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Image / Living / Culture

‘We almost died’: Gwyneth Paltrow on her two traumatic childbirth experiences


Gwyneth Paltrow / Instagram

‘We almost died’: Gwyneth Paltrow on her two traumatic childbirth experiences

The Goop founder opened up about what her experience of childbirth was like, admitting that she had quite a traumatic time delivering her first born.

Gwyneth Paltrow, though famously forthcoming about some of her more niche wellness and self-care methods, is often less so when it comes to talking about her family. One of the few times that she’s spoken about pregnancy and what childbirth was like for her, the actress admitted that she actually had quite a distressing experience. 

Mum to two teenagers – Apple (17) and Moses (15) – the Goop founder revealed that she gave birth to her children via cesarean section. Sitting down with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman – the hosts of the popular Armchair Expert podcast – Paltrow recalled the trauma she went through when delivering her firstborn, Apple.

“You know what is weird though? You don’t think about this when you’re young and healthy and everything’s good, but as you start to get older, and things go funny or you need surgery or things age and something happens, like a body part is different – there is this weird mourning that happens. It’s like there’s this weird grief. I’ve had stuff like that too where I’m like, ‘Wow’. Like, I had two Caesareans. 

“My daughter was an emergency. It was crazy, we almost died. It was not good,” she admitted. Bypassing the nitty-gritty details of what exactly went down, Paltrow then detailed the aftermath of the experience and how she had to come to terms with looking a different way. 

“Anyway, there’s a big scar across your body, and you’re like, ‘Oh wow, that didn’t used to be there’,” she continued. “And it’s not that it’s bad or you want to judge it, but you’re just like, ‘Oh my god.’”

Criticising social media for fostering unrealistic expectations of how new mums should look, Paltrow said that she’s very thankful such platforms didn’t exist when she gave birth. 

“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].’”

That’s not to take away from mothers who do revert to their pre-pregnancy bodies relatively quickly, but rather to point out that they’re the exception, not the rule. “And like great, more power to the lady with the washboard [abs], but that is totally the exception,” she later added. “We’re being fed all of these other images of what we’re supposed to look like all the time – babies, no babies, whatever.”

Going on to comment on the unnecessary pressure that tends to surround other aspects of motherhood – particularly when it comes to the age-old debate between breastfeeding vs bottle feeding – The Royal Tenenbaums star pointed out that women should be building each other up instead of tearing each other down. “I just think women really need to be friends with each other and all the judgement 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,” she commented. “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?”

Though not a topic she tends to open up about often, Paltrow did previously speak out about her experience of childbirth a couple of years ago too – revealing that she had suffered a devastating miscarriage with her third child. 

“My children ask me to have a baby all the time, and you never know, I could squeeze one more in. I am missing my third. I’m thinking about it,” she said at the time. “But I had a really bad experience when I was pregnant with my third. It didn’t work out and I nearly died. So I am like, ‘Are we good here or should we go back and try again?’” 

Telling The Daily Mail that she often felt “very broody” when around her friend Beyonce Knowles and her then one-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, Paltrow’s focus soon shifted from expanding her family to ensuring that she was as healthy as possible – all brought on by a subsequent health scare that saw her lose control of her right hand as she was hit with a blinding pain in her head. 

“I was a mess. I was vitamin-D deficient, I had anaemia, I had thyroid issues, my liver was congested, I had hormonal imbalances and a benign tumour on my ovary that had to be removed – I mean, it was crazy. I knew it was time for change,” she said of the frightening time. Cleaning out her system by way of a 21-day elimination diet, Paltrow managed to regain control of her life – and even got a new cookbook, It’s All Good, out of her experience.