new mom

25 Famous Women on Becoming New Moms

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NEW MOM explores the brilliant, terrible, wonderful, confusing realities of first-time motherhood. It’s for anybody who wants to be a new mom, is a new mom, was a new mom, or wants really good reasons to never be a new mom.

The year 2018 has been busy for celebabies poised to take over the world: There was another royal birth, a triad of Kardashian-Jenner births, and the birth of Senator Tammy Duckworth’s daughter — whose very existence led to motions to lift the long-standing baby ban on the Senate floor. Behind every newborn is a mom (+ village) working nonstop to keep her baby alive and well. Below, 25 famous women from Serena Williams to Ali Wong share their most memorable moments of new motherhood, from unconditional love to the truth about breastfeeding.

1. Chrissy Teigen
On breastfeeding: “I just think it’s so funny. Sometimes I’m Googling how to do it better. I’m like, ‘Is it working? Is it taking? I don’t think I’m feeling enough pain!’ You just get so confused about how it’s supposed to feel, and as hard as anyone said it was, I feel like it somehow managed to be harder.” —People, July 2016

2. Serena Williams
On her daughter, Alexis Olympia: “We’re not spending a day apart until she’s 18. Now that I’m 36 and I look at my baby, I remember that [becoming a mom] was also one of my goals when I was little, before tennis took over, when I was still kind of a normal girl who played with dolls. … Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams. … And actually, I think having a baby might help. When I’m too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born. Knowing I’ve got this beautiful baby to go home to makes me feel like I don’t have to play another match. I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige. I want them, but I don’t need them. That’s a different feeling for me.” —Vogue, February 2018

3. Ali Wong
“It used to take like an hour to breastfeed her. I’d have to get a pillow in place, and then I’d put a towel on one boob, because when your titties spout out milk — when you’re sucking out of one boob, it’s not like the other boob will just stop. It’s like crying, and asking one eye to stop crying. Both eyes make tears. So I put a towel on one titty and it just takes a really long time to breastfeed her. And then she’d poo and I’d change her diaper, change her outfit, and then she’d be hungry again. And then I’d breastfeed her all over again, start the whole cycle all over again. So it’s relentless.” —Baby Cobra, May 2016

4. Mindy Kaling
“People say, ‘Did you even have a baby?’ I’m keeping her under wraps for now. I would kill someone who said anything about her … I knew how much I would love her and love the experience of being with her. I never understood how much I would worry and how much that worry is unceasing. Happiness for me, now, is just a feeling of relief. I’m in a constant state of worry but I’m enjoying it too. I hope she’s developing correctly — I’m anxious constantly. I’m hoping that will change a little bit. I haven’t even thought about when she’s bigger.” —Today, March 2018

5. Kate Middleton
“Personally, becoming a mother has been such a rewarding and wonderful experience. However, at times it has also been a huge challenge — even for me who has support at home that most mothers do not. Nothing can really prepare you for you the sheer overwhelming experience of what it means to become a mother. It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love, and worry, all mixed together. Your fundamental identity changes overnight.” —A speech at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March 2017

6. Beyoncé
“I felt very maternal around eight months, and I thought I couldn’t become any more until I saw the baby. But it happened during my labor because I had a very strong connection with my child. I felt like when I was having contractions, I envisioned my child pushing through a very heavy door. And I imagined this tiny infant doing all the work, so I couldn’t think about my own pain …. We were talking. I know it sounds crazy, but I felt a communication.” —Vogue, March 2013

7. Kylie Jenner
“I think more about the future because of her. Every time I leave and I’m stressed about leaving her, I’m like, ‘I’m doing it for you.’ Everyone says you change completely when you become a mom, but I really feel the same, just better. So I don’t know what really has completely changed my world, besides her, of course. But I feel like it’s only gotten better. You’re less selfish — and I actually enjoy changing diapers. It’s really satisfying. To make her clean again. And I don’t know, the whole thing is really … it’s like such an amazing experience.” —ES, May 2018

8. Emily Blunt
“After we got home from the hospital, I didn’t shower for a week, and then John [Krasinski] and I were like, ‘Let’s go out for dinner.’ I could last only about an hour because my boobs were exploding. When the milk first comes in, it’s like a tsunami. But we went, just to prove to ourselves that we could feel normal for a second.” —InStyle, November 2016

9. Chelsea Clinton
“I wish that there’d sort of been a [breastfeeding] guidebook on how do you think about this, really, how do you make this work? I still was breastfeeding and I was pumping and I was so committed to ensuring I could keep doing that for Charlotte, and balancing those logistics [was] really hard. I figured it out, but it took a while to figure it out. It also just took lots of, like, swallowing my pride and being comfortable with pumping in airport bathrooms and kind of wherever I needed to get it done.” —Today, September 2015

10. Salma Hayek
“Pregnancy is all a blur now. But I remember the advice that my aunt gave me — my aunt who never had any babies. She spent some time with us when Valentina was not even 1 month old, and she said to me, ‘Put her to sleep yourself every night. Sing to her and cradle her in your arms and sit by her side — every night. Because one day, you won’t be able to carry her anymore, and it’s going to happen really fast.’” —American Baby, August 2008

11. Mila Kunis
“Children are f–king crazy. They’re also suicidal. Like, at the park, certain jungle gyms have an opening for older kids to jump out of. [Daughter Wyatt’s] 19 months; she can’t jump. She just walks off it as if she’s on a pirate ship. Another important thing to learn is that kids have a personality that has nothing to do with you. I have a really sweet daughter. She wants to hug all the other kids. I didn’t teach her to be sweet. It has nothing to do with me. I’ve realized you can control only so much.” —Glamour, July 2016

