Amanda Tice and The New Mom Code - podcast episode #139
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Hello, hello. This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am joined today by Amanda Tice. Welcome, Amanda!
Amanda: Thank you so much for having me! I’m very excited to be on your podcast.
Kristin: I’m so happy to have you here! So you are not only a successful curve model, but you’re also a mom and a body positivity advocate and the author of The New Mom Code. So how do you balance all of that, first of all?
Amanda: It’s been interesting. I think the good thing about my job is that it’s not – as much as it is full time, it’s not full time when it comes to modeling, so in between, when I am traveling, I really like to write, and that’s kind of how this book was born. But the hardest job of all, of course, is being a mom. That’s the one that’s the most time-consuming and the one that takes up the most amount of my energy.
Kristin: Exactly. So you have a son, George, correct?
Amanda: Yes, I do.
Kristin: So how old is George?
Amanda: George just turned five, which seems crazy to me, especially because I started writing this book when George was about 18 months old. So, you know, it’s been a long process, which I actually think is a good thing because it helped to really give me a better perspective when I reflect on it because when you write a book over the course of a couple years, so much changes in those first few years of motherhood.
Kristin: So true, yes. As far as The New Mom Code, describe what the book is all about. Obviously, it was a well-thought-out process. So you really put some time into it. I would love to learn more about it.
Amanda: Sure. So The New Mom Code is really all about dispelling the myths around motherhood, normalizing what I would consider “taboo topics” related to motherhood, and helping women tap into their own inner wisdom and thrive, which is really hard, because a lot of the books on the market, I found, at the time when I was pregnant and also that first newborn stage, were focused on parenting and not so much about what the mother was experiencing. And so because of that, I went through all these stages of, why didn’t anyone tell me this, right? So because of that, I felt, you know, pretty alone in my experience, even though I had a relatively good support group, because I had met some great women through my prenatal yoga class. I just felt this sense of, what I’m going through is really hard, and no one is talking about it. And one of the topics in particular that was one of the first chapters I wrote and made me really think hard about this book was breastfeeding, because every movie, TV show, media, display of breastfeeding is always that it’s this supremely magical, easy experience, this bonding between your child, and I just had a completely different experience. You know, I was engorged. I ended up exclusively pumping for the first two months. I did nipple shields and lactation consultants, and eventually, which was kind of strange, actually, my son decided he would latch at two months old, so he’d been – I’d been exclusively pumping and bottle feeding for those first two months, and then he went back to the breast at two months. But the whole process was exhausting. And so I just really started thinking about, hey, moms need to know that this is not a linear path. When it comes to motherhood in general, right? You kind of assume, in terms of every movie you’ve ever seen, oh, you’re going to breastfeed and you’re going to have this wonderful child and all this is going to be easy.
Kristin: It will be magical, right. And that’s not the case. And we don’t talk about, you know, the reality as much. I mean, I feel like Hollywood’s depiction of the birth experience is dramatized in a negative way. But motherhood tends to be put in such a positive light, and like you said, breastfeeding, which I struggled with breastfeeding both of my kids and had to see a lactation consultant for separate reasons. I mean, I had a daughter in the NICU that didn’t want to breastfeed and then a son with a tongue tie. And so, yeah, it is not as easy as you would think it would be.
Amanda: Yeah. The real purpose of this book for me was to talk about those topics that women didn’t really want to discuss and, you know, so I talk about breastfeeding and mom brain and burnout and postpartum sex, even preparing for the future and making sure that you are addressing things like death, which I know sounds very morbid, but you need to be prepared for the unlikely event of a catastrophe, right? So it’s making sure that you are tapping into what you’re feeling as a mother and really getting a good understanding of what you’re going through, normalizing those feelings, and being able to use those, the things that you’re going through, to be a stronger, happier individual as well as a mother.
Kristin: Well, your book sounds perfect for our online course, Becoming A Mother. So we have new and seasoned moms in the course sharing the reality of not only pregnancy and birth but also especially the postnatal phase. So I will put you on our top recommended list.
Amanda: Yeah, that would be amazing. I mean, the other thing that I like about this book that’s a little bit different from a lot of what else is on the market is I provide journal prompts at the end of each chapter so that you can really reflect on your own feelings. But then in addition to that, I also provide exercises that you can do. So a lot of books, it’s kind of like, it’s easier read or said than done, but then you leave with a question of, like, okay, well, now that I know this information, what am I supposed to do with it? How do I put it into action? So I really wanted to make sure that I added this element of having exercises you could do that would help you change your mindset, behavior, or perspective on each particular topic.
Kristin: Love it. You are obviously getting into taking care of yourself and accepting your body after giving birth. So I know that you modeled in a swimsuit line after you had your son. Heidi Klum’s line?
Amanda: Yeah, so I did a segment on Access Hollywood about 16 weeks postpartum in a bikini, and that was very strange for me.
Kristin: I bet!
Amanda: Because, you know, your body looks and feels so different after you have a baby. And I think there’s this assumption that oh, you know, after the baby’s born, my body’s going to bounce back. I think the media kind of has this thing of, like, here are ways to help your body bounce back. Here are ways to lose that postpartum baby weight. And I think that’s just totally unrealistic, and it puts so much pressure on mothers to, you know, regain whatever body they had before baby. But the reality is, your body just performed the miracle of life, right? It’s gave birth to a child. You cannot possibly expect that the body you have after a baby is going to be anything like the body you had before the baby. The funny thing about the Heidi Klum bikini story was when I went to the casting for it, I remember putting on the bikini and coming out in front of the casting director and thinking, there is no way they are going to book me for this because in my mind, my body looks so different from what it had looked like before that I wasn’t – there wasn’t a connection. You know, my mind-body connection was just not there yet. So when I booked the job, I was a little anxious and panicked and concerned, as well, because I was definitely still in the thick of breastfeeding, so I was like, well, I’m going to be modeling a bikini, but yet the size and shape of my breasts are going to be fluctuating while this is all happening. So, you know, it was an interesting job to accept, but in the long run, I’m really glad that I did it because I think that so many women need to see real bodies, right? At the end of the day, it’s like, as much as I have felt a little self-conscious and I hadn’t really gotten on board with what my new body looked like yet, I hadn’t had that adjustment period – I felt this need to be like, okay, well, this is what it is. Let’s be real. Instead of trying to be something we’re not, let’s be who we are. And the thing is, in the moment, too, I feel like it’s so important to embrace whatever your body looks like. That’s the thing that always drives me crazy when it comes to women is we tend to look back at old pictures of ourselves and say, oh, I was so skinny and I don’t look like that anymore. And then, you know, in that moment, I’m sure that women or whoever it is, is looking at their body and saying, oh, I could still be skinnier. I could still be curvier, or I could have worn something more flattering. We’re always kind of picking ourselves apart because that’s what society tells us that we’re supposed to do. And I find it very frustrating that we have gotten into this narrative on a larger scale that we’re just not good enough. And all bodies and shapes are sizes are different. So we should stop trying to fit into this box, you know?
Kristin: Exactly. So you were one of the first curve models, and so it seems the body positivity movement didn’t come later on as many women after delivering and accepting the changes in their body, you were one of the earliest advocates?
Amanda: Right. For sure. I mean, I would say there were a handful of women that came before me that are what I would consider plus-size super models. There was Em. You know, Ashley Graham has now exploded in her career, and she was modeling probably five or ten years before me. But it wasn’t really until, I would say, halfway through my career that this idea of body positivity became a little bit more acceptable. And the interesting thing about the industry, too, is throughout the course of my modeling career, I probably – I’ve been anywhere from a size 8 to a size 16, and, you know, there are constantly shifts in the industry in terms of, oh, well, we want curvy to be a 12. Oh, we want curvy to be a 16. Or, oh, we don’t really – we just want you to have, like, larger breasts and larger hips, but we really want you to be, like, an 8, 10. So, you know, there’s – and I have always been someone who has said, I am not going to gain or lose weight as a curve model. I will just be whatever I’m going to be in that moment, and you can – as the agency, it’s your job to work me at that size. But, I mean, so many other models that I work with had such a hard time with that because they would have consistent clients, and they’d be a size 14, and then those clients would all of a sudden say, oh, well, we’re going to start using a size 16 now. So then they would try to make themselves larger. And then the industry would shift and be like, oh, well, we want a 12. And then they had no possible way of all of a sudden losing 30 pounds, right?
Hey, Alyssa here. I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming. Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between. You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood. You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more. You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most. And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls. If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at email@example.com, or check it out at www.thebecomingcourse.com. We’d love to see you there.
