make other plans. I feel a bit cheated out of maternity leave both times around because money was so tight but I wasn’t left with many options x

    • Reply Katy October 3, 2017 at 6:20 am

      Good point, but by the time you get to that point in the leave, I’m guessing you’re about 6 months in. It’s just women feeling under pressure out of the gate I feel super sad about. I know everyone is doing the best job with the cards they’ve been dealt in life but anyone managing to start a business at any point of babydom – I don’t know how you did it! It’s the women feeling wrung out I’m worried about – life seems to currently be expecting so much of them. x

  • Reply Clare M October 2, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Oh this is soooo true. There seems to be a worrying trend that maternity leave is seen as a year off to do something else, whether that’s starting a business, learning a language, etc etc. Um, how about using it to recover from the nine months of growing a tiny human, and spend it with your baby learning how to adjust to your new life. I would never want to discourage anyone’s dreams, but it’s crazy to think that anyone would feel obliged to chase their career dream in the first year of their child’s life. I started my business at the end of my second maternity leave and even that was a bit too soon if I’m honest!!x

    • Reply Katy October 3, 2017 at 6:17 am

      SO with you. I know everyone is forging their own path but I’m just worried people are pushing themselves too hard too soon and they’ll never get that time back x

  • Reply Mandy October 2, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Totally agree Katie!

    Some of these articles make running your own business sounds so glamorous! As a new mum, the idea of choosing your own hours, being able to fit your business around your kids and doing something you are passionate about sounds good to be true. And sometimes it is!

    When you’re starting out, it’s tough! You may find the need to invest a lot of hours, and your income can be sporadic and uncertain. You may be doing something you love (like making jewellery etc) but you also have to do your own marketing, accounts, IT, PR, HR etc. You have to find customers! And juggling all this whilst adjusting to life as a new mum is definitely not easy.

    So, I think if you do want to start your own business on maternity leave – then good for you. But my advice would be to make sure you do your research first and go into with your eyes wide open.

    • Reply Katy October 3, 2017 at 6:16 am

      i’m with you – Eyes wide open is a great point. It’s just the implication that people can EASILY have a newborn and start a business that I object to. It’s going to make women feel they’re under-achieving! x

  • Reply Mummy Barrow October 2, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Gahhhh I am SO SO with you on this. I have heard women almost beam with pride when they say “I was back at work four days after giving birth” Fuxxake. I don’t buy that as being something to shout from the rooftops. I hear that and weep.

    I recently left full time work to focus on blogging and one of the things that hit me about the company I worked was that one of the employees was back at work three weeks after giving birth. Her choice, but she had been asked if she could help out and that really made me sad.

    I know these women must have amazing support networks and childcare in place, but seriously? Why can’t being a full time mum be enough. Being a mum when our babies need us is over so quickly, pre-school, school, uni leaving home, it all happens in a flash and we really need to focus on those earliest of days.

    Not designing business cards or look at spreadsheets. Looking at the wonderful little thing we created should be enough.

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      I’m with you. I just don’t understand the need to put ourselves under this crazy pressure?! Why is motherhood not seen as enough of a job? It scared me that I felt a bit low after having kids and the pressure was immense – I feel like starting a business is a new pressure nobody necessarily needs x

  • Reply Danielle October 2, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    I did start my business on maternity leave, and unlike others above it was BECAUSE I suffered with PND after the birth of my eldest. I have worked all my adult life and adored my fast-paced job; having a baby meant I found myself at home, with a tiny baby whom I just couldn’t connect with in the early days. I felt lost and not myself. I didn’t plan to start a business, but when asked to arrange my friends hen party I found a niche and thoroughly enjoyed being creative and using my mind again. I don’t take for granted being a mum, but it doesn’t define me. I needed something to feed my soul, and running my business does that for me. I am a better person and a better mum for it.

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      So glad it worked for you. PND is terrible – I think I had it after my second but it was never diagnosed. And yes – started my blog to still feel like I had a voice and hadn’t disappeared! ALL about working as a mum – I too love my kids seeing me knock it out of the park! Just not in those newborn months! x

  • Reply Carrie Wilkes October 2, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    OMG Katy. Totally get this. I’ve often spoken with friends about how maternity leave can often result in so much self reflection can’t it? There is so much unknown ….you’re in a period of change…and it can be quite unsettling. I chose to start a business when on maternity leave (with my first of three), would I encourage others to? The reasons you outline make a pretty good case as to why not! BUT at the same time it frustrates me SO MUCH to think a woman’s potential, her professional skills, her academic studies that she’s been developing since her GCSE days might somehow come to a full stop, or make her feel like they are, simply because she has produced her beautiful offspring. I have 3 girls I want them to have the choice to do whatever they want to do in life. We’ve developed a recruitment model aimed specifically at mums (and dads) that yes want to make the most of their glorious maternity leave with their amazing newborn but also who want to maintain a bit of who they’ve been developing all those years “before” – but in a really practical way i.e even if only for one day out of the month! Would love you to check it out

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      I’m SO with you. It’s about balance. But having an outlet is key so you don’t lose yourself!

