It seems that every time you open up a parenting mag or scroll through a mom-site, you end up finding comforting anecdotes from celebrity moms and dads. Celebs, they’re just like us! Right? No, wait, they’re mostly not. It’s not to say that Gwen Stefani has no clue what labor is like. It’s not that Jessica Alba couldn’t possibly get how powerful childbirth can be. Actresses, runway models, award-winning musicians, reality television stars... they all have some idea of what we’re experiencing. But at the end of the day, if you want to know about birth, don’t ask a celebrity.
The birth experience is always going to be completely different for a celebrity than it will be for your average pregnant person. Celebrities can afford to birth in a much wider variety of locations, as they likely won’t be limited to what hospital their OB-GYN has admitting privileges at, or which one will be covered by insurance or medicaid.
When it was time for Kourtney Kardashian to give birth, she was able to do so in a deluxe maternity suite at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, California, as the Mirror reported. When it was time for me to give birth, I went to the local public hospital down the street.
Kardashian’s suite featured all kinds of luxuries like a welcome basket, a private jacuzzi tub, plush robes, and organic, cooked-to-order meals. The Lindo Wing, where Princess Diana, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Amal Clooney, and Pippa Middleton delivered advertises "Imperial Private Healthcare," and provides maternity guests with optional champagne toasts, afternoon high tea, and post-delivery massages, as Hello! magazine reported. The hospital also offers "hotel services" like a deluxe en suite, so your partner doesn't have to sleep in a chair, and a "safe, secure" baby nursery and acute neonatal services on site, so you don't wind up in a separate hospital to your baby if they need to spend time in the NICU.
And me? Well, I got to watch Oprah interview Beyonce on the room’s TV while eating bland hospital food.
It’s not just the maternity rooms that are different. Those with superstar status also have access to the best medical teams money can buy. That means if their babies are born sick, they can hire the top neonatal specialists to care for their newborns. Additionally, in 2016, Slate reported that not only does the United States have a high infant mortality rate, the main reason has to do with wealth disparity. That is to say, not only do pregnant celebs (and other rich pregnant persons) enjoy additional luxuries, they also have significantly better odds of not losing their young babies.
Now, if the celeb mom experience birth injuries, she can obtain the highest level of care from their OB-GYNs to ensure they don’t experience pain that lasts longer than it should (the Lindo Wing also advertises 24-hour midwife support). This level of treatment can be vital so as to not become another statistic among the 700-900 women who die annually as a result of childbirth or related complications, as reported by NPR. The only exception to this, as ProPublica reports, is seen among black women, who still experience higher rates of maternal mortality across the board. (On a side note, I was in pain for nearly a year while healing from my birth injuries. I am quite obviously no celebrity.)
Whereas non-celebrity moms have cause to be concerned about high c-section rates if they desire better odds of a low-intervention birth, well-paid Hollywood actresses and other A-listers have much less to worry over. Being a celebrity, and having a certain sized bank account, means you can make sure that the staff you pay does their damnedest to honor your wishes. While it would be amazing if all doctors listened to their patients as closely, it just isn’t always the case. This is why you end up hearing so many horror stories from birthing moms who are coerced into getting an epidural when they don’t want them, or potentially even forced into having an unnecessary c-section.
Many celebs and non-celebs alike opt to birth at home these days, but that’s also a much different experience. Someone living on a writer’s salary or who works at a restaurant can choose a home birth, but their experience might simply involve a midwife and a their bathtub. They might have to pay for many things out of pocket since supplies won’t be covered by insurance, like if they decide to get a plastic birthing tub for $200 on Amazon so as to not have to deal with cleaning their tub later (trust me, it gets icky). They might hire a local photographer to capture the moment, and they’ll likely look exhausted, sweaty, and well, real in the images.
By contrast, people like Cindy Crawford, who told Fit Pregnancy she had a home birth for her firstborn, can opt for much more luxurious home births. They can afford the fancier $1,000+ birthing tub to place inside their mansions. They can hire someone to clean it all up afterwards so they can enjoy their time with their newborn. They can hire a medical team to be on call in case of an emergency. They can hire a chef to prep them labor snacks or a postpartum meal. They can have a pristine nursery to take their newborn to for a nap, one that would put even a Pinterest mom to shame. They can afford the best midwife, the top doulas, the most talented photographers and videographers. They can have their damn stylists make them look like a million dollars to make their maternal glow make the rest of us pale by comparison. In short, their home births are nothing like what you or I may ever experience.
And then there’s recovery. Those first few postpartum days (nay, weeks) can be exceedingly exhausting and stressful. Most of us in the low- and middle-income bracket end up relying on whatever family and friends we have nearby to help us get through the early phase of new motherhood. Those who might have slightly higher means might even be able to hire a postpartum doula or nanny to help out. Director Diablo Cody is among the privileged few who was able to hire a night nanny for her third child, as we reported earlier this year.
Celebrities are on a completely different level, though. If they’re exhausted, they can have a team of folks to make sure their baby is always cared for. If they have trouble breastfeeding, you’re damn right if you think they’re consulting with the best lactation specialists. They can also afford the best formula possible for their babies if they go that route. There’s no financial constraints for a celebrity mom’s formula choices. But a low-income mom on WIC? She’s only allowed to obtain one of the few formulas that the offices have a contract with. And if your baby doesn’t like it or can’t tolerate it? All that mom can do is count her pennies to buy it herself.
Of course, there will always be exceptions. Take Serena Williams, for example. Williams' motherhood journey was profiled in an HBO Documentary, Being Serena. Self reported on some of the major takeaways, including a slew of labor complications experienced by the accomplished tennis star. Williams entered pregnancy with some pre-existing conditions which made her c-section much more complicated, eventually needing additional surgeries for blood clots and an embolism. So while many celebrities might breeze right through labor, it's important to recognize there will always be some other factors that might negatively impact a birth experience—ones that even money can't entirely fix.
Many celebrities did once live a more humble life. Others were born into the spotlight (talking about you, Drew Barrymore). There’s nothing wrong with that. But while you’re pregnant and reading about what to expect when you’re pregnant, what to expect out of childbirth, what to expect from your first days as a mom, don’t look to the celebrities. Even the celebrity moms who keep it real like Pink, who admit in an interview with the Guardian about how your sex life changes after kids, or Tia Mowry who's gone so far as to post photos of being spit up on by her baby on her Instagram, are still celebrities, meaning odds are they still have more resources than most of us combined. Instead, ask your mom friends, your siblings and cousins, the folks in your local mom group. They’ll have the best advice that’s relevant to your life.
After a very frustrating first birth experience, this Deaf mother wanted a change. Will the help of two Deaf doulas give the quality communication and birth experience this mom wants and deserves? Watch Episode Four of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below, and visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes.