Actress Jessica Capshaw knows the importance of staying healthy—and chemical-free—for her baby.
Jessica Capshaw, who plays pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, takes quite seriously her responsibility to provide her baby girl (and son Luke, 3) with a clean environment. "It's crucial while you're carrying a life inside of you," she says.
Being married to Healthy Child, Healthy World's former CEO Christopher Gavigan makes it easier to be on the lookout for harmful stuff: His nonprofit organization is dedicated to protecting young children from harmful chemicals. For example, Capshaw says, "Most people would never put their baby on her tummy to sleep, yet they have no idea how toxic that crib mattress might be."
Capshaw, 34, has been acting since her early 20s, after graduating from Brown University and attending London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She's known for not using her industry connections to get work (her mother is actress Kate Capshaw, and her stepfather is director Steven Spielberg). She's also distinctively down to earth. We talked to her just before her due date in October.
Q| You are very close to having this baby! How are you feeling?
A| I feel great! The only thing I never have unless I'm pregnant is heartburn. I have it all the time, especially now. The baby just keeps getting bigger and taking up more space!
Q| Do you like being pregnant?
A| I do, I love it—the beginning is hard, the fatigue and nausea. But between 30 and 36 ½ weeks, you start thinking, "Oh, she can just stay in there as long as she wants," because you know it's so much easier. You don't have to get up in the middle of the night, you can take a shower. Also, I love that people have manners and actually hold doors for you. It's nice.
Q| Is there anything you dislike?
A| It's physically limiting at the end. My 3-year-old has been tying my shoes for me! It was easier when I could just wear flip-flops.
Q| What are your eating habits like?
A| With this pregnancy, all I wanted to eat was bread. So I gained those first 10 pounds sooner. But I feel being pregnant is an opportunity to feed myself the way I should, as opposed to the way I have chosen to in the past. Eating every three hours, which evens out your blood sugar, and eating the right things has made me feel amazing. For me, it never has been about the weight gain. But by eating for my baby instead of just myself I only gained 25 pounds.
Q| Any weird cravings or aversions?
A| I've become a victim of smells. Odors that used to be mildly annoying—bad perfume or body odor—make me want to scream.
Q| Some women say they can't stand their husband's smell?
A| My husband always smells good to me.
Q| What are you doing to stay fit?
A| I'm very active when I'm not pregnant, but I think fitness should be a natural part of your life, not something you have to force yourself to do. So, if I get out and walk with Luke in the stroller or hike with my girlfriends three or four times a week, it's a good week. And since I'm the mother of a very active 40-pound three-year old, I get plenty of exercise.
Q| What do you worry about?
A| My worry is a sort of umbrella worry—I feel this tremendous responsibility for the baby inside me. I completely get those women who say, "I don't care about the sex, I just want to have a healthy baby." I eat for the baby, I make sure I stay healthy for the baby.
Q| What are you wearing?
A| I dress really simply—I bought two pairs of maternity jeans, a dark blue pair and a white pair. And dresses. I love to wear dresses when I'm pregnant.
Q| How are you preparing Luke for a sister?
A| We've been making a book for him with pictures of him when he was a baby, of me when I was pregnant, and we try to make sure we're not preparing him for a negative experience, like "Oh, it's going to be hard to share with the baby." Instead, we talk about how it's a privilege to be a big brother; not everyone gets to be one.
Q| You come from a big family. What have you learned from it, from watching your mom?
A| I think it's most important to honor each child's uniqueness. In my family, we had two or three "funny" ones and a couple of "serious" ones. But it's also crucial to make each child feel a part of the family and feel a responsibility to the family, and be aware of his place and his contribution. It's so vital for their self-esteem.
Q| What kind of parents are you and Christopher? Do you play strict parent/easy parent?
A| It's funny—and it was like this even when we were dating—Christopher and I sort of pass the baton back and forth. So there's really not a set situation where I'm the one who disciplines, or he is. And there will be times when, I explain patiently, "You can do it this way, or you can do it that way. Which would you choose?" Over and over. And the child just isn't understanding. So Christopher will put on his "Daddy" voice (or I will) and say, "OK, that's enough, you are doing it this way." Luke will ask, "Why?" and we put on our parenting voices and say, "Because I said so."
Q| Have you decided if you'll breastfeed?
A| With Luke, I breastfed for three months, and it was a tough go. I'm definitely going to try it again. I completely support breastfeeding, of course. But I also know that every woman is different, and you have to do what works for you. That's what will also be best for the baby.
Q| So, what about after the baby's born? Will you come back to work?
A| Yes, I like working. And I want to explore some opportunities. First, I think there is room for more great maternity clothes, I'd love to come up with a bundle of simple pieces that you could match with your own clothes. There's a lot out there already, but I want to do that, too.
Also I 'm looking at doing something with nursery. Safe, clean simple items that you fell good about putting your baby next to. So many of the cheaply made pieces are filled with flame retardants and other chemicals.
Q| How different are you from Arizona, your character on Grey's Anatomy?
A| Well, I'm not in a same-sex relationship, and I'm married, so sometimes I have to think about whether I'm getting it right or not. But I've learned a lot from Arizona; she has taught me how to set boundaries. I always think I have to be so nice, and keep being nice. Arizona will start out nice, then she'll say, "No, I'm not going to do that." It's helping me do that in my own life.
It's a girl for Jessica Capshaw and Christopher Gavigan! The couple welcomed Eve Augusta on October 20th. Congratulations Jessica!