Five seconds into our Zoom interview, I notice Iskra Lawrence is sitting on her couch in a nursing bra with a breast pump attached. We don’t address it—there’s no need to. It’s exceedingly evident that the new mom has her hands full raising a now-almost nine-month-old; creating a new relationship and wellness IGTV series called #SelfFunding with her partner Philip Payne; community managing nearly 5 million Instagram followers, and most recently, serving as an ambassador for fitness brand P.volve. You’d think the model would have a bit of an exhausted disposition given all that she has on her plate, but she’s incredibly upbeat throughout our entire discussion, periodically turning the computer screen to show me her adorable son playing and just generally being cute.
Pregnancy came as a bit of a pleasant surprise for Lawrence, and while stepping into motherhood is a difficult journey on its own, compounded with navigating a global pandemic, the process was a bit more than she bargained. “For me, COVID hit, quarantine hit, then one month later, I had a baby,” she explains. “So… being at home, 24/7, you know, it was a lot all at once. The first two months were very overwhelming. I was definitely sleep deprived… I read a post the other night and it said, ‘Don’t make new moms so scared,’ and I was like, Of course not. I never want to make anyone feel scared at all. But I also do want to be real, and it’s tough.”
Despite having her priorities dramatically shift after becoming pregnant, Lawrence has made it a point to love, fuel, and move her body both while carrying and postpartum. The model is known for sharing her workouts on social media alongside body-positive captions celebrating exercise as a means of developing strength rather than trying to achieve a certain weight or figure. There’s no overwhelming desire to “snap back” for Lawrence—instead, she’s strengthening her core and treating her workout sessions as a time to decompress. That doesn’t mean the idea of exercising while pregnant didn’t intimidate her, though.
“I would go into the gym [while pregnant] and I would kind of question and second guess, Should I be doing this? Should I be not?” she explains. “And I was trying to look on Youtube and find different videos, and the one thing I started to do was literally just kind of hold my stomach. It sounds weird, but just to kind of feel and see what felt comfortable. I obviously did [avoid] laying flat on my back, and even planks and putting all of my weight… I laid off that as well in case I did my back any damage. I found little modifications and kind of pieced together different influencers I liked to follow in the fitness space and kind of put my own version of things together.”
Lawrence also found joy through simply taking long walks. “Walking is the greatest gift I feel you can give a pregnant woman,” she shares. “Walk it out, walk for peace of mind, walk to get [out] any anxiety you might be having over, like, ‘What’s about to happen? My whole life’s about to change! What’s labor going to be like?’ I think just walking, just clearing your mind, and obviously breathwork is vitally, vitally important. But the movement is great. I also did a lot of yoga-style stretches and movements just to kind of lubricate my limbs.”
After giving birth, it was the small, isolated movements of P.volve that helped Lawrence feel as though she was safely regaining her strength. “Postpartum, even though it was scary pre-pregnancy, I kind of assumed, Oh, I don’t have a baby inside me anymore, I’ll be able to do what I used to do, and it just was not the case,” she explains. “I remember trying to do jumping jacks for the first time and I was like, [gasping] Whoa! My whole body felt wobbly and my boobs were hurting and heavy and I was just like, Oh my gosh, I’m starting in a new body from square one, and it was just overwhelming and definitely put me off for a while… up until I found P.volve.
One of Lawrence’s main concerns postpartum was feeling as though her core strength had all but dissipated, but thanks to P.volve’s post-natal-specific core work and functional fitness moves, she’s been able to feel more comfortable through everyday activities. “Looking at the post-natal workouts and all the workouts P.volve has that are focused firstly on the breathwork, because that really engages, and secondly, all the moves that kind of give you that mind-body connection and focused on the pelvic floor, on your core—that helped me re-build that foundation of strength at my core, which for me was a priority because I literally needed it to be able to move the way I used to move. And that’s helped me rebuild everything, because when you have that strong core, P.volve then brings in the balancing moves, and it brings in the strengthening moves, and that foundation was amazing. And the fact that it was focused on function, that it was focused on mobility, that really helped me really build and figure out how I could feel empowered to move and how I could feel like I knew my body again.”
Given she’s a bit of an expert on the topic and we’re still deep in the pandemic, I asked Lawrence for her best tips for new moms during this confusing and scary time. “I definitely wish I had been more prepared food-wise, because I felt like my milk supply was low because I wasn’t nourishing myself enough,” she explains. “I wasn’t eating enough, and the stuff I was eating was stuff I could grab quickly like cereal or sandwiches, which is not ideal. So maybe food prep; that’s something I wish I would have done. I wish I would have had healthy, frozen meals or figured out how I could do more meal prep maybe once a week and have it ready to go in containers so I could just microwave it. I definitely went through a phase of buying frozen microwave meals—those Amy’s ones that are vegan and vegetarian or whatever—but still, cooking fresh food and having that is important.”
Speaking of tips for new moms, Lawrence’s Instagram is full of them, though some come by way of unsolicited comments challenging her style. I ask her how she deals with the criticism, especially considering the size of her platform. “The funny thing is, I just feel like, unless you know the child that you’re talking about—unless they’re your child—no one else can tell you what to do. Each child is different. I’ve been very blessed to have a really close friend have a baby 10 days after me, and we’ve kind of quarantined together. We were pregnant together, we stayed safe, but we did see each other. And that baby was born 10 days later in a similar environment, in a similar home [Ed. note: Lawrence had a home birth], in a similar upbringing… and they’ve had completely different personalities since day one. Their baby loved to sleep; mine did not. There were just all these differences, and so I just kind of knew, yes, all of you have opinions, but at the end of the day, this is my child, and who knows better than the parents? Even though we know nothing and we’re still learning!” [Laughs] Still, all this to say the model isn’t opposed to turning to others for help when it’s needed. “You know, [motherhood] truly is a gift, and I never ever want anyone to think I’m not grateful and not the happiest person in the world, because I am, but there are definitely challenges, and staying in touch with girlfriends who have been through something similar, having your 'mom tribe,' is definitely so important [for] offloading… I’ve definitely found friends from being online, so if you are feeling alone, don’t be afraid to reach out, don’t be afraid to join a Facebook group, whatever that might look like.”
Beyond caring for her body, I wondered what Lawrence has been doing to nourish her mind in this new phase of her life. Given her career as a model, it comes as no surprise that beauty offers her a bit of levity after those late nights and long days. “I self-tan once a week because I like being glow-y, and I do that for me," she shares. "I have to dye my own eyelashes and eyebrows; again, just something for me that I like to do. I have loads and loads of hair masks because I’m sure you’ve heard, but postpartum hair loss is real, and actually pretty terrifying. I was very upset at three months exactly, when I ran fingers through my hair and just clumps of hair started falling out. Literally clumps! It’s grown back really good, but there’s definitely still a lot more, kind of, bald patches. I’ve made my own rice water, because I did some research. I do coconut oil and different hair masks, scrubs for my scalp, apple cider vinegar rinses… trying it all and just finding out that I love investing a little time in myself—and that’s what self-care is. It’s just giving yourself that time, whatever that looks like, doing whatever makes you happy and brings you joy and prioritizing it and prioritizing yourself, because we definitely need to do that.”