Motherhood is tough—just ask Hilary Duff.
To the benefit of fellow moms everywhere, the Younger star has been publicly candid about her experiences having two children over the years—the good, the bad and everything in between. In a new conversation for The Motherly Podcast, the actress opened up about it all, starting at the beginning with her pregnancy with her first child at 23 years old. As she explained, her perception of motherhood at the time had been based on what she saw from her parents.
“I guess I thought like you’re a real adult once you have a baby. But, that looked very different than how I looked. Like, when I think of my parents when I was like ten or so, I feel like they looked so old even though they didn’t,” she explained. “My perception was like, ‘Oh, you have all the answers and you know all the things. Everything you say goes because you are God.’ I think that very quickly when I became pregnant that shifted into like, this is just me, but I’m going to have to be that person to somebody. I guess I’m saying it in a very simple way, but I very much felt like myself and a little fearful that I wasn’t going to have all the answers…It looked like maybe an older person’s job to be a parent.”
The following year, she welcomed now-7-year-old son Luca Comrie with ex-husband Mike Comrie. “It was a little isolating in the beginning because I didn’t have any friends that had babies yet,” she recalled of being a mom in her industry. “But I had been working for such a long time that it felt like a natural step for me and I always knew I wanted to be a mom and I always knew that was going to be my number one priority in life. So, I felt ready on some fronts and a little scared on others, but really I only got scared once I was pregnant, you know, thinking like, ‘Oh this is actually really happening. What if this? What if that?'”
Once the little one arrived, Duff’s experience was beautiful and shocking simultaneously. “I did feel like after I had him, I lost a big chunk of my identity for like maybe the first year and a half, but I don’t think that was a negative thing,” she said. “At times, I was sad about it, but you know it’s full on. I don’t remember setting him down for the first three months of life. I was obsessively googling things and I just took it really seriously that I didn’t realize how all encompassing it would be. I knew it was the most important, biggest job in the world but you know, it looks very different once you’re just in the household with the baby by yourself all the time. It was shocking and it was also the happiest, most beautiful experience, so those two things butting up against each other is quite a strange mix sometimes.”
Despite all the many challenges motherhood brings, Duff pointed out the power that the role gives you.
“[Once] you do find yourself again, you have the biggest thing under your belt that nobody can take away from you and you’re so powerful and you’re so confident. So, I did spin it as a positive thing because sitting in it when it was happening maybe I was a little sad about it and I didn’t feel like I had anyone to go through the experience with, but then I came out on the other side. I’m like, I’m freaking super woman and I can do anything and I have confidence for days, and you know all of that. There’s so much good that comes along with it.”
However, one of the bad parts—particularly for celebrities like Duff—is the focus on a new mom’s postpartum body. After giving birth, the star stepped out to buy new parts for her breast pump and was photographed in the process, spurring reports.
“I remember the headline. It was like, ‘Hilary Duff Debuts Post-Baby Body’…It was no debut. It was like, ‘I am so happy to see other humans right now and just leave the house for a moment’…So it was a bummer for sure and I felt myself like trying to hide behind my bag. I had just had a baby like twelve days before…I don’t know what any other experience is like. I just know what mine is like, but…I think at the time I was embarrassed and now I could just like rage on those people and just be like, ‘How dare you? What are you thinking treating a new mom like that?'”
Meanwhile, Duff had her own feelings about her body amid all the changes.
“I had a love-hate relationship with my pregnant body. There’s days where I felt beautiful and I couldn’t believe the miracle that my body was creating and you’re climbing a freaking mountain every day to create a human being. It’s so beautiful and I would feel powerful and strong, and then there’s other times where I’d turn around and look and be horrified by the back of my legs or my butt or whatever…the size of my boobs had gotten to,” the actress explained.
“It’s scary and foreign and then once you have the baby, which is like the most happy moment of your life, you look down and you’re like, ‘Oh no. Now I have the pressure to work on this.’ It’s really tough and it kind of like pairs up with the loss of identity in the beginning where you’re like, ‘Oh my God, all I’m doing is thinking about which boob I fed on the last time, how many wet diapers he’s had,’ and I’m making notes all day. This is like crazy. Then, none of your clothes fit or some pregnant women spit that baby out and they look like nothing’s ever happened to them and I’m like wearing compression and have a muffin top.”
It’s through that range of emotion and change that the star thinks it’s important for moms to remember: “Everything takes time.”
“It took time to build the baby and that’s a very obvious thing to say, but really, I try to remind myself that all of this stuff is a blip in time,” Duff said during the interview. “I think about Banks [Duff’s daughter]. She was colic—that three months went by. It was hard as hell. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, but it was a blip and now she’s through it and my clothes are finally starting to fit and I’m cool with that. It just takes a moment. We have to stop looking to other people and look at ourselves for being incredible instead of always comparing, comparing, comparing.”