Meghan Trainor Shares Her Truth About Her Birth, Motherhood, and Mental Health: 'I Want To Be the Best for My Kid'

Birth was a lot. Early motherhood is tough—and wonderful. But raising son Riley has helped Grammy-winning artist Meghan Trainor focus on her career goals and also her physical and mental health.

Meghan Trainor is best known for her diamond-certified pop smash "All About That Bass," which debuted in 2014 when she was 21 years old. The anthem brought body positivity into the mainstream in the catchiest possible way. The song's contagious, exuberant confidence made Trainor an icon of empowerment. But her forthcoming album, which she began working on during her first months of motherhood and which is set to release this year, comes from a more emotionally honest and vulnerable place.

"A lot of people ask me, 'Your career's poppin' and you have a baby. How do you do it?'" Trainor, 28, says. She's bouncing a 10-month-old Riley on her lap, his pacifier in his mouth. Husband Daryl Sabara, 29, the Spy Kids star and voice actor whom she married on her 25th birthday, hovers nearby. " 'How can you manage it all? How are you so happy?'" Trainor concedes that she is very happy but that childbirth and the first few months of her baby's life were harder than anticipated.

Meghan flowing dress sitting on floor with Riley
Peggy Sirota

The rewards of parenthood outweigh the bad stuff, of course. "When you get your prize, you're like, 'Oh my God, this was worth every stitch!'" she says of Riley's delivery last February. Still, she says, "We had a lot of bumps."

She's referring to her gestational diabetes, her cesarean, and her subsequent PTSD, not to mention Riley's initial breathing problems, which landed him in the NICU for his first five days. She was also unprepared for how hard breastfeeding would be. "When you google it or look it up on YouTube? They don't tell you why it can suck. I'll tell you why it might suck! Sometimes your nipples aren't big enough for your baby's mouth. I didn't know that was humanly possible!"

Daryl and Meghan cuddling Riley
Peggy Sirota

Some of the new songs she's written are sad, she says, because she's committed to "telling the hard parts." For instance, she says, "A lot of women are out there posting their stretch marks, and they write, 'I love my tiger stripes, they gave me my boy.'" But she found it hard to love hers. "I love my baby, but I can't look at my stretch marks and honestly say, 'Wow, I love them,' you know?"

For Trainor, "It feels like I'm telling my truth. I heard that when you have a baby, you get more creative, and my lyrics are changing. Instead of writing songs to make everyone feel better, I'm writing about how I feel in this moment. But it's not like every day is sad. It's more like: Yes, I am a badass, but this ain't easy, and I have to get up and keep going."

cover photo Meghan and Riley in her blue sweater
Peggy Sirota

A self-described "nerd" about self-improvement, Trainor regularly consults a nutritionist and sees a therapist to tend to her mental health. She has spoken about the years it took to wrestle down her panic disorder. Life still serves up anxiety-inducing situations, but "I'll lose control for a minute, then I snap back," she says. "I'm proud." She's working on getting past an old habit of being self-critical, especially of her career. "When I'm singing in the booth, I'll say stuff like, 'Oh, I suck,' you know? I have to learn to not say those things out loud, because if I do, then my brain believes them."

Just as it says in her famous song, her mother did, indeed, tell young Trainor not to worry about her size. But she was insecure about her body nonetheless. "People say, 'You wrote songs about how much you love yourself.' And I say, 'I wrote the songs because I needed them. Because I felt the opposite.'" Growing up on Nantucket, she and her two brothers played outside all day, but "we were always chubbier kids. We had a snack drawer in the house, and my mom was never strict about it," Trainor says. Her pregnancy forced her to learn about blood sugar and study her own metabolism, and she hopes to pass her newly formed healthy habits on to Riley.


"I just felt super-loved by my parents ... I think that's why I always wanted to be a mom too."

Daryl and Meghan kiss while holding Riley
Peggy Sirota

Trainor has always found a sense of security in her family, and they continue to be close. "I just felt super-loved by my parents. They were really good to us. Still are—they're at our house every day. I think that's why I always wanted to be a mom too," Trainor says.

Sabara "is Superdad," she says. He's an early bird who takes Riley strolling at dawn and then brings Trainor coffee and oatmeal in bed, plus Riley, for some snuggle time. Afterward, Sabara takes Riley while Trainor works out for an hour, before they switch. Sabara also helps her stay organized. "He'll actually run my schedule with me. He's too good to be true," Trainor says.

Meghan posing in doorway
“I’ve never been more motivated,” Trainor says. She and husband Daryl Sabara, above, support each other through the parenting juggle. Peggy Sirota

Trainor went back to work when Riley was 3 months old, cohosting Peacock's Top Chef Family Style, in which young chefs compete, with parents as cooking partners. Going to work so soon after the birth was "scary at first," she says, "but it really helped that the team included so many other moms." The crew gathered around her during breaks, asking if she needed to pump, to rest, to see the baby—since Riley was spending his days in the trailer. As transitions go, it was a good one. "I think about moms who don't get to bring their kids to work, which is pretty much everybody, and it's crazy to me," Trainor says.

After Top Chef wrapped, Trainor judged Clash of the Cover Bands, a singing competition that streams on Hulu Live TV. By the time it was over, she felt run-down and guilty about missing time with Riley. Her therapist gave her a pep talk. "'No, you're not a bad mom, you're a working mom, and you're working to support your family and to love your family," Trainor recalls her saying. "I think when you have a kid you just realize, 'Wow, life is beautiful and precious. I want to be the best for my kid.' I've never been more motivated."

Meghan lying on back in grass
Peggy Sirota

Trainor is currently developing a sitcom for NBC based on her life, which she will star in. But the goal of growing her family is never far from her mind. "I'm gonna try to get to four," she says, speaking of kids. "I'm gonna try to create four. We'll see what happens after three. I'm not doing less than that. I need three." Then she recalls her reaction to seeing Riley for the first time. "When I saw Riley in the NICU, all hooked up to these wires, I just saw the most adorable baby redhead I've ever seen," she says. "And I thought, 'Oh! We have to make more.'"

Trainor says that Riley has inherited Sabara's sense of zen and her own good sleeping habits. As he grows, Trainor says they will teach Riley to "'treat people with kindness,' as Harry Styles says," referencing Styles's 2019 hit. Ultimately, her dream is simply to sit down on her couch, watch TV, and cuddle with her fam. "That's my true happy place," she says. "I don't want to be on a beach somewhere. I want to be indoors with air-conditioning and blankets, food, and happiness. That's my joy."

stacked portrait of Daryl Riley and Meghan
Party of three—for now. When Trainor first saw her newborn son, she says, “I thought, ‘Oh! We have to make more!’ ”. Peggy Sirota

Everything You Need To Know About Meghan Trainor's Family

Book I read to Riley: I've Loved You Since Forever, by Hoda Kotb.

Song I sing to him: "You Are My Sunshine."

Best baby advice I've received: When my pediatrician tells me all Riley's weird things are normal.

Best part of sharing the baby love on Insta: It becomes a digital photo album. I always go back and look!

Riley's latest trick: Squeezing his hand as he says bye-bye and kissing!

Workout motivation: I look at Riley and think, "I'm going to do anything I can to live forever."

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's March 2022 issue as "Sharing Her Truth." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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