12. Kerry Washington
“I can be covered in spit-up on a conference call while I’m pumping and that’s OK, because this is my perfect. It may not be somebody else’s, but this is mine.” —The Edit, May 2017

13. Eva Chen
“Automate your life as much as possible — groceries, manicure appointments, diapers, etc. The less you have to think about the mundane, the more time you have to spend with your little one!” —Coveteur, May 2017

14. Jourdan Dunn
“Before I had my son, my mom told me to move back home so I’d have more support. The first day home from the hospital I did my hair and makeup for people coming over, and my mom was like, ‘What are you doing? Don’t put that pressure on yourself.’ Once she said that, I was like, ‘You know what? I am actually exhausted.’ Then I spent, like, two weeks in pajamas. I think a lot of new moms put pressure on themselves to be a certain way. But it’s, like, you gave birth. Who cares if you haven’t brushed your hair? Who cares if you have sour milk on your nightie?” —InStyle, May 2018

15. Ellie Kemper
“I’m a terrible cook and I’m terrible with timing. So, like the pasta will be ready, but then the sauce isn’t or whatever. Nothing comes together on time. There’s just a lot always going on, whether you have one kid, two kids, ten kids. So sometimes, I don’t always heat up [the meal] if I’m giving him leftovers. If he’s starving, I won’t always heat up the food. He’ll like touch it and then he makes a shiver sound like, ‘Brr.’ Probably not like he wants to remember from mom’s home cooking like, ‘It was really cold.’” —Us Weekly, March 2018

16. Amy Poehler
“The sleep deprivation after children is so real. I liken it to what it must feel like to walk on the moon and cry the whole time because you had heard that the moon was supposed to be great but in truth it totally sucks. I slept wherever I could. Twenty minutes at lunch. During production meetings. In my car. I remember being filled with rage when childless people would talk about brunch.” —Yes Please, October 2014

17. Miranda July
“I think having a baby kind of reset me to zero, I felt like new in the world again. Almost like when you’re a teenager and you’re just figuring everything out and you have all kinds of like hope and fear. Which is sort of how I felt, and it’s not a bad place to write from … I felt when I had a baby that maybe things are kind of screwed in terms of personal freedom — I can’t just go off, go to the movies, or go gallivanting around but I never did that in the first place. Actually, all I ever did was work, and it seems like I can just manage to still do that and have the baby. I just can’t do this free time thing. Which is a little unfortunate because now I really need it and I never got good at it before. I always thought, ‘I’ll get good at that later,’ and now it’s kind of like doctor’s orders. I’m probably at that point in your life where it’s good to add something else into the mix for everything.” —It’s Nice That, March 2015

18. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“A friend was just visiting and she said to me, ‘Your parenting is not very Nigerian.’ In Nigeria — and, I think, in many cultures — you control children. And I feel like, my daughter is 15 months, she doesn’t have a sense of consequences. And I enjoy watching her. So she tears a page of a book? Whatever. She throws my shoes down. So? It’s fun. I love that she’s quite strong-willed … [My husband] says to me, ‘Well, at least we know where she got her personality from.’ She’s quite fierce.” —The Guardian, March 2017

19. Zadie Smith
“Motherhood for me was at first a kind of displacement. It forced me, at least partially, into a secondary position in my own life. Even the simple biological recognition that my daughter is on the way in and I am unavoidably on the way out. And time-wise, it made me very impatient of wasting any. Even my sentences have the stench of motherhood upon them. I haven’t the time for elaborate metaphors! I want to get to the point — to be understood. —Lenny Letter, November 2016

20. Viola Davis
“Becoming a mother has opened up my whole life and given me a whole new purpose. I feel like a star at home only because she loves me so much. I mean, it’s a red carpet everyday. It’s wonderful!” —People, December 2011

21. Blake Lively
“Having a baby is just living in the constant unexpected. You never know when you’re gonna get crapped on or when you’re gonna get a big smile or when that smile immediately turns into hysterics. It might be like living with a drug addict.” —The Los Angeles Times, April 2015

22. Olivia Wilde
On the first weeks of motherhood: “First of all, you haven’t seen your vagina in months, even though it’s all her fault you’re in this situation. Now that you can finally confirm that she is, in fact, still there, she isn’t the gal that you remember, and would rather you back off and give her some space (and an ice diaper) for the time being, thank you very much.” —Shape, March 2015

23. Tyra Banks
On her biggest surprise: “Just how tired [I am]. I’m tired right now because I was up all night. He was waking up all night last night, and [needed a] bottle at 5:30 this morning. I do have a lot of help, but I don’t have help all the time. So those moments when I’m like, in it and suffering, I’m like, ‘This is what I’m supposed to be doing as a mama.’” —ET Online, November 2017

24. Zooey Deschanel
“Nothing can really prepare you for it because you never again have a day where you don’t think of your kids first. At least for me, that’s what I think of first thing. Like, ‘How are the kids doing? What do they need?’ That’s my first thought when I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. I’m always thinking of them. I’ve changed completely. You don’t realize what a sort of selfish existence you live in until you have kids.” —Us Weekly, September 2017

25. Penélope Cruz
“From the first second, you feel so much love. It is a revolutionary experience. That’s the best way I can describe it. It transforms you completely, in a second. Nature is very wise and gives you nine months to prepare, but in that moment — when you see that face, you are transformed forever … Even if you have heard from all your friends and family, ‘This is what’s going to happen,’ until it happens to you, it’s hard to understand in your soul.” —Vogue, June 2011

25 Famous Women on Becoming New Moms