The Importance of Celebrities Getting Real About Pregnancy & Postpartum Issues, From Kim Kardashian to Kate Middleton

Like with so many health-related matters, every time a star speaks up is a reminder that no mom is alone in her experience

By Natalie Finn Mar 30, 2017 7:35 PMTags
Kate Middleton, Kim Kardashian, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chrissy Teigen, Kristen BellGetty Images

Not every pregnancy is an elegant, deep-breathing, minimal weight gain, emotionally stable, prenatal-yoga fest that results in sepia-toned bonding with the baby that eventually emerges.

In fact, no pregnancy is that, minus the ones you've seen solely through the filter of Instagram.

But just like with so many things in life, the grass is always more glamorous on the other side, which is why it's so heartening when a famous mom or mom-to-be speaks up about the more difficult and sometimes downright ugly aspects of pregnancy, as well as the postpartum issues that can arise.

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For instance, people might not have expected to get a primer on preeclampsia from Kim Kardashian's website, but when the E! star was pregnant with son Saint she revealed that she suffered from the condition, which can lead to serious complications, during her first pregnancy—which is why she was induced when carrying North.


"This pregnancy, I'm definitely scared for my delivery, but trying my best to be hopeful and not stress out too much!" Kim revealed. "Last pregnancy, I had a condition called preeclampsia...often, the only way to get rid of it is to deliver early to protect yourself and the baby. Only about 5 percent of woman get this. Lucky me! It causes your body and face to swell, and that was very uncomfortable for me. I had early-onset preeclampsia and I had to deliver at 34 weeks, almost six weeks early.

Moreover, Kim continued, after North was born she had placenta accreta, which is when the placenta remains attached to the uterus instead of coming out naturally. She went on to explain how the doctor got the placenta out—and it wasn't pretty. But it was about as real as it gets, and that's the reason why fans have been hooked on the ups and downs of Kim's life for the past 10 years.

She concluded, "My advice to anyone going through this or anything difficult during pregnancy is that all you can do is be hopeful, get the best information out there and just be prepared. The more information you have, the better you know how to handle it!"

Pregnant Performers

And Kim remains as frank as ever about what her body can handle, telling her family she's ready for baby No. 3 and making sure that the world knew, via Keeping Up With the Kardashians, that her doctor has warned her of serious risks involved in getting pregnant again.

You better believe we're going to hear more.

Meanwhile, one of Kim's good friends, Chrissy Teigen, is someone who has fearlessly opened up about her struggle to get pregnant, shared her IVF story with fans, fielded the inevitable criticism of every choice she made along the way and became one of the most interesting celeb moms to look to for quirky, often hilarious anecdotes about parenting.


About a month before revealing that she was pregnant with her daughter, Chrissy and Tyra Banks commiserated about their fertility struggles.

"We would have kids five, six years ago if it'd happened," Teigen revealed. "But my gosh, it's been a process! So, anytime somebody asks me if I'm going to have kids, I'm like, 'One day, you're going to ask that to the wrong girl who's really struggling, and it's going to be really hurtful to them. And I hate that. So, I hate it. Stop asking me!'" 

Food for thought for everybody.

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Then there's the opposite conundrum. 

"Everybody treats you like you're insane," Soleil Moon Frye told E! News when she was pregnant with her fourth child (which she herself called "crazy," but she's allowed). "Only friends that have three or four children appreciate it and then everybody else is like, 'What is wrong with you, are you OK?' I'm like, 'Yes, I'm very excited, I'm very happy!'"

So basically there's no way out of impertinent questions and commentary—but at least we know that celebrities' friends and family can be just as annoying as anyone else's.

Like with other health- or bodily-related issues, it wasn't always considered proper for women to get really real about having children—and that included how they had them. But a slew of stars have been doing their best to erase any sort of stigma that may have plagued past generations when it comes to expanding their families via surrogate or gestational carrier.

For instance, it's more common knowledge now that those are two different things.

Nicole Cleary/Getty Images

"We were in a place of desperately wanting another child and this opportunity arose for us, and I couldn't get pregnant and we wanted another baby. I get emotional talking about it, because I'm so grateful to her. I cannot believe I'm crying on 60 Minutes," Nicole Kidman recalled the emotional decision to pursue having another child via gestational carrier (Kidman and Keith Urban provided the egg and sperm; a surrogate provides the egg).

