If you follow Shawn Johnson East on social media (and if you don’t, you should), you know the Olympic gold medalist and Dancing with the Stars champ and her husband, pro football player Andrew East, have been no holds barred about her pregnancy. From sharing the heartbreak of miscarriage to her pregnancy announcement to fears of complications and even her thoughts on gender reveal parties (for the record: You do you, but she’s keeping the sex of her baby a surprise), the mom-to-be is taking her fans along with her on this crazy adventure called pregnancy.
SheKnows had the chance to sit down with Johnson East recently at an event for Philips Avent and discuss all things pregnancy, and she’s just as honest and engaging IRL as she is on her YouTube channel. Read on for her candid thoughts on everything from pregnancy cravings and prenatal fitness to the one thing she feels confident about when it comes to Baby East.
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SheKnows: What has been the most surprising thing about pregnancy for you so far?
Shawn Johnson East: I’m a control freak so having no control.
SK: That’s hard.
SJE: Yeah. Pregnancy is the most humbling experience I’ve ever been through in my entire life. Just because your body does what it wants, the baby does what it wants, it’s just, there’s no control.
SK: Was there one early pregnancy symptom that clued you in or was it just a total surprise?
SJE: So, two years ago, we got pregnant and lost that baby, but I remember texting my nutritionist saying, “I think I have a stomach bug because every time I eat, my stomach gets really upset.” And she couldn’t get me in for a week or two and [in that time] I figured out that I was pregnant. I remember telling her, “Oh, I don’t think it’s a stomach bug, I think I’m pregnant!”
And this time it was the same thing. I would be sitting at breakfast and I would eat something and my stomach would get really upset and it was kind of consistent, across the board with food and I was like, “I wonder if I’m pregnant?” And I was!
SK: And you were! Do you have any funny pregnancy stories about your experience so far that you can share?
SJE: [Laughs] What kind of details do you want? There’s a lot! My husband is 6’3″ and 240 pounds and I live in his T-shirts — it’s just what I wear around the house, and I remember sitting at our kitchen table doing work in his T-shirt and I looked down and I had [leaked] milk already, which I didn’t expect. I didn’t know that was a thing in pregnancy, and it kind of grossed my husband out. He said I’m not allowed to wear his shirts anymore!
SK: Ha! He might need to get used to that. Speaking of breastmilk, in one of your Instagram post comments you mentioned that you’re hoping to breastfeed…
SJE: Yeah, I would love to breastfeed. It’s something that my mom tried to do, and she was unable — I was allergic to milk, as a baby, so I had to be formula-fed from day one. I know at the end of the day it’s going to be the baby’s decision and my body’s decision and I will do whatever I can for my baby, but in a perfect world, yes, I would love to breastfeed.
SK: Are you having any pregnancy cravings?
SJE: Bagel sandwiches, that’s about it. I haven’t had any weird cravings or anything but I really like my bagel sandwiches these days. Eggs. Sausage, cheese, avocado.
SK: A good bagel breakfast.
SJE: Oh, yeah.
SK: You’re here with Philips Avent and Dr. Natasha Burgert — what have your biggest questions been for her?
SJE: Literally, everything. I feel like I’m a very, just new, naïve parent. So with Dr. Natasha I was like, “Do you have to take bottles to the hospital? When do you start bottle feeding? Or do you bottle feed? How early? How much does your baby eat?” And just, every question known to mankind about mom-parenting. So I’m learning everything.
SK: You and Andrew have been really open on Instagram and YouTube about your whole pregnancy experience. Has sharing helped you during this nerve-wracking time? Because you’re nervous and Googling crazy, horrible things when you’re pregnant.
SJE: I think so. Because, sitting in a doctor’s office and being told you have a two-vessel cord that could cause stillbirth, or could cause your baby not to grow or to be told the baby’s kidneys aren’t filtering fluid and it’s just all these different things, your first instinct is to go to WebMD and Google what this means and, of course, it’s all bad and you think the worst and you worry. So for us posting, it was kind of us asking for personal stories: Has anyone else gone through this and what did you do and how did you feel and how did you cope…
Hearing a personal story connects you so much more to reality and it kind of comforts you in knowing that you’re not alone. And for us, it was definitely just a way to kind of build that community and feel like we had other people supporting us, who’ve gone through it and knew how to kind of coach us through it.
SK: And did you find that people were sharing stories?
SJE: Absolutely. I mean, I had multiple women who had just been diagnosed with the two-vessel cord and had done the crazy thing that I did, which was Google it on WebMD and were terrified by what it said. It’s good to know someone else is going through it and I had some very prominent people who are friends of mine who would text me and say, “I had two-vessel cord babies and they’re all healthy and good.” It was very comforting because going to the doctor can be scary.
SK: Is there anything else that you found has been helpful that you’re doing to keep your nerves under control?
SJE: Texting my friends every single day who have babies. Asking if this is normal and that’s normal and what to do. But, having just my friends in my community that kind of coach me through it.
SK: Have you and Andrew talked about how or if Baby East is going to feature in your influencer lives?
SJE: We’ve started talking about it and we’re unsure, I think it’ll be a trial and error process for us of just figuring out how much we’re going to share or not. We both have built a very thick skin to social media and kind of figured out how to filter it and we understand it, but a baby is a baby, and they don’t have thick skin. And they can’t defend themselves. And as parents, we’re already very defensive and protective over our kid and so we’re very hesitant, we don’t know how much to share. I know we’ll share a little bit, it’ll be more so about us as parents than it’ll be as our kid. Yeah, I don’t know. We can’t decide yet.
SK: All right. There are, obviously, tons of things that you need to buy and prepare for when you’re pregnant. Do you have any favorite products so far?
SJE: Honestly, I was told by my friends early on to take stock in these things — a Soothie Snuggle, I think that’s what they’re called. So I have a million of those, from friends who’ve already bought them. Outside of that, I’m still kind of figuring it out. I’m still finishing my registry. I’m very behind. Haven’t started honestly, so I’m under-prepared but I’ll figure it out.
SK: What about for pregnancy? Any pregnancy essentials?
SJE: I bathe myself in oil every night. I don’t care about stretch marks, but I’m just trying to prevent them, if possible.
SK: As an athlete, obviously, fitness is super important to you. Can you talk about what type of fitness routine you’re doing right now?
SJE: I actually have a doctor who really encourages me to just continue doing what I was doing. So weights, high intensity interval [training]. She said as long as I’m not upping anything that I did before, she encourages it. So I have a trainer who comes to our house two or three times a week and I do a 45-minute workout and just try to continue what I’ve been doing.
SK: Parenting-wise, is there anything that you feel like you already kind of trust yourself on? Do you feel confident about anything right now?
SJE: No. Not at all. I feel like, with every decision that has to be made I’m probably going to go with my gut feeling, because there are so many opinions and varying sides of what you should do and what you should not do. I feel like my ‘momtuition’ hopefully will kick in then, but…not too much confidence at the moment. I’ll love my baby, I’m confident in that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.