Daphne Oz and Hilaria Baldwin know that sometimes the best remedy for a tough day as a mom is simply talking to other moms. Whether it’s an hour-long vent session or a phone call asking for advice, talking about parenting with someone else who truly gets it can be calming — and a reminder that you’re definitely not alone.
That’s why Oz and Baldwin decided to create a podcast dedicated to that very idea. Mom Brain is exactly what it sounds like: a deep-dive into every single corner of motherhood, ranging from the serious moments to the hilarious ones, and everything in between. “We wanted to bring our normal girlfriend conversations and include the communities that we've grown on our [social media] pages, and be able to do it all the time,” Baldwin tells Refinery29.
Oz, who hosted The Chew for six years, adds that the idea behind Mom Brain was to bring the proverbial “village” into the digital world. “We can make it so much richer and deeper by being able to have these conversations on the podcast,” the mother of two says. “Some of them are weird and awkward...but some of them are really deep and powerful.”
Baldwin adds that Mom Brain aims to “normalize these conversations and feelings that we all have.” The yoga instructor and author has four children with Alec Baldwin, and is also a stepmother to the actor’s daughter, Ireland. Baldwin has long dreamed of creating an online network for parents who don’t necessarily agree on everything, but can learn from one another anyway. “We want the people who are part of our community… to comment and say ‘Hey, you know what? That resonates with me,’” she says.
Mom Brain launched at the beginning of October 2018, and has featured a variety of celebrity guests ranging from Sheryl Crow to Rebecca Minkoff. With new episodes every week, Baldwin and Oz take listeners on a different journey each time — but one that always feels like a comfortable and familiar conversation with your best girlfriends. “I think people will listen and say ‘Wow, I felt so alone in that, I thought I was the only one,’” Oz says, adding that she hopes it will “give [listeners] such a sense of community and solace that it's something so common.”
And that’s exactly what Mom Brain does. In one episode, Oz and Baldwin talk at length about postpartum bodies, and how sometimes what we see on the outside doesn’t reflect what’s happening on the inside. Some moms struggle with postpartum depression (PPD); others might experience Diastasis Recti (a separation in the abdominal wall that can occur after birth). As a new mom myself, I was nodding along while listening, as though I were on the phone with my best friend. Everything Baldwin and Oz said made sense; as a society, we’re conditioned to believe that all bodies should “bounce back” after pregnancy, thanks to the countless of headlines that celebrate such a phenomenon. With so much focus on the exterior of a mother’s body, we sometimes lose sight of the many other challenges that occur inside — and it’s important to talk about them and to normalize them, and make others feel less alone.
Refinery29 had the chance to catch up with Oz and Baldwin to learn more about their podcast, their dream guests, and some of the best advice they have for their listeners.
What do you wish someone told you about motherhood before becoming a mom yourself?
Oz: No one told me about some of the more challenging bits, but I'm kind of grateful that they didn't. Because you get to just experience it your way...you have to be willing to accept how difficult it is, see your own limits, and then go past them. But it's hard, it's really hard! It's overwhelming, you're sleep-deprived, you're so hormonal, you're isolated in many ways. Someone relies on you for life, literally. And in that moment, it can also feel interminable. Everyone's always like ‘Oh, it goes so fast, and it's so precious,’ and in that first month, you’re just like, ‘When is this gonna end? When am I gonna feel like a human again?’ But nobody can do that for you, and that that makes it a very personal experience. But because of that, it's okay people didn't tell me about it.
Baldwin: If somebody told me it's going to be okay, that would've been a lot of help. New parents, they should be nervous! You're about to do the hardest thing possible, which is to care for another human being when they're at their most vulnerable state. Your animal instincts will probably take over as soon as you meet your baby. That was something that somebody could have told me: ‘Trust your instincts. If you have questions, ask them. It's going to be so amazing and so magical, and it's going to be okay.’
You talk a lot on the podcast about the importance of preserving your sense of self, pre-baby. What advice do you have for moms who are trying to reconnect with that part of themselves?
Oz: I think it's so important for women to remember that becoming a mom makes you version 2.0, and then I think every time you have a new child, it's version 3.0 and 4.0 and 5.0 of yourself. And that reveals new and better layers, but it doesn't mean you lose the old parts of you…. Your priorities shift, you have to readjust everything, but bringing your kids into the parts of your old life that you love, and sharing those passions with them, I think [that’s] critical…. A lot of moms I talk to feel so guilty about that. Things as small as a 15-minute workout feel like such a luxury. Taking a shower, eating a meal that's not standing up, or hovering eating your kids' leftovers. But these are just basic human needs. The more you make that a priority for yourself, the more your life as a mom, as a parent, can build around those things.
Baldwin: We say it so many times: ‘You have to put your oxygen mask on first.’ Of course, there are those times when we do have to stay up all night, and our kid has a fever, and we have to put all of our needs on hold. There are those times. But if we can live our regular day feeling not as defeated, and if we can make that an okay thing, then I think that we've definitely helped.
Given that you both have such a big social media presence, have you experienced mommy shaming at all?
Baldwin: I’ve shown the progression of my body [on Instagram] while I was pregnant, and then the progression of it once I've had a baby…. We all have different shapes and sizes, but I want to normalize it. Most of [the comments] is ‘this is a beautiful thing!’ But some people will say, ‘Put your clothes on! You're a wife! Did you ask Alec's permission?’ That one's one of my favorite ones: ‘Did you have his permission?’ I'm like ‘It's 2018, like really?’ And to be quite honest, he takes most of the photos anyway.
Oz: I think both of us have done a really good job of weeding [negativity] out on our personal channels, just because we don't stand for it. We don't tolerate it. A lot of what we share is so vulnerable and so real and authentic that I think that comes through, and people are like, ‘I might not agree with it, I might not like it, I might not have done that for myself, but I get that this is how you do it.’...Hilaria and I are such curious people, and we spend so much of our lives thinking about this role of being the best parents we can be. And we make a lot of mistakes along the way, and we're not shy to share those things.
You’ve already had a roster of interesting guests on Mom Brain. Have any of them changed the way you look at parenting?
Oz: Rebecca Minkoff...was our first guest on the podcast. And she said something that I thought was so powerful and resonant for moms everywhere...it struck a chord with me. [She said] to “set boundaries, not balance.” And I think that that is such a powerful change of words, where everyone always says ‘You can have it all!’ Until you feel like someone that's supposed to be juggling, and you don't know how to juggle…. The idea of boundaries is the idea that you are allowed to say, ‘It's 8:00 at night, I'm not going to answer any more emails so that I can enjoy half an hour with my husband uninterrupted.’
Baldwin: I loved how Adam Grant talked about how he incorporates his kids into problem-solving. That was an incredibly life-changing experience for me. He'll present them with a problem like: ‘Oh, hey, I'm really nervous about going onstage. What do you think I should do?’ And now I stop and I ask my kids all the time — even if I already have an answer, even if I feel pretty confident in what I'm doing — I love to start to see their thought process, and have them give me advice. And by doing that, they feel appreciated, they feel respected, and their mind starts to work in a different way, where they're really starting to be compassionate and think about other people, and putting themselves in other people's shoes.
Do you have a dream podcast guest?
Oz: I want Michelle Obama to come on!
Baldwin: That would be amazing. How can we make that happen?