  • Reply Kate October 2, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    The idea should ideally come first, rather than people thinking that they should start a business and then pressurize themselves into finding that magical idea – I agree that’s a pressure no one needs! Sadly I think it’s a reflection of how much the workplace isn’t working, that so many crave a way out. I came up with the idea and tentative plans for my business on mat leave, but it was really a way of carving out headspace during the chaotic baby + a toddler days. There was no way I could have put it into place till later.

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Absolutely! I’m the first to support everyone with new business ideas! I just think people are asking too much of themselves to try and execute that idea during maternity leave and, ultimately, I think something has to give. But having an independent business is the ultimate way to juggle life! Totally agree the workplace generally is SO lacking and it makes me so sad. And congrats on your business x

  • Reply Anna C October 2, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Oh Katy, this is BRILLIANT. And frankly needed to be said. There is so much pressure to do bloody everything, but all that does is ultimately leaves you feeling pretty crap about yourself and juggling all the plates just results in you doing everything half arsed and not particularly well – there starting a vicious cycle of not feeling ‘good enough’. When i had my babies I started so many businesses but they all kind of fizzled out as my heart just wasn’t in it and in the ned I knew I just wanted to be at home with my bubbas. I then waited until they were both in school before going back to work when i had the freedom and head space to succeed in my chosen career. Plus agree with comment below re: social media – talk about pressure!!!

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      I’m with you Anna. I totally accept that some people want to start businesses at that time but I can’t help feeling like, as you say, you’d feel like you were juggling all the plates and not quite doing any of the things properly. It’s not a competition! Some women want to start businesses in their leave – that’s up to them but it’s the implication that they’re ceasing life when others aren’t that I have issue with.

  • Reply Sarah Jones October 2, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I have to disagree with you, I don’t feel like there is any pressure being placed on new Mums to start their own business on maternity leave, they are simply being told that they can and the support is out there if they choose to. I know a very successful lady in Peterborough, The Unique Mumpreneur, who did just that, twice, and is now working with countless other Mums to help them do the same. I have two children of my own who are now at school, I spent the early days staying at home with a sleeping baby and socialising with the other Mums. In hindsight, I wish I had of started by business at that time instead of the constant coffees and catch ups with friends. I am now struggling more to get it off the ground with the school runs, after school clubs, etc to fit it in. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal choice and what is right for us as individuals, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to tell people not to do it anymore than telling them they should.

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      I’m with you Sarah – it’s all about personal choice and I’m all for people starting business if they want to. Just not necessarily in their maternity leave! It’s the implication that mums are slacking if they choose NOT to start a business in their maternity leave that I have issue with. If they want to – good for them. But I’m not convinced you can do both jobs properly without feeling like something is having to give.

  • Reply Susan October 2, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    I couldn’t have coped even coming up with an idea for a new business when I had my babies, let alone run one. I could just about function on feeding and getting basic tasks done. Why do we feel the need to put more pressure on ourselves? Blimey thinking back 20 years to my first, he didn’t sleep for longer than 10 minutes, my second boy was a dream baby, but i still had a toddler to deal with. Then I had a third boy, who was really good, but then I had school runs and clubs for the other two. I went back to being a Makeup Artist part time when my youngest was 6 months, but that was because my Mum helped me with the kids. Social media at the moment creates thoughts that everyone has a perfect life. I think it is time to be honest about reality. Great post katy. x

  • Reply Gayle Mansfield October 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Oh my gosh! There is absolutely NO WAY I could have set up my business whilst I was on maternity leave. PND and just the day to day of life with a newborn baby, I cannot imagine it. I barely slept for months! Going back to my career part time was more than enough for me! Now I have a school aged child and have had a good few years to reflect and reassess my work life, all is good, but I could never have done it within that first year!

  • Reply Caroline October 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Brilliant article and totally describes how loads of women feel when they are on mat leave. I had proper business discussions with some of my friends when I was on my first Mat leave and even looked at premises to start up a cafe with one of them . That would have been a total disaster because it was what ‘we’ needed right then and there and not actually the best business idea to make our fortunes, or something either of us knew anything about! I’m not sure if this is more of a modern phenomenon because a lot of women start their families in their thirties when they have a successful career behind them but the weight and responsibility of bringing a little person into the world, all the love, the guilt, just hits you, well it did me. Mothers want to be there for their kids and a decent work life balance is very hard to achieve. If you have had a career but want to be at home for your kids, the obvious solution is to do it for yourself, be the boss and write the rules. I had so many ideas to start businesses when I was on mat leave but I was so overwhelmed with being a new mum it was actually refreshing to go back to work. I did the same thing after I had my second child and then couldn’t bare it any longer. I was spinning plates and feeling guilty about every aspect of my life, not doing anything to the best of my ability and then my son started school. So that’s when I packed my desk up and started my brand. It’s hard work but I had insight working for start ups in the past, although it’s still daunting and pretty full on and learning on the job.

