We checked in with The Bump cover girl and star of The Chew to see how she’s adjusting to parenthood and what it was like to go back to work after maternity leave. Plus, her advice on what to eat during the new-mom phase.
The Bump: How have you adjusted to being a mom?
Daphne Oz: Can I just say, it is so much harder than I imagined! I had three younger siblings and liked to joke that I helped raise them, but you really have no idea what a juggling act motherhood is until you have your own. You just care so much, and want everything to be perfect. And even though you know it never can be, you keep trying your best. It’s never enough!
I think the biggest change and challenge for me was coming to terms with the fact that being a good mom is not something you can read up on or learn from a distance. You have to jump in headfirst, and get your hands dirty. It's really something you just have to live and enjoy in the moment and allow yourself to grow into. Becoming a new mom has been the most challenging thing I've ever done, and the most fun.
TB: All new moms have a first "OMG I'm a mom!" moment. What was yours?
DO: Right after Philomena (Philo) was born, the nurse put her on my chest and we made eye contact. She was totally alien, and totally familiar at the same time. I remember looking up at my husband and back at our daughter and just feeling overwhelmed with love. But you haven't lived until you've been pooped, peed or barfed on by your own child. It's just hysterical — and oddly, not that gross.
TB: You went back to work on The Chew about two months after her birth. How was that?
DO: To be honest, I had no idea how hard going back to work would be before I gave birth. When the time came, I was anxious about leaving our little nest — I hadn't been apart from Philo for more than an hour or so ever. And I definitely didn't feel like I was "back to my old self" after the first eight weeks. I still couldn't keep a train of thought on track. Baby brain is no joke. And then I got back to set and everything just felt like home. My co-hosts and the team at The Chew are like family, so that made it much easier.
But I also began to realize I wasn't going to be to my old self ever again. I'm a new, hopefully better, version of me now, with lots more to care and think about, and a lot more personal knowledge too.
TB: We love Philomena's name! How did you come up with it and the cute nicknames, Philo and PBJ?
DO: My husband and I had names for a boy and girl picked out, since we didn't find out the gender in advance, and Philo was one of our favorite girl names. Once we put it together with her middle name, Bijou, and saw how cute her initials would be as PBJ, we were sold. But we also kept an open mind because I'm a big believer that babies have to fit their names, so we wanted to leave leeway in case she was just so not a Philomena.
TB: What parenting advice has your dad, Dr. Mehmet Oz, given you?
DO: Right after Philo was born, my dad told my husband and me that raising children will take more time, energy and devotion than anything else we do, and will make us prouder and happier than anything else we do. He also is constantly reminding us to have tons of fun with it. He is such a playful parent and invented tons of games and stories for us as kids, and I know it made him sad when we grew out of that phase. He can't wait to get to do it all over again as a grandpa!
TB: What nutrition advice do you have for new moms?
DO: I really struggled at first to figure out the best foods for breast milk production, to balance energy on little-to-no sleep, and, most importantly, what kinds of fast meals I could eat one-handed. The best piece of advice is to never turn down a free meal — if someone offers to cook for you, accept!
I would make big batches of slow-cooked oatmeal (spend 20 to 45 minutes on the steel cut variety for even better milk results, but make enough that you only have to do it once or twice a week) and chicken barley soup with mushrooms and carrots to keep in the fridge for fast, easy meals. I ate a ton of sweet potatoes with olive oil, or stuffed with avocado and baked salmon — healthy fats are especially important for baby's developing brain. I found protein was really valuable for energy too, and relied heavily on fast omelets with whatever I had lying around the fridge: Goat cheese, black olives, spinach and onions is a favorite right now.
My husband has really stepped up his game too. He makes an incredible Asian-style baked salmon with ginger, soy sauce, lemon, honey and scallions. As Philo gets bigger and is happy to hang out in the bouncy chair in the kitchen with me, I'm looking forward to trying out some new recipes I've had on hold.
TB: What is your favorite baby gear item so far?
DO: I don't know what I would do without my baby carrier. It's the only thing that will soothe Philo if she's overtired or just needs a little extra skin time. I have a BabyBjörn that I love, but I also ordered an Ergobaby and a Solly Baby wrap to try. I think they're all great for different reasons; some are better for babies at different weights and stages, and it also depends on mom's body and how she prefers to carry that weight. An added bonus is that Philo only really naps if she's being walked around in a carrier or stroller — I think she's kindly giving me a way to try and work off some of this baby weight!
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