Is it just us or has 2012 been the year of celebrity mothers with decidedly outré parenting techniques and pregnancy habits?
In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s a look at a few famous mums who have managed to raise eyebrows this year. Whether it’s premastication or placentophagy, the unconventional actions of some of these moms may be considered odd, gross or even taboo by some folks — but that comes with the territory. In the end, what these moms choose to do with their bodies and their children isn’t exactly new (or immoral). While there are many people who disagree with the practices employed by these mums, there is also a group who views them as completely healthy. And even if you wouldn’t do any of these things yourself (i.e. pre-chew your infant’s food or breastfeed past 12 months), they certainly are interesting to learn more about.
Is there a celeb mom who we left off this list? Tell us about her in the comments section.
The pre-chewer: Alicia Silverstone
Teen starlet-turned-vegan evangelist Alicia Silverstone managed to raise more than a couple of eyebrows — and trigger a few gag reflexes — back in March when she posted a home video to her healthy living website, The Kind Life, titled “Breakfast with Baby Bear.” In the video, after dining on a breakfast of “miso soup, collards and radish steamed and drizzled with flax oil, cast iron mochi with nori wrapped outside, and some grated daikon” (interesting, but we’ll stick with a heaping bowl of organic granola and skim milk, a grapefruit and a mug of black coffee), Silverstone proceeds to share some highly nutritious leftovers with her 10-month-old son, Bear, mamma bird style.
To be clear, Silverstone did not regurgitate her breakfast, but rather “pre-chewed” or premasticated it before sharing it with her son who apparently prefers pre-chewed-by-momma treats to bland pureed baby food. “It’s his favorite ... and mine. He literally crawls across the room to attack my mouth if I’m eating,” Silverstone elaborated on her website. Naturally, the sight of Cher Horowitz spitting chewed-up vegetables directly into her son’s mouth freaked out a whole lot of people with many questioning if it was hygienic.
Like her decision to star in and produce in the notorious 1997 flop “Excess Baggage,” Silverstone has no regrets about posting the video. In late April, she took to “Entertainment Tonight” to defend her premastication techniques: “I can understand that it would make some people feel uncomfortable, possibly, because it's new to them. But I do want to let you know that this has been going on for thousands of years — still going on all over the place — and it's natural.” She adds: “It's a part of the weaning process, so while I'm still breast-feeding it's just a way to introduce him to food when he doesn't have teeth … and he can't chew.”
Silverstone can be seen later this year with Sigourney Weaver and Krysten Ritter in “Vamps,” a rom-com that reunites the actress/activist with “Clueless” director Amy Heckerling. Judging from the title, it involves more around the sucking of necks than this pre-chewing of vegan cuisine.
The group bather: Gwyneth Paltrow
From hawking $425 colon-cleansing regimens to dispensing unsolicited pregnancy advice, cookbook authoress and holier-than-thou lifestyle goddess Gwyneth Paltrow (insert eye roll here if you must) has managed to both win over admirers and generate a constantly growing stable of haters with her lifestyle newsletter, GOOP. Although (mercifully) not the subject of a GOOP newsletter, Paltrow recently made waves in a February Harper’s Bazaar spread in which she commented about how she bathes every evening with her two elementary school-aged children Apple (7) and Moses (5). “We all get into the tub together,” Paltrow said.
Because this is Gwyneth Paltrow we’re talking about, reactions to the actress’s admission to hopping in what one would imagine to be a very oversized and super-luxurious tub with her children were divided, with many mom bloggers (some of whom fully admitting that they can’t stand the woman) saying that there’s nothing particularly weird or taboo about it.
“I say big whoop,” says Sasha Brown-Worsham of the The Stir. “We live in a very prudish society where nudity is basically seen as molestation, but in a family context, it's not that big a deal. People really need to relax. Personally, I don't bathe with my own children who are 3.5 and 5, but that isn't because I am worried about them seeing me nude and more because I am worried about them peeing in the tub (or worse). Besides, I am not a bath person in general (stewing in one’s own filth and all that). Brown-Worsham continues: “If Gwyneth feels comfortable bathing with her children, it's none of our business. It's their family and their rules and, in the end, her family will probably be better off for her openness.”
Shawna Cohen of Mommyish agrees with Brown-Worsham’s sentiments: “I don’t think there’s a definitive answer when it comes to nudity, and I think anyone bashing Gwyneth for her family bath routine should get over it. (Never thought I’d be defending Gwyneth Paltrow, but here I am.)”
The placenta-eater: January Jones
Placentophagy (aka the act of chowing down on one’s afterbirth): Almost every species of mammal does it. And so does Betty Draper. While not exactly the norm amongst new mothers of the human variety, “Mad Men” actress January Jones made headlines and turned stomachs in March by singing the praises of placenta consumption to People: “I have a great doula who makes sure I’m eating well, with vitamins and teas, and with placenta capsulation. Your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins. It’s something I was very hesitant about, but we’re the only mammals who don’t ingest our own placentas,” explained Jones. “It’s not witch-crafty or anything! I suggest it to all moms!”
Jones’ decision to freeze-dry her expelled lady-organ (the placenta is a member of the essential-to-developing-fetuses trifecta along with the umbilical cord and the amniotic sac as it functions to remove waste and supply oxygen and nutrients to a developing fetus) and have it ground into supplements after giving birth to her son Xander is decidedly conventional compared to other new moms who opt to go the culinary route and use it as a meat substitute in traditional dinnertime dishes like lasagna, meatloaf and spaghetti Bolognaise. Fries on the side are optional.
The big question here is why? The growing and somewhat trendy movement of Western moms who elect to save their placenta (normally, it goes straight to the hospital incinerator after emerging from the birth canal during the third stage of labor) and ingest it in pill or meal form firmly believe that, despite a lack of a lot of scientific research, it staves off postpartum depression, balances hormones and helps new mothers produce milk. The tastes-like-liver organ is also filled with nutrients and vitamins like iron and vitamin B12. Some moms have had more negative experiences with placentophagy.
And then there’s Joel Stein, who shares his thoughts on placentophagy from the new daddy prospective in a Time magazine article from 2009, back when human afterbirth consumption was decidedly more fringe-y than trendy: “There is so much you can't know about your spouse when you get married, like that one day she will want to eat her placenta. But there are two things you don't argue about with a pregnant woman: what she eats and that being full of life indeed looks sexy. So when Cassandra told me that for $275, a woman would come to our house, cook Cassandra's placenta, freeze-dry it and turn it into capsules to help ward off postpartum depression and increase milk supply, I said, ‘$275 is a bargain compared with the $20,000 I'll have to spend to tear out our kitchen immediately afterward.’”
Of course, the big question here is: What would Don Draper do in this situation?
The extended breast-feeder: Mayim Bialik
As you may have heard, Mayim Bialik, '90s sitcom star, practicing vegan, neuroscientist (!) and certified lactation education counselor, recently published her first book, “Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way,” in which she details her unconventional parenting techniques including diaper-less potty training, gentle-disciplining, co-sleeping (baby sleeps in its parents’ bed in lieu of a crib), forgoing toys, transporting children in a sling instead of a stroller, and breast-feeding her children to ages beyond what is considered the norm by most mothers (she still breast-feeds her 3.5-year-old son, Fred).
Many mothers have followed in the 36-year-old actresses’ footsteps and have experimented with attachment parenting, an instinct-driven, holistic child-rearing method developed by Dr. William Sears in the 1980s that also calls for a natural birth. Others, to cop a phrase from Bialik’s “Blossom” co-star Joey Lawrence, have only one reaction: “Whoa!”
Some proponents of attachment parenting have been quick to defend Bialik’s mothering techniques, claiming that what she does with her children is no one else’s business. But when you’re a public figure blogging about it, writing a book about it and giving interviews on ABC News promoting it, then, well, it does indeed become someone else’s business. It’s called public discourse.
Bialik, who is also a spokeswoman for the Holistic Mom’s Network and can currently be seen as Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” tells USA TODAY: “If everyone just took care of themselves and stopped worrying about what other people thought, I think a lot of this stuff would give way to intuition. That's not to say there wouldn't be women who would say, 'I don't want to be home.' There is room for that. I'm not a dictator. I'm not looking to fix the world. I'm looking to raise my kid.”
The heel-wearers: Beyoncé and Jessica Simpson
Sure, there’s been a whole lot of hoopla over allegations that the arrival of 2012’s most high-profile celebrity offspring, Blue Ivy Carter, essentially sent the neonatal unit of Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital into VIP lockdown mode complete with private security detail (in the wake of the allegations, the hospital issued a formal news release denying the mistreatment or neglect of non-celebrity patients, and even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg chimed in). But, really, maternity ward drama aside, how can you overlook new mamma Beyoncé’s choice of in-labor attire?
Adamant on wearing her trademark high heels up until the very end, Beyoncé recently told People: “I tried my best to roller-set my hair, and I wore my gloss when I arrived at the hospital. I committed to the end and wore my kitten heels.” It’s unclear if the glamorous triple threat singer/actress/dancer was actually wearing said heels during delivery, but one would imagine she’d be kindly asked to remove them.
Whether she managed to keep them on or went barefoot while giving birth, Beyoncé has a kindred spirit in dedicated heel-wearer Jessica Simpson, who vocalized that, despite protests from her doctor, she plans on giving birth while wearing 4-inch Yves Saint Laurent stilettos. Simpson told US Weekly in November 2011: “I went to the doctor yesterday and he said, ‘You're gonna need to get out of those heels.’ I was like, ‘Excuse me! I'll be delivering in these heels!’” Alrighty then. In March 2012, a super-preggers Simpson admitted that she had finally been forced to ditch heels altogether and wear flip-flops for the duration of her pregnancy. And then, of course, there’s Snooki …
In other news, Beyoncé has since started wearing flats.