Being Mama: Daphne Oz - TheTot
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Being Mama: Daphne Oz

The co-host of ABC’s The Chew, author, and natural foods chef – and of course, mama to two young children – talks to The Tot about pregnancy plans gone awry, getting kids into the kitchen and why motherhood is magic.

Daphne Oz

“Before I fell pregnant with my daughter, Philomena (Philo, who’s almost two), I had all these plans to cleanse and drink tons of green juice and just prepare my womb for the cleanest pregnancy possible. I wanted to be in great shape and go to acupuncture. I was going to do yoga EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I had all these thoughts about what I needed to do to get ready, and then one day I went to see my OB-GYN because I hadn’t been feeling well. She makes you take a routine pregnancy test every time you go to her office, so I was sitting in the exam room and when she came in, she just said, “Congratulations!” Because I was already six weeks along, we were able to hear a heartbeat on the sonogram – I was in shock and overwhelmed with love and excitement all at once. At the time, my husband was away on business. I’d planned to keep it a surprise for when he got home from his trip, but as soon as I got him on the phone he could tell by my voice that something was up – we ended up celebrating a few thousand miles apart over the phone, him in an airport and me on the street in NYC, but it couldn’t have felt any more special to us.”

“I’m going to put my hand up and say I love being pregnant. I know a lot of women have mixed feelings about it – these kick in for me when I start trying to get back into shape (hell!). But pregnancy feels like such a wonderfully powerful moment in a woman’s life: you are growing new life, you are so in touch with what your body is craving and how it is functioning. There is nothing I love more than feeling my baby kick and move inside me – that connection is bliss. When I fell pregnant the second time, with my baby Jovan (John), Philo was 10 months old, so I while I missed those lovely afternoon naps and baths and quiet I had when I was pregnant with her, the tradeoff was that she became my little nurse, always checking my belly and my boobs and my butt – she was absolutely fascinated with my body changing, and she became a little mommy overnight when he was born. She’s my sidekick.”

“I was anxious about the transition from Philo being the baby to being a big sister, but she just loves John. She carries her little doll with her everywhere, and mimics what I do with John – it’s the cutest! And John is obsessed with her! He is constantly watching her and babbling when she’s around, I can’t wait to watch them grow up together.”

“I went back to work when Philo was eight weeks old. I definitely could have used more time – my brain wasn’t really firing on all cylinders for a few more months. I constantly found myself losing my train of thought or not being able to think of what I wanted to say – not ideal on TV!”

“The transition back to work was sometimes wonderful – I appreciated the adult time, and love what I do – but sometimes I felt terrible. I don’t need to explain mommy guilt to anyone reading this, but I will say that what worked for me was committing to being 100 per cent efficient and on when I was at work, and 100 per cent with my babies when I’m at home. I just felt so unhappy all the time – when I wasn’t with my kids I felt bad, and then I stressed about the work I needed to be doing when I was with them. Making the effort to do one or the other 100 per cent means that even if I miss an extra hour with my children to finish something at work, it means that the time I do get to have with them is maximized and the most fun.”

“I never anticipated how much stronger my relationship with my partner would become as a result of having kids. Being parents tests every part of who you think you are, and it has made us feel so lucky to have one another, and so grounded in our marriage as the foundation of our family. This was a big priority for us: to make sure our kids knew they came into our family, and that our partnership is at the core of that.”

“We’re pretty relaxed when it comes to parenting. I like to get messy with my kids. We play a lot, and we love to be in the kitchen together. Summertime is for art projects outside where we can spread out, and hopefully a huge rainstorm that we can dance around in and get soaking wet! I try to make up for the time when I can’t be with them because of work by being consistent with rules and also trying not to make too big a deal about things that don’t really matter.”

“As a mother, I see my first job as being the person who provides unconditional love and a solid foundation for my kids to grow, so I try not to expect my kids to be little versions of me. I found it totally amazing how much of a fully-formed personality babies are born with – my daughter is exactly the way she was as a baby, and I’m excited to see whether my son turns out the same way as he is now. I’m an Aquarius, and my daughter is a Pisces – she’s very emotional, funny, sassy and a wild spirit. My son is a Libra, and he’s the most chilled out, happy little baby – all he cares about is immediate physical comfort. I did have readings done for both of them when they were born. Whether or not you believe in that stuff, it’s kind of a fun way to see how to pay attention to the areas they are going to need more of your love and support, and the areas you can kind of let them figure themselves out – and teach you a lot along the way.”

“I’m really passionate about getting kids into the kitchen and learning about food from an early age. Don’t worry about the mess! Play fun music – we’re big fans of the Pandora station “In The Jungle”. My daughter would bang on pots and pans at my feet until she could stand, and now she has her own little kitchen where she ‘cooks’ all day. It’s hysterical to see the mannerisms of mine that she’s picked up – everything gets lots of salt!”

“If your kids are picky about food, don’t force the issue. I think the worst thing you can do is make it a battle of wills and egos. No kid will let themselves starve. Just make healthy items the bulk of what’s available, and lead by example. I let my daughter eat the things she loves, and don’t make a big deal about it if she refuses to eat what I’ve made her. But I am also not making three different meals each night to satisfy her toddler whims! She usually wants to eat what her dad and I are eating anyway, but she has those nights where she’s being impossible, and then I just give her cereal and milk and plan to start fresh the next day.”