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I’m so with you. The plate spinning never subsides – you just have to constantly make choices! I recently left a job because it wasn’t working with home life. ALL about finding the balance that works for you! x

  • Reply katie malkinson October 2, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Totally agree with you. Ina digital world it is fantastic that women (and men) can set up a business relatively cheaply and work flexibly….but social media (amongst other things) is fuelling the myth that the perfect time to do this is with a small baby. Everyone is different but for me in the early months I didn’t have the head space or the energy to focus on anything apart from my kids (and coffee/cake) and I’m so glad I did. Precious days that go too fast…

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Me neither! I remember trying to climb into a wall at night because I thought the toilet door was there, I was SOOOO tired! x

  • Reply Emma October 2, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Nuff respect to anyone who can do this, they must be superhuman. My littlest is at school now and I’m just relishing the chance to have a wee by myself! Babies are a twenty-four hour occupation!

  • Reply Sophie October 2, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I think this is a great post. Interestingly i came up with my business whilst on maternity but I think it was mainly because I had a bit more time to reflect on life and what I wanted now I had two children. However it is 5 years later (the youngest having just started school) that I actually feel like I have a bit more time to focus on it, whilst still doing all the school/child raising stuff that we mums do. I have to agree though, I have met many a mum who is pregnant, on maternity who is running/starting new businesses and whilst i think it is great (and I am i awe of them) I do think there is a pressure for mums (at times self inflicted) to get the business off the ground and running so they don’t have to go back to their old job etc.

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 11:45 am

      LOVE that you dreamt up your business on maternity! I think the best businesses probably are dreamt up then! And love that you’ve managed to now execute it too! Yay – perfect scenario xx

  • Reply Amy October 2, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Madness couldn’t agree with you more! I could just about eat/wash/tidy/purée when my babies were tiny. Maybe with a nanny and housekeeper global business domination may have been an option…nah who am I kidding?! Enjoy the time with the babies. One day you look around and you have a lumbering teen and stroppy preteen. And more time on your hands…X

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Totally! The pressure is just too much x

  • Reply Helen October 2, 2017 at 11:36 am

    The 4th trimester! THAT’S what we should be pushing for, alongside flexible working. It always sounds like a cliché when you’re a new mum and people tell you to ‘enjoy them while they’re little.’ But it’s exactly what you should be doing. Now I have a 10 and 13 year old, my biggest regret in my whole life is trying to get back to ‘normal’ too quickly. I berated myself for not being able to go back to work when I’d planned to, and tolerated everything that was stopping me ‘getting on with life,’ rather than accepting it. If I could go back and do it all again, I would absolutely accept help where it was offered, and take time for me, and to hang out with my babies. Because now they’re growing up, I so wish I had those memories to treasure, of just sitting cuddling my baby. And I don’t. It’s why even now, if there’s a moment in the day, or week, when they want me for any length of time, I put down what I’m doing, and I give them my full attention. Because if the last 13 years have gone as fast as they have, I know for sure that my time with them now is limited. My business is so, so important. But not at the expense of time with my family.

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 11:39 am

      I’m SO with you! Even now I set my alarm for an hour before the kids wake up so I don’t feel like they’re in the way when I have emails to send and work to catch up on. I’m ALL about the business but this new pressure on new mums disturbs me so I felt I needed to speak out! xx

  • Reply Vicki October 2, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Katy this is so refreshing to hear! There are so many pressures on new mums. Everyone’s situation is different but agree that putting pressure on yourself during maternity leave doesn’t do you any favours. X

    • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Thanks Vicky. Absolutely – everyone is different! Just that the pressure is a bit nuts right now so I wanted to take the heat out! x

      • Reply Vicki October 2, 2017 at 11:41 am

        I think social media is so good for new start up businesses and there are so many who do a fantastic job of it, even with babes in arms. But also it gives an added pressure- if you’re not doing your dream job/starting your own business- why not?! You have to remember that social media is about the highlights and quite often doesn’t reflect the day to day reality of how hard it is to run a business. I think maternity leave does give you a good chance to reflect on where you are but there’s no rush. X

        • Reply Katy October 2, 2017 at 11:44 am

          Agreed! Social media makes it all look so easy! I’ve seen it in action and behind the scenes it’s not all it seems! x

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