Everything Celebs Have Said About Taking (and Not Taking) Leave from Work After Welcoming a Baby
Here's what celeb parents like Shay Mitchell, Craig Melvin, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and more have said about taking time off from work as new parents
One week after the birth of his son Wyatt Morgan, Anderson Cooper told Stephen Colbert that he was eschewing paternity leave given the nature of his career amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"This is not some story — this is life and death. This is as serious as it gets, and it's more important than ever before that things be true and accurate," he said on May 4. "It's one of the reasons I'm not taking time off."
"Thankfully I can do some work from home, but I feel like this is an extraordinary time to be in this business as a reporter and to be able to try to help inform people and give people facts," he added. "Right now, facts and science and truth — it is the difference between life and death for many people."
Alexis Ohanian has been a champion of parental leave for both moms and dads since the September 2017 birth of his daughter Alexis Olympia with wife Serena Williams. He even teamed up with Dove last year to offer $5,000 paternity leave grants for new dads.
While Ohanian understands that "not every father has the flexibility to leave without the fear that doing so could negatively impact his career," the Reddit co-founder stressed the importance of paid family leave for everyone in an August 2019 essay for The New York Times.
"Serena and I were lucky enough to have help at home and many other advantages working in our favor. But even with all of that privilege, including my ability to focus solely on my family and not worry about keeping my job, it was still incredibly difficult," he wrote.
"Nothing could have dragged me away from my wife and daughter in those hours, days and weeks — and I'm grateful that I was never forced to choose between my family and my job," Ohanian added.
That same month, Williams praised her husband "for speaking out" about the subject "not only on behalf of women but of men as well."
"That's so important. … I'm telling you, it's so hard to be a mom," the tennis star told PEOPLE at the time. "I have my own job and I make my own schedule, but even then I still have commitments, and I can't imagine moms that get two weeks off and have to go back to work."
She has also been open about some of the difficulties of being away for work, like missing Olympia's first steps.
New mom Shay Mitchell — who welcomed daughter Atlas Noa six months ago — told PEOPLE during her pregnancy that she wasn't planning to take an extended leave of absence from her career when her first child arrived.
"My entire team knows that there's no maternity leave for me,” the actress said. "I do a lot of my work on my phone and I have another company that I run. I love what I do, so for me it doesn’t feel like work."
Following the July 2018 birth of her daughter Kulture Kiari, rapper Cardi B announced she would bow out of performing in Bruno Mars' 24K Magic World Tour that fall to spend more time with her then-2-week-old.
"I can’t leave my baby at night, not for one second," she explained on Instagram Live. "A lot of people keep telling me, 'You need to find a nanny because you gotta start working soon,' and it's so hard because I want to be with my baby every second."
"I didn’t [think] that it would take so long for my body to heal," added the star. "I thought six weeks was going to be good enough — no, bro. My ass is broken. This baby broke my ass."
Cardi later told PEOPLE en Español, "I don’t want to miss nothing from my baby. I read that babies forget people so quick; I don't want her to forget me. I don't want her thinking that somebody else is her mom; I want her to love me as her mom."
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
Speaking with PEOPLE in March 2019 while pregnant with her third child, son Angelo James, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi admitted that while she planned to maybe "take a couple of days off" following his birth, she'd be back to work pretty quickly.
"That's not a thing," said the Jersey Shore star when asked, as her own boss, if she would take maternity leave. "I'm probably gonna take a couple of days off but my mental state is always thinking about work and my brand, and expanding it and improving it and making it better."
"So taking a day off … that stresses me out, actually," Polizzi added.
Craig Melvin and Lindsay Czarniak
When PEOPLE asked Today's Craig Melvin in November 2016 about the three weeks he planned to take off after the birth of his second child, daughter Sybil "Sibby" Ann, he said he wasn't a fan of the American system when it comes to (the lack of) leave for dads.
"It bothers me that we don't have some sort of paternity-leave policy in this country," said Melvin, who also wrote a blog post for PEOPLE on the subject. "If we want families to be stronger, we should probably give certainly moms, and dads as well, an opportunity to bond with their child, and I don’t think that the first two or three weeks in a child's life ... there's no [other] time like that."
"Guilt is so real," said Czarniak, who went on maternity leave earlier than she'd planned. "I am still processing the whole thing, 'cause you don’t know. And then on the flip side, the other thing that's been really eye-opening — very cool, but also scary as hell — is really being able to spend time with my friends who have two kids and watching how they do it."
She continued, "A lot of them don't work, some of them do, but seeing the difference there and how they are like superwomen. And I'm like, 'How the hell and I gonna do that when I get back and I'm going to work?' "
Washington Nationals pitcher Daniel Hudson was notably absent for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series last fall, with multiple outlets reporting that he had gone home to Arizona to witness the birth of his third daughter, Millie.
After drawing a mix of reactions from supportive to critical (and being lauded by many fellow dads in the spotlight, like Ohanian), the athlete said ahead of Game 2, according to USA Today, "To be able to have that experience with my family and be there for the whole thing was everything I could have imagined."
"Top-three things in my life — 1A, 1B and 1C — are being there for the birth of all three of my daughters," Hudson added. "The organization was awesome for [letting] me be a part of that."
The Nationals would go on to win the World Series for the first time in history.
Former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer didn't have plans to leave the office for too long after the birth of her twin daughters Marielle and Sylvana in December 2015. (She's also mom to son Macallister, 7½.)
"Since my pregnancy has been healthy and uncomplicated and since this is a unique time in Yahoo's transformation,” she wrote on the company's Tumblr at the time of her expecting announcement, "I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout."
When former New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy discovered his wife was in labor with their first child in 2014, he did what lots of new fathers do: took advantage of his employer's paternity-leave policy to be by her side.
His decision drew a bevy of criticism but despite that, Murphy — whose wife, Victoria, ended up needing a cesarean section to deliver their son Noah, who was breech — did have support where it counts: Both the Mets and Major League Baseball publicly supported his decision to be with his wife and newborn.
"MLB and the Players Association began the paternity list in 2011 so that players could be with their families for an extraordinary time in their lives," the group said in a statement following the controversy.