“This year is going to be busy. I have a new cookbook coming out in the fall – it’s a collection of my favorite simple, delicious (and healthy!) foods for celebrations. It’s like another birth! I’m very excited. But mainly, I just want this year to be about more time to really enjoy these tiny humans.”

Daphne’s maternity style

“With Philo, I was very pregnant in the fall, so I wore a ton of stretchy black leggings and maternity jeans and long cashmere sweaters or blouses that covered the elastic part. I found most of my maternity items at Zara, Asos, and Destination Maternity, but I also just bought up a few sizes in “regular” clothes and was able to wear them until I got ginormous! With John, I bought two long, flowy dresses with beautiful necklines at Zara that I wore all summer long. The fewer seams and least amount of fabric, the better since I was hot all the time.”

Daphne’s must-have pregnancy products

  1. Saucony and Nike sneakers: a fashionable sneaker is every pregnant woman’s dream. I walked everywhere as my main exercise, so these were essential. Also: one long, form-fitting stretchy dress or jumpsuit in black for nights out, and stretchy leggings, long t-shirts, and layers for day! I found my temperature fluctuated all the time.
  2. Magic Bullet blender: I made fruit, veggie and yogurt smoothies pretty much every day as a way to get in maximum nutrition first thing in the morning (so that I could eat Mexican food for lunch every day, guilt-free), and a healthy dose of calcium and probiotics. I also would add extra essential fatty acids and protein right into the mix with flax seeds or chia seeds, or additional supplemental greens and nuts/seeds.
  3. Coconut oil: this is all I used to take my makeup off at night (warm it between your hands to liquefy, rub all over your face, rinse away with a washcloth and warm water), and to slather all over after a shower or bath. I couldn’t avoid chemicals in the TV makeup I wear every day for work, so I made sure to keep my homecare regime as natural as possible to avoid exposing the baby to unnecessary toxins.
  4. Essential Oil Diffuser: I used this one from Now Foods, and would constantly have lavender or citrus or sage and mint smells pumping through the house. I even brought it into the labor room with me – it worked wonders to soothe and relax me while I labored.
  5. Hand weights and a yoga mat: My second pregnancy, I was better about remembering to stretch regularly, and to try to get a few lightweight arm exercises in each day. Hand weights are easy to bring to work and use at your desk for a quick break. Carrying a toddler around is also a pretty solid arm workout, but it is rough on the back as your core starts to go…that’s why you need the yoga mat. I wasn’t strict with myself, and if I could only get 10 minutes in right before bed, so be it.

Daphne’s top five tips for new mamas

  1. For your little ones, you actually don’t need much: I made the mistake – TWICE! – of over-buying things in a newborn size that neither of my children could ever wear. You’ll need white onesies, oversized swaddle blankets (Buttermilk Babies are the best – supersoft bamboo and oversized so baby is comfy in the swaddle), burp cloths, Seventh Generation or Honest diapers and wipes, Aquafor (this stuff is the bomb – no diaper rash ever!), a Boppy nursing pillow, a car seat (both my kids loved the Orbit for the first three months, then we switched to the Chicco KeyFit), some blankets (Aden & Anais Dream blanket is dreamy), a stroller (the Orbit while they’re in that little car seat, and then we switched to the Bugaboo and LOVED it) and a crib and carrier (Solly Baby is great until they’re about 12lbs, then I switch to the Ergo).
  2. Shea Moisture Raw Shea Mommy Soothing Nursing Balm: It’s amazing for sore nipples, (and also works great as an emergency hair styler for split ends and to give a little texture in a pinch).
  3. Belly Bands: Honestly, I did not appreciate how much a weakened core was going to throw off my back after my first pregnancy, so I made sure to have a bunch of these on hand in a variety of sizes after I gave birth to John that I wore right away for support and to start reshaping my midsection back to normal.
  4. Baby DeeDee sleep sacks: I didn’t have this with Philo, but John has been sleeping 7-8 hours through the night at 4 months old, and I think it’s because this keeps him so cozy but gives him room to kick his legs around now that he’s becoming mobile.
  5. Pilates: All my friends who somehow had their core back at three months postpartum made dedicated trips to a core-strengthening pilates class a few times a week as soon as the doctor cleared them. Ballet Beautiful incorporates some pilates techniques and offers great classes you can take online that really force you to engage your core and start to retrain those muscles. I need to get better about doing both regularly – for now, I’ve just been soaking up time with my kidlets, but I will get there!!

Daphne’s favourite children’s clothing labels

“So many! Carter’s white onesies. Kissy Kissy sleep sacks. I love Zara Kids and Gap Kids for everyday play clothes. Roberta Roller Rabbit for PJs. Little Minis for the cutest rompers and ruffle dresses. Sapling Organic for the best onesies and pants sets. Rachel Riley for little English girl dresses in feather-light fabrics. Isabel Garreton for gorgeous confections. Dolce & Gabbana and Stella McCartney for splurge outfits.”