Ashley Graham: ‘No one talks about the recovery and healing’ postpartum

Ashley Graham and her husband, Justin Ervin, welcomed their first baby on January 18. Ashley tweeted two days later that the baby had arrived, although she didn’t share any other details about him:

On Tuesday, Justin and Ashley introduced their baby to the world on Ashley’s Pretty Big Deal podcast. They talked about her Vogue cover shoot and about Ashley’s pregnancy and her home birth. Ashley went to her yoga class after her contractions started until her water broke! Toward the end of the half-hour, Justin brought the baby over, and he and Ashley introduced him in unison: “Isaac Menelik Giovanni Ervin.” Isaac was a name that Justin had picked out in high school for his hypothetical future first son. Ashley shared that they chose Menelik after visiting Ethiopia last Christmas. Menelik was the name of the first emperor of Ethiopia and means “son of the wise.” Their friend Anthony had suggested the name Giovanni, the Italian translation of John. Both Ashley and Justin have grandfathers named John, and John was also the name of the founder of the church that Justin’s parents “got saved and baptized in.”

While Justin was getting Isaac, Ashley showed off the postpartum underwear that she is “obsessed with.” She also posted on Instagram about them, and how they’ve been a lifesaver the past couple of weeks:

On her podcast, Ashley says that she calls them “diapers” because, “I change my diaper and then I change [Isaac’s] diaper” and that they are comfortable on her “booty,” and, she says very emphatically, “the parts that are still hurting.”

I skipped around the episode, but I love watching Ashley and Justin chat together. They’re both relaxed and happy, and you can tell how much they adore each other (and baby Isaac)! I also love learning why people choose the names that they do for their children. My actual name doesn’t have a very interesting origin story, so I always appreciate it when people choose meaningful names for their babies.

I’m also glad that Ashley is still being incredibly real and honest and open about her experiences postpartum. She amplified important conversations around changing bodies while she was pregnant, and I’m not surprised that she’s continuing to talk about her experiences as a new mom. Congratulations to the family of three!

Here’s her podcast queued up to the part where they bring their newborn on.


Embed from Getty Images

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45 Responses to “Ashley Graham: ‘No one talks about the recovery and healing’ postpartum”

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  1. Aims says:

    I glad that she’s talking about this. I was a mess after I had my kids. I was leaking and hormonal. I was sleep deprived, swollen and forgetful. I was so happy to have had my babies, but I wasn’t myself for almost a year. I felt like I was in the eye of the Hurricane.

  2. Cat says:

    Glad she’s so candid about it. The first few weeks are rough on your body: pain everywhere, it hurts to sit down, boobs are huge, and you are sleep deprived. I’m expecting my second child in April and hopefully l’ll be a tiny bit less surprised with this aspect of motherhood this time around.

  3. Joanna says:

    Aww, they are so sweet! So much love for each other, is nice to see

  4. naomipaige99 says:

    Personally, I cannot stand this chick. She’s so friggen annoying. Next!!!!!

  5. Erinn says:

    Truly, I don’t understand how mothers do it. I am in absolute awe, because – just like she said – NOBODY talks about this. And I’m in my late 20s now, I didn’t grow up with a big family with small kids or anything. My friends are having kids, and I’m reading articles about how horrible things can go… and it freaks me the hell out. SO much.

    Even simple things, I didn’t realize – like how (obviously) you’re not going to immediately go back to being tiny after giving birth just because the baby isn’t there. I don’t know WHY that was a surprise for me because logically it only makes sense lol. But it’s a testament of how little this kind of thing is discussed, I suppose.

    To all the moms out there – you’re freaking badasses.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think it’s something a lot of people don’t know. I was at the grocery store and the cashier asked the woman in front of me when she was due. In a very hurt voice, the woman replied that she’d had her child over a week ago.

    • Shirleygailgal says:

      NOT GOING BACK TO MY ORIGINAL SIZE AFTER THE BABY WAS TAKEN OUT WAS (OOPS) was my first big surprise. An emergency cesarean was a surprise. How much my boobs hurt (engorged, then nipples cracked and bled)…I figured I’d be a natural feeder but boobs had other ideas. Home for 2 days, then hemorrhaged..back in for a D&C. SO MUCH PAIN. Because of pain, so many unhappy feelings and confusion. And his dad pouting because I wasn’t sexy or offering to ‘take care of him’ 10 days later (he left when the kid was 20 months old). I can say with all honesty it was easily 24+ months before I even felt CLOSE to my own self, and my rib cage and hips never did return to size 10. Ever. I had to go back to work when he was 4 months and we had just STARTED to get good at breast feeding, but once he had a bottle, he rejected the boob (he’s still kind of lazy, in truth). Sometimes 36 years later, I feel like I`m still suffering post partum depression. I was UNPREPARED and alone and lonely and … sad, very, very sad.

      • Gatorlover says:

        Wow, sorry to hear.

        We are talking more about labor pain, sleep deprivation, partner stress, nursing problems, PPD/PPP – each in isolation. But the many ways multiple things can come together to cause tremendous suffering are astounding.

  6. Eliza_ says:

    I’m lucky to have candid friends and I’m honest when people ask about recovery because there’s so much BS responses out there. I’m 2 months out from my second delivery and it’s amazing how different recovery is when you have a toddler – quicker by far and you’re prepared for the mess you become. But I was completely caught off guard by the cramping/contractions when you nurse the first week. It was so painful, and they told me it gets worse with every kid. My friends with multiples had c-sections so they were still on painmeds and didn’t get to feel those lovely pains. So that was my surprise the second time around.

    • Kate says:

      I’ve given real answers to my friends without kids who asked, but I just don’t think it’s possible or desirable to go around telling every woman who doesn’t have a baby or who is pregnant about all the painful/messy/stressful things you have to deal with. I think plenty of non-parents are scared enough by the lack of sleep and demands of babies and it feels mean to be like ohoho! just you wait until you have to change your own diaper and you’re in pain and cramping and swollen and leaking and maybe you even get mastitis and on top of it you’re taking care of this helpless extremely needy new person whom you would die to protect and you’re scared you’re doing it wrong and you’re googling 25 baby questions a day. I mean…

      ETA this isn’t necessarily a response to Eliza I accidentally posted it as a reply

  7. Kat says:

    Ok, it’s nice that she’s open about her experience during and after pregnancy. But can this idea that “no one talks about healing after pregnancy” please stop. Women and mothers speak openly about this with each other all the time. I don’t need a celebrity acting like women were completely ignorant until they came along. I spoke extensively with my own mother, my ob/gyn and other mothers and midwives before, during and after. I feel like this idea that we need to turn to social media and famous women for knowledge is so odd.

    • Snowslow says:

      Uhhh nope. You are VERY lucky. Do not underestimate certain prevalent and large cultures of ‘you’ll bounce back in no time’ and ‘it’s gonna be fine’ + silence.

      • Fallon says:

        Have to agree with Snowslow. I don’t have a mother or female relatives in my life to speak on these things, and I was among the first of my friends to have children. I wasn’t able to have a midwife and my ob-gyn wasn’t really available for long chats. I found out the hard way, by living it. I speak openly on it now, but I didn’t have the resources you did and lot of it was a surprise, even with the internet available to me. These conversations and awareness are important.

    • FHMom says:

      I agree with you. We are so lucky to have her and Chrissy Teigen to educate the ignorant masses.

    • Sarah says:

      Sadly Kat, I feel like you are the exception rather than the rule.
      I remember when Kate Middleton had her first baby, SO many people were surprised she still had the big belly and all that. They really expected her body to snap back, like she had not given birth 20 minutes ago. People can be really ignorant about pregnancy and the post-partum period.

    • Leskat says:

      I agree with you! I feel like this is all people talk about on my friendship circles, on TV, on blogs, in podcasts, on the news, in articles. It feels like the past 10 years or so, with the rise of social media especially, all we do is talk about post-partum issues. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING. But I was not surprised or shocked about anything that went on my with body or mental health after I had my babies because I have heard so many people talk about it. It’s good to keep these things out in the open but the next time some celebrity has this revelation that your body can still look pregnant after birth or that you will be bleeding or that there will be more tears from you than from baby, I’m going to lose patience because OF COURSE!

    • Earthbound says:

      +1 Kat. It’s like someone isnt a real mom instagrammer if they’ve had a kid and HAVENT talked about the postpartum time, shown pics, and shared usually a lot about their healing process, vulnerability throughout it, etc. And it’s great. But to say “nobody talks about it” just isnt true. You hop on instagram you’re GONNA see some gals talking about their postpartum bodies. From the fitness guru to the crunchy-homeschool to the fashionista mommies.

    • Shirleygailgal says:

      I feel like you were very lucky … and Instagram, Twitter, heck, even the web wasn`t around 36 years ago when I birthed my babe. I try to be a joyful support to the new mums in our building (heck, I even scrubbed their toilets and washed the bathroom floor) to help (whilst diminishing my personal experience so as to not add to the poor woman`s burden). To this day, I get Valentine Days cards from one family! Also, somehow, when celebrities are open about their experiences, we acknowledge their humanity as well as our own. They know they are photo-shopped and presented in a `perfect`way. Sometimes, we don`t understand the difference between what we see in a magazine vs what we see in the mirror. Particularly as younger women.

    • Lorri says:

      I just don’t understand the ignorance in this day and age with both old-fashioned books and the Internet available. Mothers-to-be used to read books and knew what to expect! I guess everyone just stopped reading the books.

  8. YIKES says:

    My teenage son sort of laughed at first when he was with me at a store and he saw me get a pack of adult diapers in preparation for having my 3rd baby (i agree, i am SO thankful for disposable underwear!!! At 39 my body took way longer to recover). Then i explained to him about what happens to a woman after delivery and he understood why i was buying them. He was very receptive about it and surprised to learn such new information. I hope these lessons help him when he is building a family of his own and he can be a strong support for his wife. He’s seen first hand how long it’s taken me to recover post partum and how demanding it is to care for a newborn. Both my husband and my oldest son have been a great support system for me and our new addition. I couldn’t do it without the sensitive and supportive men in my life. Being open and frank lets them understand the challenges one goes through. My father and first husband were such jerks by choice, though. I lucked out with my now husband and my oldest son.

    • hereforit says:

      I was gonna say, skip the big undies and just get some Depends for the immediate postpartum period. So much easier and more comfortable! They are also nice to have on hand if your water breaks at home/before the hospital.

      I also wish the conversation around “postpartum” would extend beyond the first 6 weeks, or even the “fourth trimester.” I am six-months postpartum with my second child and I feel like my “postpartum” period has never really ended. Between breastfeeding my first, getting pregnant again, being pregnant, and now nursing a second, my body and mind have been on a constant rollercoaster for 4 years. I did not start to feel any sort of normalization until about 18 months after my first. Then I got pregnant again. The mental, emotional, physical and personal changes the first year+ after having a baby can be as seismic as those the first few weeks. But it feels like while the conversation around those early weeks is, thankfully, becoming more prominent, after a certain point women are expected to be their “old selves” again…get back to work, get back in your old pants, get back to your old personality, and don’t complain for fear of looking incompetent, uncommitted, ungrateful, whiny, or crazy. I would like to see this change.

  9. Sarah says:

    These things were not talked about openly in the media years ago when I was going through them, but I see it a lot now…maybe because it perks my ears up? But I don’t think “nobody is talking about it” is the scene either. Very glad mothers these days have more info than ever before. Support the new moms in your life, folks – they’re really going through it, no matter how it looks on the outside.

    • Allergy says:

      Agree, people do talk about these issues but it’s just that before it becomes your problem you might not pay attention. It’s like anything with kids, you know everything “afterwards”. It’s difficult. I think if you have sisters with kids, or close friends with kids, you might be more aware of what’s coming.
      My physical body recovered fast, but I never ever got over the sleep deprivation. And it’s been over fifteen years! Tired tired tired.

  10. Momof2rats says:

    It seems to me that everyone talks about this these days! The agonies of childbirth and recovery are all over forums, Instagram, social media, etc. not to mention all the moms out there that told me to my face. Women have gone through this from the beginning of our time, but it seems like suddenly we have to make such a huge deal about it like it is something completely new. I imagine it was much worse even decades ago when women didn’t have the drugs and special pads and such. Women had many more children and were out working out on a farm after just given birth! And they had no one to talk to about it except maybe their mom.

    It is trendy to whine about it these days. It was rough for me, especially sleep deprivation. But it comes with having babies and worth it!

    • AmunetMaat says:

      I honestly had no idea. People said unhelpful things like, “oh expect a lot of blood” or “don’t sleep when the baby sleeps/sleep when the baby sleeps” and get a pad and netted undies. NO ONE told me I would be bleeding no stop, that my body would be backed up, that I would feel open and leaking all day. NO ONE told me that I would have aches all over or that it would feel horrible bending over (C-section) to put basic lotion on. NO ONE told me the deep particulars. I wish they would. It’s not whining to mention these things, and to make sure new mothers are aware. I think it’s becomes most of postpartum is so disgusting in a way, and the real truth you need isn’t really covered because who would want to share how their 1st poop went after baby?

    • AMA1977 says:

      I hate this attitude of “it used to be worse, so suck it up!” It’s so unsupportive and patriarchal. Yes, many women generations ago had to return to manual labor (although there are still women in our society who also have to) but they also had the benefit of closer communities and other women around (sisters, aunts, mothers, grandmas) to help with the baby and tend to the mother. Many people don’t have that community anymore. And yes, my kids are worth all of the discomfort and pain and mess and stress, a thousand times over. But acknowledging the negatives doesn’t take away the positives.

      My dad was my savior with my first; he came over almost every weekday morning once my husband went back to work so I could take a shower or put in a load of laundry, he made me get dressed and took me and the baby to lunch, then walking in the park, and he was just THERE. My mom was working and he was retired, and it meant SO MUCH to me to just have another adult to help for a little while. There were days where I just sat in a recliner with the baby all day, afraid to move, because he had colic and I wasn’t sure what would set him off. I had PPD, undiagnosed, and didn’t realize it until my second came and it was so. different.

      All of this is to say, I’m GLAD women are talking about this in public, out loud. We need to support each other. It’s HARD and MESSY and LONELY, and when you think you’re the only one going through it, it can be so, so painful. TV and magazines and social media show all the sweet, quiet, happy, calm moments, and those happen and are wonderful, but a LOT of the first few months is feeling like you’re going to die from exhaustion, everything hurts, leaking from all sides, haven’t showered in days, baby won’t stop crying (that newborn cry still makes me panic for a second and my youngest is 7) and you just CAN’T. If even one other mom knows that she’s not the only one because of celebrity moms talking about it, then it is helpful.

    • Lorri says:

      I think what shocks me about the “no one talks about this” stance, is that ALL of it is talked about if you read pregnancy books. Does no one read them anymore?

      Seriously, if you don’t know you’re going to bleed for a month afterward, did you read anything?

      I don’t get it. Everyone I knew read the books and knew roughly what to expect.

  11. Sophie says:

    My husband asked me if there was anything he could gift me after I have our 3rd baby, and I asked for a bidet toilet. Postpartum recovery is so so rough.

  12. AmunetMaat says:

    Yes! I FULLY support the adult diaper advice. I felt like people barely covered postpartum advice when I was pregnant and man it through me all the way off. I had no idea…I was sooo unprepared. I tell anyone who listens: adult wipes, EVE body wash, spray lotion (if you can find it), adult diapers (for me was better than the padisicle), and some form of constipation medicine you should be taking at least the day you leave the hospital, and Raspberry Tea.

  13. Starkille says:


  14. Originaltessa says:

    My mother came to the house the week I was due with like a cubic yard of Depend underwear, a jar of tucks pads, and Epsom salts for my sits bath that I didn’t yet know what one was. I didn’t know what a hemorrhoid was either, only heard about them in commercials. I looked at the freaking load of disposable underwear and gasped! She told me, “oh yeah, btw, you’re going to be wearing these for at least 6 weeks.” Had no clue!

  15. Gil says:

    I think is good nowadays we are taking about the realities of womanhood. I haven’t had kids yet but I have a complain about my teenage days. No one told me how messy periods can be and how I would loose my favorites panties to it. It’s important to raise awareness about the female experience and how our bodies can be messy or complicated but still beautiful.

    • Originaltessa says:

      I had so many mishaps with my period as a teen. I was 14 when I got mine for the first time, and that’s on the later side, and I was so immature to handle all of that blood by myself! I can’t imagine the younger girls 10-11 year olds trying to deal with that crap. It wasn’t until college where I really started to get a handle on things. Panty liners, super plus tampons, pads at night. It’s so expensive. But my underwear thanks me.

      • Gil says:

        Thank you for being so honest! I always thought I was a dumb ass during my teen days for “wasting” so many panties 😅

  16. Brooksie says:

    I just had my first baby on Jan 24 and I can relate to all of this so. well. I had no idea I’d be leaving the hospital with a bag full of mesh undies, pads, ice packs, Tucks pads, hydro cortisone cream, Peri bottle etc. Just taking a pee was a 15 minute ordeal. I found myself feeling jealous of my husband and how easy peeing was for him haha. Then pile on the hormones and lack of sleep and wow, I’m a mess. Each day is an adventure and my sweet girl makes it all worth it, but it’s clear after reading posts like this, and all of the comments on posts about the Frida commercial, that PP recovery is a topic that needs to be discussed more and more!

  17. Jamie says:

    I wouldn’t say no one talks about this stuff. I feel like I’ve recently seen a lot of celebrities posting pictures of themselves in these mesh underwear you get postpartem. Do they think they are so unique and special to have had a baby? I’ve had four kids and only usually wore the mesh things for a few days in the hospital when bleeding was heaviest. They’d give me these ice pack things too to help with the swelling. After going home, I was able to wear just regular underwear with a really big pad – the hospital always gave me extras of those to take home too. If you read any books about what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth, you’ll know that bleeding is really heavy for the first few days and that it’ll go on as long as a month (though more like a normal period after the first few days). The nurses in labor and delivery have always been really helpful in explaining what to expect, too. Before you are pregnant, do you really need to know all this detail? There is a lot of stuff in life you don’t know much about until you experience it so, shrug.

    • Kate says:

      Yeah I don’t really get how knowing every detail would help you other than just add to your list of things to be afraid of and worry about before they are a problem. I was already sooo worried about the taking-care-of-a-baby part b/c I never was around babies before that if I had to hear about how hard C-section recovery would be in detail and how unpleasant breastfeeding and pumping could be and how chronic lack of sleep can affect your mind and emotions I would have just been a walking tank of cortisol for 8 months. I think as long as you have a general notion that it will be physically very difficult and emotionally trying and if you get advice from nurses/doctors when it’s go-time then that’s enough!

  18. Texas says:

    Except, don’t mother’s all talk about that? God knows we sure did when when my group was having kids. As well as my doc and all the pregnancy books I read.

    That is not say it wasn’t difficult because it sure was.

    • minx says:

      Agree. It’s like hearing “nobody talks about menopause” (my age bracket), when they ARE talking…but not everyone is tuned into it. There was no internet when I was having kids, now there are so many resources.

  19. prettypersuasion says:

    I felt like this was true when I had my first baby almost 15 years ago. Now it seems like the conversation is everywhere. Is she not paying attention or is it a “new mom” thing where you just don’t notice it until it you experience it?

    • Miss America says:

      Exactly. Not my experience at all. Even men get involved in this conversation. I don’t think it’s not spoken about at all. I think it’s very out in the open. Even in dinner conversation my friends and I joke about these things, we’re not hush hush let’s pretend we’ve never bled or worn gigantic post-partum pads etc. Our husbands are kept away from us, they see it all. It’s an open conversation honestly.

  20. Miss America says:

    Literally having just given birth to my second baby yesterday, sitting in the hospital snuggling. First of all, I do feel like when I talk one on one or in mothers forums, women are honest and candid about post-partum recovery. Often like too candid sharing photos and stuff. I don’t think there is a huge taboo around it. Obviously it’s not glamorous and Victoria’s Secret model mommies are posting themselves in Depends, but anyone who asks what to take to the hospital I’m always shouting Depends from the rooftops. All that being said, that way “unglamorous” side, has not been my personal experience at all. Beyond wearing disposable underwear for five days, my body doesn’t droop and sag and feel pain and look all that different at all (I’m 32 btw). I’m not saying it’s better or worse, just my reality. Some women do tend to have a lot more difficult experiences in pregnancy and post-partum but I personally have had zero issues with either and I think it’s okay to admit that and not dismiss that as well. I feel lucky to cope so well, I know it’s not a lot of women’s experiences, but they’re just as valid.

  21. Deeanna says:

    Here’s a tip from 50+ years ago: Purchase a “firm control” stretchy girdle two sizes bigger than what your normal size would be. Take it to the hospital with you. Wear it every day post partum from morning until bedtime.

    As your body shrinks in size, wear a smaller size girdle. You will end up returning to your prior shape faster and will have less stretch marks.

    I did this for two births and it worked for me. Taught to me by an aunt.