Four months into her life as a mom, Shay Mitchell is "still figuring it out" — and she's letting other moms know that it's okay if they are, too.
The former "Pretty Little Liars" actress welcomed her first child, daughter Atlas Noam with boyfriend Matte Babel in October 2019 and, while she has let her fans and followers into her journey as a mother, she admitted that she's still in the process of striking a balance between what to share and what to keep private, what to fix and what to let go, what to figure out on her own and what to lean on her support system for.
At the end of the day, though, it's knowing that she even has that safety net around her that lets her know that it'll all be okay.
"Having that really close-knit group of friends and people in my community to be able to fall back on and have a conversation with around whatever I’m thinking about makes it so much better and so much easier to be like, 'I’m not the only person feeling this way,'" Mitchell told In The Know's Gibson Johns while promoting the Pampers "Share the Love" campaign. "That’s all it is. It’s all about reassurance."
Read our full interview with Shay Mitchell about being a mother, traveling with her daughter, why she decided to jump back into work and that breastfeeding photo below:
ITK: Four months after Atlas's arrival, you're partnering with Pampers on its "Share the Love" campaign, which is all about moms supporting one another and helping fellow moms to stop worrying about whether or not they're doing a good enough job. Do you find you're hard on yourself as a mother?
Shay Mitchell: Every single day. It’s a constant reminder to myself that I’m doing the best that I can, everything is great and that she looks at me like I’m Superwoman. Every single day there’s something new, where you’re like, "Am I doing this right? Could I have done this better? Is it fine if I leave her for this long?" You have no idea, and I’m always thinking about how something could impact her as she gets older. Having that really close-knit group of friends and people in my community to be able to fall back on and have a conversation with around whatever I’m thinking about makes it so much better and so much easier to be like, "I’m not the only person feeling this way." That’s all it is. It’s all about reassurance.
Still being early in motherhood, how do you decide what to share and not share? It's a common dilemma for moms in the public eye, especially because fans can often feel entitled to being brought into the exciting moments. How did you broach that balance?
I’m still figuring it out, and we still don’t really know. I went and posted some photos of her, then I fell back and then I was like, "Well, she’s a baby, she’s not gonna always look like this and she’s going to change so much, so maybe that’s fine." I have no idea, and there’s such a fine line of what to show and what not to show, but at the same time, I don’t think she’s going to come back to me when she’s older and be like, "Why did you share that photo of me when I was a baby?" She looks adorable right now, and I’m so proud of her! I’m just going to do what feels right right now, and that could change. If I stop putting photos up of her in the future, then I stop, but it is what it is. It’s the same thing with anything in my life: With relationships, I didn’t talk about it for a long time, but now I do. It goes in ebbs and flows.
One of my favorite photos that you've posted with Atlas was that epic photo of you posing while breastfeeding her. It was, like, Beyoncé level!
Thank you! That wasn’t even planned!
Everyone was like, "She got all dressed up to take a breastfeeding photo," and it was like, A., So what if I did? and, B., I was in a photo shoot for myself and Atlas was there with me, and I fed her and it was just such a beautiful moment that was captured. It was very interesting to see the conversation that was had about that photo.
Sometimes it's simply all about starting that conversation…
Now look at us! Look at Ashley Graham with her boob out. I love it.
Does this partnership with Pampers and having conversations like these give you a better appreciation for your own mother and what she did for you growing up?
Every single day I call my mother and I’m like, "I’m sorry!" [Laughs] Absolutely. Moms out there in general, no matter if you have a huge team or no team at all ... it’s difficult.
Over the past several years, part of what you've become known for is your epic travels, and I saw that you already took Atlas on a trip to Paris. I presume that you won't be able to travel as much, but how will your travel plans change now that she's here?
One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is all of the places I can go and re-see through her eyes and take her to some of my favorite places. I’m so excited about anytime we can take a plane together. For some people that’s really daunting, but if she cries, she cries, and I have no shame about it. It’s like, "Sorry! I have a baby, and you cried too when you were on a plane when you were a kid." It’s been so much fun bringing her to a new place. My fun little buddy gets to check out a new place she’s never been to before, and it’s my favorite thing in the world.
It also must be fun to just show her new things — big and small — in general!
Absolutely. It’s so exciting, and I talk to her like she can fully understand. [Laughs] I think she might be able to.
In addition to doing things like your work with Pampers, you're also jumping back into acting work with the upcoming show, "The Cleaning Lady," which your production company is developing. Talk to me about your decision to return to work when you did.
My decision was about, look, first and foremost, she’s my No. 1 priority, so everything that takes me away from her has to be worth it. I’m so, so fortunate that with my work, it’s something that I love. Truly. Whether I’m working on Beis, the diaper bag, this campaign with Pampers, getting to be an executive-producer now on the show, I love everything that I’m doing right now, so it doesn’t feel like work. It feels really fulfilling, and it allows me to feel like myself — like how I was beforehand — and I want to be that example to Atlas: [You can do] whatever you want to do. If I had chosen to stay home and not work, then that’s what I chose to do, but it’s my decision. Right now, my decision is to work, as well. Being an executive producer on this is super exciting, because it’s a whole new role. It’s cool to flip the switch and see this from a different perspective.