And so their second child together, daughter Faith, was born in 2010.

"Anyone that's been in the place of wanting another child, or wanting a child, knows the disappointment, pain and loss you go through trying," the Oscar winner said. "And struggling with fertility is such a big thing. And it's not something I've ever run away from talking about, I've had a very roller-coaster ride with fertility, I just have. It has never been easy for me. So to now be in this place where I have two gorgeous adopted children and two biological children, I can't believe that's what's happened in my life."

Pap Gossip / AKM-GSI

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick welcomed twins in 2009 via surrogate, and the Sex and the City star opened up beforehand about how they chose that route.

Well, you know, we've been trying to expand our family for a number of years and we actually have explored a variety of ways of doing so," she told Access Hollywood. "This was one of the things we discussed with seriousness that had real possibilities for us...It would be odd to have made this choice if I was able to, you know, have successful pregnancies since my son's birth."

Even the surrogate, whom they tried to keep anonymous, was treated like a celebrity once she was identified—meaning, paparazzi started following her around and her privacy was invaded. Parker shared that the surrogate's phone was hacked at one point, and a pregnant friend of hers was chased down the highway because the paps thought she was the surrogate.

"You understand what stress, worry and fear and being scared can do," Parker said. "She's quite far along in this pregnancy and she's carrying two children... There's simply no excuse for doing this to somebody. It's not acceptable."

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And in case anyone is hung up on the idea that it's harder to bond with a baby that you don't carry yourself, Kristen Bell admitted after her first child was born that "it could've been a water bottle" in her belly, that's how connected she felt to her daughter Lincoln at first.

"But within about 24 hours after she came out, my hormones reset, and they reprogrammed my feelings about her," the always refreshingly candid actress told Flare in 2013.

Once the babies have arrived, hopefully in as healthy and happy a manner as possible, a whole new set of unforeseen hurdles can arise, including postpartum depression, anxiety and mood swings—which is said to affect between 10 and 15 percent of new mothers.

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In all likelihood the percentage is higher than that, and a number of celebrity moms, including Drew Barrymore and Hayden Panettiere, have opened up about their own struggles with postpartum issues.


"It's something that I can very much relate to, and it's something that I know a lot of women experience," Panettiere, who sought treatment for her troubles, said on Live With Kelly and Michael in 2015. "When they tell you about postpartum depression, you think about, 'Ok, I feel negative feelings towards my child, I want to injure my child, I want to hurt my child' —I've never ever had those feelings, and some women do."

Angela Pham/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Indeed, the experience is different for everyone. While Barrymore felt OK after she had her first daughter, Olive, depression followed the second time around with daughter Frankie.

"The second time, I was like, 'Oh, whoa, I see what people talk about now. I understand.' It's a different type of overwhelming," the actress told People in 2015. "I really got under the cloud."

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Gwyneth Paltrow had a similar experience, in that she felt like she breezed through having her first baby in comparison to how she felt the second time around.

"I felt like a zombie. I couldn't access my heart. I couldn't access my emotions. I couldn't connect. It was terrible," the Oscar winner recalled in 2011 the immediate aftermath of having son Moses. "It was the exact opposite of what had happened when Apple was born. With her, I was on cloud nine. I couldn't believe it wasn't the same. I just thought it meant I was a terrible mother and a terrible person."

She credited then-husband Chris Martin for identifying what was happening to her, "and that sort of burst the bubble."

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And while Kate Middleton hasn't been one to spill intimate details of what it was like to be pregnant with Prince George or Princess Charlotte (though palace transparency did result in us learning what hyperemesis gravidarum was), she recently got as close as a royal can get to letting us inside the inner sanctum while talking about how important for mothers to tend to their mental, as well as physical, health at a charity event organized by Best Beginnings last week.

"Personally, becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience. However, at times it has also been a huge challenge," the duchess said. "Even for me, who has support at home that most mothers do not. Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer, overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother. It's full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together."

The 35-year-old continued, "There is no rule book, no right or wrong; you just have to make it up and do the very best you can to care for your family. For many mothers, myself included, this can at times lead to a lack of confidence and feelings of ignorance. Sadly, for some mothers, this experience can be made so much harder due to challenges with our very mental health."

"If any of us caught a fever during pregnancy, we would seek advice and support from a doctor," she added. "Getting help with our mental health is no different. Our children need us to look after ourselves and get the support we need."