Melissa Joan Hart and Merck for Mothers Raise Awareness About Maternal Mortality
In September, actress Melissa Joan Hart gave birth to her third child, Tucker. After giving birth, Hart teamed up with Merck for Mothers’ “Once Upon a Birth” campaign to raise awareness about maternal mortality worldwide and to find solutions for safe and healthy pregnancies. Recently, Parents.com had a few moments to chat with Hart about the partnership, her recent pregnancy and birth, and what it’s like to raise three boys.
Tell me about your partnership with the “Once Upon a Birth” campaign.
I partnered with Merck for Once Upon a Birth. Eight hundred women die every day as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, mainly because of hemorrhaging and preeclampsia, and 90 percent [of those deaths] are preventable with the right prenatal care and knowledge. For every story shared on the Merck for Mothers Facebook page, Merck will make a donation to Join My Village, one of the many programs that will help reduce the risk of maternal mortality. The UN wants to reduce the rate of maternal mortality by 75 percent by the year 2015, so Merck has made a pledge to commit 10 years and $500 million to this cause. They’re going to train women, husbands, and midwives in villages around the world so they can be more educated. Children won’t have to grow up motherless, and mothers won’t miss watching their child grow.
What’s the birth story you shared with Merck for Mothers?
I was trying to be really well prepared [about giving birth to newborn son, Tucker] for weeks beforehand. Every Sunday, I’d go get my nails done, and I’d put on mascara. I don’t wear makeup when I’m not working but I thought, “I’ll put on mascara, a little concealer, in case I go to the hospital and the baby comes out real quick, so I can take a cute picture.” My doctor wanted me to go walk on the beach to move my labor along and on that day, September 18, there was a big storm, with 40 miles per hour winds. My water broke [when I was] on the beach, so I ended up in the hospital with windblown hair that I never brushed, and my feet were muddy when I put them up on the stirrups. So it didn’t turn out the way I thought. But what was amazing was that my husband delivered the baby. The doctor handed him scrubs, said “Get ready, come on down here,” and then [my husband] pulled the baby out—head, shoulders, body—and placed him on me.
Was that his first time?
The first time [when I gave birth to Mason], he swore he wouldn’t cut the cord. He was, like, “I don’t want to be involved. I can’t, I’ll pass out.” But he did end up cutting the cord. The second time [when I gave birth to Braydon], he grabbed the baby’s shoulders and pulled him out. With Tucker, my husband advanced in the medical arena.
What are some of the most difficult things you experienced during your pregnancies?
Nothing life-threatening. With the first birth, I had complications with the epidural, and the Pitocin, because I wanted to induce, and Mason was just a big baby, so it was just hard to get him out. I would not allow a C-section unless it was an emergency. With my second son, I did a natural birth, and that was a really, really exciting experience. But it was extremely painful and I had a little hemorrhaging. With Tucker, there was a moment where his heart rate dropped during a really severe contraction, and that scared me. [The staff] put oxygen in me and flipped me over, so it was a little scary for a moment. I’m really lucky — I’ve had very healthy pregnancies, very healthy deliveries.
Do you have tips for women for a less stressful pregnancy?
I did study hypnobirthing to learn about a more natural approach to childbirth. It educates you a lot on what is and isn’t necessary during a delivery. It teaches you great relaxation techniques and meditation, and you get soundtracks to help you relax. It really helps with labor. I would play music for the baby while doing my relaxation techniques. One of the things I recommend for expecting moms and dads is to go see movies because that’s something they won’t do again. Going to the movies is something I miss a lot. My husband and I would go on date nights to the movies, but now with Tucker, it’s going to be a while until we see anything but a kid’s movie again. And before you get pregnant or at the very beginning of pregnancy, travel because you really won’t get to go anywhere, like Italy, for a while.
What’s the best or worst parenting advice you’ve ever received?
The best was from my mom, when I had my first child. I would get a lot of advice from different people, including strangers, and I was second-guessing things that I was doing. She said, “You have great instincts, you’re a wonderful mother, do what you feel is right.” And that was the best advice. The worst advice is putting rice cereal into milk to try to make kids sleep longer. It doesn’t work when they’re not ready, not when they’re under 4 months old. They keep you up all night screaming and yelling because their stomachs are not ready for it and it upsets them more.
Has there been anything challenging or surprising about raising three boys?
Not yet; it’s just the energy level. I grew up with all girls. I don’t have to worry about doing the boys’ hair, and they’re easily entertained in a mud puddle; they don’t sit and color like girls. They want to run and jump and splash and throw things, so you have a lot of Band-Aids around and a lot of ice packs, because they’re always getting banged and bruised.
What are some of the best things you’ve learned from motherhood? What are some things you think will be easier with Tucker, because you’ve already had two boys?
Something that I’ve learned is, you can never be completely prepared for any situation, and it’s amazing how far your instincts will take you. Just being able to handle a situation when it arises is pretty incredible, as a mother. I’ve learned that you never know what to expect. Every little thing changes so quickly, but at the same time, each milestone is so amazing.
Image: Melissa Joan Hart with newborn son Tucker, courtesy of Merck for Mothers, Once Upon a BirthAdd a Comment