Chrissy Teigen on Birth After Pregnancy Loss: “You Breathe a Sigh of Relief”

Updated: Mar. 21, 2023

About a private parenting choice, Chrissy Teigen told us: “I believe in science and ... the advancements of the medical community."

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Chrissy Teigen was less than two months postpartum and still recovering from a Caesarean section after giving birth to her third child—a daughter named Esti—with John Legend, when she spoke with us on Zoom, dressed in a white tulle top, looking completely camera-ready.

Things don’t slow down when you’re Chrissy Teigen. There are events, busy kiddos’ schedules and a business to run: Teigen is preparing to expand her brand Cravings—which currently includes recipes, cookbooks, cookware, baking mixes and more—into packaged goods.

Teigen spoke with us about the decision to carry another baby (in 2020 at 20 weeks pregnant, she experienced the heartbreaking loss of her son Jack), why she decided to do cord banking for her daughter, and the chaotic and beautiful time with her family of five.

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Chrissy Teigen on motherhood

The Healthy @Readers Digest: First of all, congratulations on the birth of your third child. How has motherhood felt different this time around?

Chrissy Teigen: You just go into it fully confident. Honestly, I’ve grown so much in the past seven years since having Luna and just knowing that things are always going to be crazy and things are always going to change and good days will turn into bad days and bad days will turn into good days. You’re just ready for anything at all times. You’re football holding one baby, cooking with the other and catching Miles with a spare hand. Everything’s happening and it’s chaotic and it’s fun and our house is just blissful and booming right now.

The Healthy: I had two C-sections and I was personally shocked by the aftermath of how horrible I found being awake during surgery. You made a funny joke on Instagram about how you still need diapers after a C-section, which was very relatable. What was your experience like with this birth?

Teigen: When people knew I had to have a C-section, they were like, “You’re gonna love it.” It’s this exact day and this and that, and I was like, “Oh, this must be super easy.”

Part of going in was easy, and I do love that I got to see both a vaginal and a C-section delivery—but the aftermath of it was really surprising to me. You heard rumblings of like, They take out your organs and put them on the table. You hear things like that, but you don’t really know what’s real, or maybe your doctor wants to not freak you out so they don’t tell you that stuff.

It was a surprise to me the healing process of that large wound after, and learning that just because it’s numb doesn’t mean that it isn’t still healing. I felt that since it was so numb that I could do stairs and I can hold this and lift that, but no. You really have to be kind to yourself and listen to people and be gentle with your body for a really long time. I’m almost two months out of it now and I still feel the numbness of it and it’s still healing. The magnitude of a surgery like that is actually—even though it’s a very common surgery—it’s still a very serious thing and it’s tough on your body and we kind of try to be heroes about it and pretend that it wasn’t.

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The Healthy: Yes, I think it gets downplayed a lot in society and nobody talks about the C-section scar massage or the need for pelvic floor therapy.

Teigen: For me, looking at the shape of a profile in a mirror and seeing a 90 degree angle come out of my belly—you don’t really hear about that much. I won’t sugarcoat it when I explain it to people. I’m not going to be like, “Do a C-section, it’s so great!” I’m gonna explain from beginning to end what they’re going to have to look forward to.

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The Healthy: I also found a lot of your posts while you were pregnant really relatable, because I had two high-risk pregnancies and a miscarriage. You wrote about the relief of every single doctor’s appointment. How was this pregnancy experience for you—and any advice you’d give to people that are also in a high-risk pregnancy?

Teigen: When I made the decision to carry a baby again on my own, it was coming from a place of like, Listen: I’ve been through the worst. I think I know that together as a family, if the worst does happen, we can handle it together, because that’s just what we do. We are very open and honest with each other about everything, about our pains, our struggles, our losses. I knew it would be OK, on that front.

And then from then on, it was just having a really trusted amazing OBGYN who led the process and led the charge of creating this amazing team around me where I was really looked after, luckily. A lot of people do not get to have that luxury to have an incredible team of women. And Dr. Huang was incredible: He was our IVF doctor who was just so amazing from the very, very beginning. It really made all the difference. These were the same people that helped me through that miscarriage as well. So they were all rooting for us just like it was their own.

The Healthy: That’s so great.

Teigen: You breathe a sigh of relief and you almost go into [each appointment] expecting the worst because that’s the kind of the place that your mind goes to when you want to protect your emotions so you’re not too surprised. But getting to go to those appointments and seeing that everything was OK and breathing that huge sigh of relief when you see the little flicker [of a heartbeat]. It’s like, Don’t say anything to me until you just tell me that it’s OK. The doctors knew that that was the first thing I wanted to hear.

And once you make it past that little hump and the 24 weeks and then you know that it’s gonna be OK, that was everything to me. That’s when I started bringing the kids to my appointments and seeing her in my belly. It was really beautiful and fun.

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Chrissy Teigen on cord banking

The Healthy: That’s so wonderful. You’ve partnered with Cord Blood Registry (CBR). I did cord banking with my first son and from what I understood, it’s sort of like an insurance policy that you kind of hope you never have to use. But for those who don’t know much about what cord banking is, tell me a little bit about it and why you decided to do cord banking?

Teigen: I’m so glad you had heard about it, because I think the saddest thing that can happen is that people don’t know about the option to do it. Luckily, we have incredible doctors, and it was mentioned to us early on with Luna. So that’s like seven years ago. And when I had heard about it, I was all in because we have done IVF and I believe in science and I believe in the advancements of the medical community. Anything that was science-backed, I knew I’d be all in. It couldn’t be easier. You bring the CBR cord blood collection kit to your doctor—I had it packed in my baby bag just perfectly. I handed it over to my OB,  and it was all taken care of from there. The worst thing to happen is missing out on that short window, that tiny opportunity that you have to do it, which is immediately after you have a baby.

It’s fascinating to me that they can just clip a few inches off the umbilical cord, and be able to keep all these millions of incredible stem cells and cord blood tissue and be able to treat 80 different conditions right now. And of course, that number is going to change as the years go on. To be able to take that and bank on that for your family and for yourself and for your children’s siblings, that’s just something that we really wanted to take advantage of. I really just want to get the word out and want people to know that this is an option.

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Chrissy Teigen on mental wellness

The Healthy: So you’re still postpartum, but in general, what are your self-care routines or rituals that you do every day that you refuse to skip?

Teigen: I would love to be the kind of person who got into meditation. I have a therapist that I speak to twice a week … via Zoom on Thursdays and in person on Sundays. That’s kind of the only real time that I have one-on-one with somebody to talk about things; to talk about my week or my fears or insecurities. I might be getting a facial or massage now and then, but there’s still a million other things going on … I still have Miles poking his head through my massage hole and I still have a murder documentary on while I’m doing it. It’s not exactly where it should be.

I’m a firm believer in mental health, taking care and preserving your brain capacity for people that really matter, like your family and your good friends.

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The Healthy: Mental health is absolutely self-care.

Teigen: If I get the chance to spend some one-on-one time with Luna or Miles, or Esti, I take advantage of that time. That can be so rare because they have so many different events and sports and parties and celebrations going on all the time that I want to take advantage of those moments. I’m like a lot of other moms in the way that I consider self-care things that make me happy and my kids happy all at once. I’m still getting used to that old slogan that you can’t give everybody else your all if you don’t take care of yourself. How do you give other people things if you’re not feeling whole, and energized and complete? I’m still learning all about that too, and trying to balance. So for now, it’s just a good amount of therapy—talking it out.

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