Amanda: So it’s interesting. The fashion industry has its way of picking trends and sticking to them for short periods of time. But I will say I have been happy to see within the past, I would say, two to three years, that this whole body positivity movement really seems to be sticking. So if you look back, too, at some of the plus-size models from the beginning of when I started modeling, whenever you had a plus-size model, they always wanted to make you naked. So, you know, every editorial you would see would be these plus-size models, like, all sitting next to each other with no clothes on. And I’d be like, well, why is it that just because we’re curvy, we have to be naked, you know? What is with that? I mean, sure, you’re trying to say, oh, your bodies are beautiful or glorified, but it didn’t help to push the, okay, well, let’s incorporate plus-size models into high fashion. Let’s make sure that they’re being represented where they need to be. I mean, it’s been an interesting shift to see it go, but I love that I can now walk into a Target, and I can see an unretouched photo of a plus-size model in a bathing suit. I mean, that’s, like, a huge –
Kristin: That’s a big change.
Amanda: — difference from when I started.
Kristin: Yes. And you started in another high pressure industry. I mean, as a former TV journalist, there’s still a lot of focus on appearance and size and how you present yourself every day. So how did that go for you, and how did you transition to modeling?
Amanda: So the funny thing with the TV reporting business is it’s not as physically driven as you would think. I mean, I do think in general, of course, they want you to have really great hair and makeup, but there is more of a – they put more emphasis on what your educational background is, which I think is important, and I think that’s what it should be. So that was an interesting – I would say, speed bump in my career, because I figured out very quickly with the reporting and TV hosting that news was not going to be my thing. I think people who are TV news reporters are amazing because you have to be emotionally detached from the stories you’re covering, and I figured out pretty quickly that I just wasn’t capable. I’m someone who’s – I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m very open. I would just get very emotional when I would show up at these news stories and people would be upset. So I figured out pretty quickly that news was not going to be for me. But after I transitioned out of news, I went into more of, like, I would say, entertainment, lifestyle reporting. And that was really fun, and I really enjoyed it. I was doing a tech segment for MSNBC. I was doing some guest hosting for MTV. But then in 2008, the economy crashed, and I was living in New York, and I had rent to pay. So all of the clients that I had had said, hey, we’d love to keep you on, but we can pay half of what we were paying you before. And so I started picking up kind of odd jobs, and I did a background job on a television show, which was called Lipstick Jungle. You remember, it was with Brooke Shields? Yes, so I was, like – it was a party scene or something, and when you’re an extra on a TV show like that, they don’t really let you leave because they need you for that day, and it needs to be consistent for their shot. So I ended up sitting in the basement of this church for, I don’t know, six, seven hours, and the guy I sat next to happened to be a photographer, as well as an extra, because he was trying to make money, too. And he said, hey, I really think you could be a plus-size model. And I said, what’s a plus-size model? I mean, I had no idea that there was even such a thing. And he said, well, you know, I work with Wilhelmina and Ford. I’ve shot with all these amazing plus-size models, and I think you’d be a really good fit for that market. So I said, okay. That’s interesting. Not something I’d ever considered or thought of doing. And after that extra job, he took some just random pictures of me to update my head shots, and on one rainy day, Wilhelmina had an open call, and I took those pictures to the agency, and they signed me that day. So it completely changed my life. I hadn’t necessarily anticipated that I was going to stop hosting and doing television and start modeling, but at the time, modeling paid so much more than hosting that I was happy to say, okay, I will take the modeling job over the hosting job. That’s how my career was born.
Kristin: Love it. That is so inspiring. So it just shows that you need to take risks in life.
Amanda: Yeah, for sure. And it’s funny because I feel like people underestimate how much can fundamentally change in your life in a short period of time. I mean, my life really changed overnight just by me being proactive. I mean, no one was saying, oh, saw me on the street and handed me a card and said you should be a model. It was, I was proactively looking for work, and I thought, hey, maybe this could work out, and I spent the time and energy trying to pursue it. And I was also old for being a model, so that also just goes to show you that anything is possible because I started modeling when I was 25. Most models end their careers at 25. And I’m still doing it now, and I’m 38.
Kristin: So do you get into the work-life balance and important decisions that women need to make in The New Mom Code?
