The Quality Nancy O'Dell Wants to Pass Down to Her Daughter

The entertainment journalist's inspiring parenting advice

Nancy O'Dell from Entertainment Tonight Getty Images

Nancy O'Dell, co-host of Entertainment Tonight, author of Full of Life: Mom-to-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant, and mom to 7-year-old Ashby, tells us what surprised her most about motherhood, the qualities she hopes to instill in her little girl, and more.

What surprised you most about becoming a mom? Everybody says motherhood is a love like you never knew. I thought that was a cliché, but now I so get it. I never really understood the saying that you're in love with your kids because I thought of love as a romantic thing. But you love their fingers, their smell, and everything they do is cute. Until you experience this love, you don't know what it's like.

You created an app called Little Ashby: Star Reporter. Is exposing your daughter to your profession important to you? I wanted to have a female reporter because I think it's great for girls to understand that they can grow up to be strong career women. I don't necessarily want my daughter to be a reporter; she should be what she wants. Maybe a vet; she loves animals. But I wanted her to be exposed to the fact that it can be fun to learn. The reporter in the app is very curious, and that's so important to kids—to ask questions, to be curious, to love life. That's what childhood is about. That's how I try to be as a parent, particularly as a professional reporter myself. The other day, Ashby asked, 'How does a baby grow in the belly?' And she asked how the baby eats. I explained the umbilical cord. Kids deserve an honest answer. Answer their questions to the best you can. When Ashby asks a question, the first thing I say is, 'that's a great question' because I want to encourage her curiosity.

What would you say to women who are nervous about new motherhood? I was terrified at first. My husband was like, 'there's no instruction booklet that comes with kids, but you'll know what to do.' It's hard to believe, but it does come naturally. Still, ask questions. Go to your best friends who have children, and ask them what surprised them during their first year of parenthood.

What's the best piece of parenting advice you wish people had told you? Keep cameras in every room! Even disposables. Important moments happen quickly, and you can't ask a baby to recreate them. I also wish I'd known that baby poop is different colors. I panicked when I saw that and realized 'oh ok, that's normal.'

Another thing: Nobody told me how to breastfeed. It's actually very technical. You need to know how to master the deep latch technique, so you don't feel sore. Hire a lactation consultant before you have the baby—you want to breastfeed properly from the start. Two weeks in, I found out I was doing it wrong!

When do you find time for yourself? Early in the morning: I'll get up at 4:30 or 5:00, and run on the treadmill. I'm a big believer in multitasking, so I watch the nominated movies or TV shows that I need to for work. I do that early because when I come home from work, and I have a few hours before bed, I don't want to miss the kids because I'm working out.