In the words of America Ferrera, "Every woman I know has a different experience of pregnancy and motherhood"—and her experience was every bit as life-changing.
This year, the famed actress landed one of her most special roles to date—mom—when she gave birth to her first child, son Sebastian Piers Williams, in May. "Every step of the way, everybody tells you what it's going to be like and how you're going to feel," the star told Health of pregnancy. "I really think that is so harmful to so many of us. I decided early on that I wasn't going to expect my experience to be what other people told me it would be like—good or bad."
The good? "Being pregnant, I felt really powerful and healthy," she told the magazine. "You create life. I found so much power in that."
After the arrival of little Baz as she calls him, Ferrera picked up a common practice: breastfeeding. "In terms of my relationship to my body, I'm still breastfeeding, so it's still very much in service of my son," she said. "There are parts of it that I love and also parts of it that are super challenging. I'm just now starting to feel like I want to feel strong in my body again."
As the actress candidly noted, "I didn't work out as much as I imagined I would during my pregnancy. I was in triathlon shape when I got pregnant. I had so much on my plate and something had to give."
Since becoming a mom, Ferrera has decided to go easier on herself. "I think that's been one of the mantras for me in all of motherhood—to try and not be so hard on myself. Which is a challenge because, like so many women, I demand so much more of myself than I would ever demand of someone else."
Fortunately, she has help in this new chapter from her partner, husband Ryan Piers Williams. "[Parenthood has] absolutely changed us as individuals. It changes what we talk about and what we focus on. For so long, it's been just the two of us, and we've had an amazing life together," she told the magazine. "I don't know that either one of us could anticipate how much we love him and how it makes everything new again. We've traveled to many wonderful places, and we've seen many things—and just getting to imagine that somewhere down the line everything that we've already done and seen, Baz will be seeing for the first time...it's amazing.
As for Ferrera, she's also seeing life from a new perspective. As she explained to the magazine, she "went off the grid" at the end of her pregnancy while taking time off and feared she wouldn't care about anything else again. However, shortly after giving birth, family separation in the United States had gotten the public's attention.
"When Baz was 2 or 3 weeks old, my friend started organizing. I spent the whole day topless in my apartment feeding my newborn, but had to be on the phone and help in whatever way I could. It was a relief to know that who I am at my core was not altered," she told Health. "Actually, that's not true. It's not accurate that I wasn't altered. In a way, having him made everything more important."
To read the full interview, go to Health.com.