Next week is Baby Week on Discovery Health! The network is showcasing the stories of some truly remarkable births through premiere programs including Twins By Surprise (airing Sunday, June 14, 8P e/p), Little Parents, Big Pregnancy (Monday, June 15, 8P e/p), Births Beyond Belief (Tuesday, June 16, 8P e/p) and Obese & Pregnant (Wednesday, June 17, 8P e/p). Here’s a sneak peak at these and other specials that will be featured as part of Baby Week.
It seems as though every week is baby week in Hollywood, with pregnancies and births making headlines all the time. Here is a look at the very memorable labor and delivery stories that some of our favorite celebrities have shared in recent years.
Home births are a hot topic in Hollywood and elsewhere these days, particularly since the huge success of Ricki Lake’s 2008 documentary, The Business Of Being Born. The film’s premiere was a star-studded event with some of Hollywood’s most famous moms walking the red carpet. Home births are of course more than just a trend – there are many famous moms who have long been proponents of delivering at home, including Cindy Crawford, Pamela Anderson, Thandie Newton, Charlotte Church, Maria Bello, Meryl Streep and Demi Moore.
Thandie Newton’s daughters Ripley and Nico were born in a birthing pool as the Crash star opted for a water birth both times. She calls the experience “very challenging in the best way possible,” saying that “Every fiber of your being is alive. It’s like you are conducting electricity, literally creating something. I’d like to give birth every year if I could, just for that experience.”
“I labored at home for 24 hours, and I just wasn’t making any progress. My baby was stuck in my birth canal and I just couldn’t push anymore. So I ended up being rushed to the hospital. And guess what? The doctor on call was the SAME doctor who I’d fired just two weeks before! Talk about awkward! So, there I was, having an emergency C-section with the doctor I’d severed ties with, the midwife, the doula and my boyfriend. I went through the pain of the C-section but also all that labor beforehand. But for some reason, that’s what my body wanted to do.”
Melissa Joan Hart went the hospital route by choice for her boys, though she says that after “a lot of medical intervention” during the birth of her son Mason, now 3, she wanted a drug-free childbirth when it came time to deliver Braydon in March 2008.
“I told my mom and my husband, don’t let me have [the drugs],” she recalled to US. “I kinda regret that one! But the thing is, the healing was so much faster. I didn’t have to get the drugs out of my system and was moving around a lot more. I labored at home for 9 hours and then went to the hospital for an hour and a half – two pushes and he was out. When you’re feeling all that, you want to get that out as soon as possible, so you really work. You’re like, ‘I’m gonna push really hard but I’m only doing it once.'”
“Contractions started kicking in. We had a 14-hour session, her and I did. I sat there with her, right between her legs. We got tribal on it, we danced to it! I was DJ-ing this Brazilian music. We were jamming! She was sweating. No painkiller, let’s go. She just clicked into that gear that only a woman has at a time like this. We’d been up for 40-something hours, and we went from dead tired to a really steadfast, ‘Let’s handle this… let’s stay in the rhythm. Don’t let the contraction be more than you.’ The doctor wanted to give her an epidural, and we said, “Give us a few more hours to keep rocking with this.’ I wasn’t speaking for Camila. She had the option of saying, ‘Give me an epidural, right now,’ whenever she wanted. This is where I learned – and no one tells you this – but having a baby is a bloody, pukey, sweaty, primeval thing! And I mean that as a beautiful thing. It is wild. But the vacuum didn’t work, and the doctor said, ‘C-section.’”
Caesarean sections always seem to be a topic of discussion when it comes to celebrity births. Mom-of-six Angelina Jolie described the birth of her daughter Shiloh via C-section to Vanity Fair, calling the experience “fascinating.”
“We were in this little hospital in Africa when Shi was born. I don’t think there was anybody else in the hospital. It was just a little cottage, the three of us. It ended up being the greatest thing. We had wonderful doctors and nurses. It was lovely, very personal, all three in this sweet room. We had an American doctor with us, who had met the Namibian doctors, and they worked in tandem because it was a C-section and my first and we didn’t know the country. He spent a few weeks with us. There was only one pediatrician in town, and one anesthesiologist, who had to come in for that — you have to plan it.
I had a C-section and I found it fascinating. I didn’t find it a sacrifice and I didn’t find it a painful experience. I found it a fascinating miracle of what a body can do.”
Kate Winslet, on the other hand, recently revealed to Gotham magazine that when her daughter Mia was delivered via C-section in 2000 she was left feeling “like a complete failure,” and so had her heart set on a vaginal delivery for her second baby.
“I’ve never talked about this. I’ve actually gone to great pains to cover it up. But Mia was an emergency C-section. I just said that I had a natural birth because I was so completely traumatized by the fact that I hadn’t given birth. I felt like a complete failure. My whole life, I’d been told I had great childbearing hips. There’s this thing amongst women in the world that if you can handle childbirth, you can handle anything. I had never handled childbirth, and I felt like, in some way that I couldn’t join that ‘powerful women’s club.’ So it was an amazing feeling having Joe naturally, vaginally. Fourteen hours with no drugs at all, but then I had to have an epidural because I was so tired. I honestly thought I’d never be able to do it. It was an incredible birth. It laid all the ghosts to rest. It was really triumphant.”
Childbirth is of course an intense experience for dads as well. Ashlee Simpson and her husband Pete Wentz opted for a hospital birth – and an epidural – when their son Bronx Mowgli was born in November, 2008. Pete says that Ashlee stayed calm and strong during her labor and delivery – and she even found the energy to help him through it! The Fallout Boy singer recalls his own experience with the birth:
“Natural things start going on in your body. My heart started beating really fast. You see your wife in all this pain, and you really don’t know what’s happening. [But Ashlee] took care of me and made sure I was OK and then we went into labor. That’s why she’s a saint…. She was like, ‘I will make sure you’re OK.’ I didn’t even stop to think, ‘Well, you just had an epidural and you’re about to have a baby!'” When baby Bronx finally made his appearance, Pete remembers it being love at first sight. “’He’s beautiful. He’s perfect,’ [Ashlee announced]. We were instantly in love. It’s impossible not to be!”
One of the most amazing things about childbirth is that every experience is different and every parent’s journey is unique. Be sure to tune into Baby Week on Discovery Health for some incredible tales of pregnancy and birth.