Tika Sumpter Shares Her 10 Tips for Doing Pregnancy On Your Terms

The actress Tika Sumpter, who is expecting her first baby (a girl!) in early October, coproduced a movie and starred in it, and kept her pregnancy under wraps until she was seven months along. Clearly, she’s in charge—a formidable mom in the making! 

Actress Tika Sumpter Behind the Scenes at Fit Pregnancy and Baby

Tika Sumpter Fit Pregnancy Cover October 2016 Nino Muñoz
Do you think you could keep your pregnancy on the DL until two months before you’re due? That’s a trick that Tika Sumpter, 36, pulled off. The star of Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots on OWN TV, and of the movie Southside With You (she plays Michelle Obama; she also produced it with executive producer John Legend), kept the news from her coworkers for months, and from the rest of the world—including even some close friends—until her third trimester. “She’s my first child, and I wanted to experience every moment of this pregnancy for myself and enjoy it without everybody else being in it with me,” says Sumpter. “Until recently, you couldn’t tell if I was pregnant or had a little beer belly!”

Once her baby arrives, Sumpter, who lives with her boyfriend, a fellow actor whom she had not named at press time, plans to take some time off to enjoy her newest role as a mother. She’s doing this whole pregnancy thing exactly how she wants to do it, and that’s a source of strength to her. “When I walk the path I want to walk,” she says, “I feel fearless.” Find out the other ways in which she’s taking control of her pregnancy, and let them guide you to do the same. 

Confirm Things, Maybe Twice

“My pregnancy wasn’t planned. I found out around Valentine’s Day, when my boyfriend took me on a surprise trip to San Diego. I never want McDonald’s, but I was like, ‘I need a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke now.’ They were still only serving breakfast, so I insisted we wait there until they started serving lunch. Afterward, I immediately fell asleep. When I woke up, my boyfriend was like, ‘Ha-ha! Are you pregnant?’ I said, ‘Maybe. Go get a test!’ He brought back a generic-brand test, and right away it said positive. I could not comprehend it. So I said, ‘Go get a name-brand test!’ He did, and that one said yes too. I still have the stick. I had to show it to my mom, because she didn’t even believe me when I told her.”

Reject Guilt

“During my first trimester, I was nauseated all day. I couldn’t brush my teeth without gagging. I couldn’t eat meat other than burgers. The toilet bowl was my friend. Now, I just eat whatever I want. My body knows what it needs. Sometimes that’s a salad; sometimes it’s a milkshake, Frosted Flakes, or Kit Kats. I haven’t been working out either. After I walk my dog around the block, I’m so exhausted that I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m going to lie down.’ But I don’t care. There is nothing I feel guilty about.” 

Tika Sumpter Laying Down in Blue Dress Nino Muñoz

Set Your Own Priorities

“One of the first questions my mother asked when she found out I was pregnant was ‘Are you going to get married?’ I’d love to, but maybe in a year or so. I’ve been with my boyfriend for more than a year and a half. Our relationship is not dependent on a ring. I love him to death, and he loves me to death, and that’s all that matters to me.”

You Can Keep It to Yourself

“I didn’t want to hear, ‘Who’s the dad? Are you with the dad?’ Social media can be harsh, and I’m a mama bear, protective of my family. So that’s why I waited to tell people, including some friends. My friends weren’t mad at me. They said, ‘You did it the way you wanted to do it. You’re an inspiration.’” 

But Eventually Tell Your Boss

“It’s hard to be pregnant, because you get scared about your job. I even felt worried about telling my agent and manager. Then when I was five months, Tyler Perry [her boss, the creator of The Haves and Have Nots] texted me, ‘Are you pregnant?’ Inside, I was thinking, ‘Oh, my god, how did he know?’ I wrote back, ‘What are you talking about? You’re crazy!’ But when I saw him that afternoon, I told him. He just said, ‘I knew it! Tika, this is going to be the best time of your life.’ I feel lucky that he’s been so supportive.”

Tika Sumpter Sitting in Chair by Pool Nino Muñoz

Remember You're Still You

“I’ve never felt passive in my pregnancy, like it’s something that’s happening to me. Sure, I have a human being growing inside of me, which is different and amazing, but I’m still me. You don’t have to melt away just because you’re pregnant.”

Your Doctor Is on Your Side

“I had a fibroid, which was dormant until I got pregnant. When my baby started growing, the fibroid did too. At five months, the pain was so bad that it brought me to tears. It felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly with a knife, and I was scared for my baby. My mom wanted me to go to the hospital, but I called my doctor first. She calmed me down and reassured me that my baby was safe and prescribed medicine to relieve my pain. Little by little, I got better. My baby’s not even here yet, but I like to think she’s already kicking butt. She’s like, ‘Excuse me, fibroid. You need to die now.’”

Tika Sumpter in Orange Dress by Door Nino Muñoz

Embrace Your New Curves

“My belly feels heavy. My back and thighs ache. I’ve gained 15 pounds so far, and what’s weird is, I feel sexier than ever. There’s power in carrying a human life.”

Set Goals, but Be Flexible 

“In my dream birth, I’d maybe have some contractions and then my baby would come out with Bach playing in the background, my boyfriend holding my hand, and my doula rubbing my back. In reality, I realize it may turn out differently. Giving birth naturally would be great, but my boyfriend knows that if I say I need drugs, then I need them. I have a high threshold for pain, but it’s not like I win anything for putting myself through that. Plans are just plans. I know everything can change.” 

Teach Your Children Well

“There’s so much I want to teach my daughter, including humility, grace, forgiveness, and understanding. I want her to know her worth and that it’s okay to walk into a room and say, ‘Yes, I’m smart and amazing and I have ideas.’ I want to teach her how to be a boss.”