Amanda: I do and I don’t. I mean, I think the biggest thing that I talk about in the book that touches on this sort of stuff is I talk about burnout. I talk about juggling, which I think is really important. But I also talk about how you really need to chase your dreams as an individual, because just because you become a mother doesn’t mean that you have to give up the dreams that you have. You can use the dreams that you have to be an inspiration to your child. So, you know, I really do talk about all of those things, but I do talk a lot about balancing, because I talk about how to juggle and different ways you can juggle and how you deal with burnout, because I think both of those things are really important when it comes to being a working mom.
Kristin: Exactly. And there’s so much talk about self-care, you know, now especially with the pandemic, but burnout and really prioritizing your needs and communicating what you need from friends and family and your spouse is so important.
Amanda: I completely agree. And I think the thing is, too – and I’ve had a couple conversations about this on my Instagram Lives recently, but it’s the fact of asking for help. People are always very reticent to ask for help, and we need to get over that being stigmatized. Because for the most part, your friends and family want to help. They’re just not really sure how to help. So instead of allowing yourself to get to a point where you’re so severely burnt out that you are having, you know, anxiety and depression, it’s important to notice that you are getting so burnt out that you need help and recognizing when you need help and getting the help that you need. So, you know, it’s hard to sometimes ask for help, but it makes a world of difference in your mental health if you’re willing and able to do it.
Amanda: And I have to say – so another friend of mine who is a prenatal yoga teacher and she just recently became a doula, as well, and she’s in Santa Monica, California – she had the best idea I’d heard in a long time when it came to asking for help, which is, instead of, you know, telling your friends that you just need help, they’re not really sure what they need to do. So what she has done, she’s created a list of things. She sits down with her clients and says, okay, what things do you need to do throughout the day? So does that mean you need to take the dog out? Does that mean you need someone to take the trash out? Does that mean you need someone to wipe down the kitchen counters? What are those everyday, daily activities, right? And you take them and you write down all the things that you need to do, and then you post them on your refrigerator. So then when a friend comes over to help with the baby or wants to help you, you can say, if you could just do one of the things on my refrigerator, that would be super helpful. Right? Because people don’t way to say, oh, would you mind taking my trash out, right? That feels uncomfortable. Whereas if you just say, oh, could you do one of those things on my list, there’s no problem. Your friend would be happy to take your trash out, right? So I love that idea of kind of creating a list that you could either send to friends or post on your refrigerator when they came over that were actually things that would help you when you were in the thick of it or you were really burnt out.
Kristin: Because otherwise you feel like you’re entertaining your friends, and you – if you need to feed, it’s uncomfortable to walk away. You want your house to be spotless. So it’s nice to really have options for our friends and family.
Amanda: I agree.
Kristin: So Amanda, how can our listeners find your book outside of – I know you’re, you know, number one new book on Amazon, but where else can they find The New Mom Code?
Amanda: So you can find The New Mom Code on Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon. And you can find it pretty much where any books are sold. We just also did the release on iBooks as well, so pretty much any online platform, you can find it there. And if you want to learn more about me, you can find me on Instagram @amandatice, or you can go to my website.
Kristin: Love it. So are you doing a book launch, or what are you doing to promote The New Mom Code?
Amanda: So I just had a book launch party last week, which was great because it was a self-care event for moms, powered by moms. It was great. I had a bunch of mom-owned businesses all come together and have this amazing self-care event. But I think for the future, I’m for sure going to be doing more book signings, and hopefully some workshops and events that are down the pipeline.
Kristin: Well, I will share that with our doula clients and our Becoming students and our listeners when I get more info on upcoming events.
Amanda: I’m all about it. I’m excited for the next chapter and, you know, more than anything, I’m just really excited to get my message out because I just feel like so many new moms are struggling and feeling alone and isolated, and this book is really all about combatting that and making sure that women are really getting the attention that they deserve.
Kristin: Exactly. Well, I’m so happy that you put The New Mom Code out into the world. It’s so needed.
Amanda: Thank you. And thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate being on your show.
Kristin: Yeah. I appreciate you coming on. Do you have any final tips for our listeners, Amanda?
Amanda: I guess my final tip is really to not lose yourself in the process of becoming a mom. Being a mom is wonderful and I think if that is your dream is just to be the most wonderful mom you can be, that’s amazing. But if you have other dreams and goals, it’s also important to listen to yourself and listen to your intuition and chase your own dreams, as well.
Kristin: Very wise advice. Thank you so much!
Amanda: Thank you!
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