Gwyneth Paltrow opened up about her journey to becoming a mother and a step-parent in a recent podcast episode, sharing that she “almost died” giving birth to daughter Apple.
The 49-year-old actress and founder of the lifestyle-wellness brand Goop made an appearance on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert where the two got into a discussion about how bodies evolve as they get older. Paltrow pointed to her experience after giving birth and the role that social media plays in putting pressure on women to look a certain way.
“I had two cesareans [C-sections]. My daughter was an emergency, it was crazy, we almost died. It was like not good,” she explained. “Anyway, there’s a big scar across your body and you’re like, oh wow, that didn’t use to be there. And it’s not that it’s bad or you want to judge it but you’re just like, ‘Oh my god.'”
Although Paltrow didn’t go into further detail about giving birth to the now 17-year-old that she shares with ex-husband Chris Martin, she has previously mentioned a near-death experience when she had a miscarriage while pregnant with the couple’s third child. “I had a really bad experience when I was pregnant with my third and it didn’t work out and I nearly died,” she told Daily Mail in 2013. “So I am, like, ‘Are we good here or should we go back and try again?'”
The scare was one of a number of health issues that led Paltrow to experiment with different eating plans, which was documented in her recipe book It’s All Good. Still, she recognizes the great emphasis placed on the state of women’s bodies after giving birth, especially with the rise of social media.
“Thank god there wasn’t Instagram when I had babies because now it’s like if I see someone, ‘Oh I just gave birth two weeks ago and I have a completely washboard stomach,’ and I’m like, wow that’s not what I [looked like]. And like great, more power to the lady with the washboard [abs] but that is totally the exception and then now we’re being fed all of these other images of what we’re supposed to look like all the time — babies, no babies, whatever,” she said.
Comparisons continue to be a problem for women throughout the journey of motherhood as the details of their lives as parents are documented on social media and become a seemingly unattainable blueprint for so many others.
“I think women really need to be friends with each other and all the judgment around how you have a baby, do you breastfeed, do you not, this that, are you going to work, are you not going to work. Guess what, whatever it is, it’s OK,” Paltrow continued. “I feel like we also have this weird thing around, it’s past perfectionism, it’s like I can do this gargantuan task that’s superhuman and why? For what?”
As she’s worked toward blending her family with husband Brad Falchuk, Paltrow has also faced the unique challenges of becoming a step-parent. She even explained that her and Falchuk’s caution led them to make the decision to live in separate houses throughout the first year of their marriage.
“When Brad and I got married, we thought it still felt soon to integrate the kids under one roof. So we had a different situation and we had been dating for a while and he had a house close, and so we sort of thought maybe we’ll just be married for a year and let them experience that before we kind of all go under one roof,” she said. “Sometimes we think maybe we were too careful about [it], but I think we really tried to be as mindful in our divorces and in our marriage together as possible. And we love our kids so much and between the two of us we have these four great kids and it’s really hard.”
She went on, “There’s no book, nobody tells you how to step-parent or how to do it and it’s tough and you go through really, just things you could not have imagined going through and it’s been such a totally fascinating and humbling thing being a step-parent and trying to figure it out. …With your own kids, you have all this latitude and you can make mistakes. With a step-kid, it’s totally different, but I love it.”
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