Gabrielle Union Encourages Fellow Moms to 'Advocate' for Their Self-Care: 'Start with You First'

Gabrielle Union tells Katie Lowes it's "okay to center yourself and your needs" to "be the best self for yourself, so you can offer" more to others

Gabrielle Union knows the value of self-love.

During a season 3 episode of Katie's CribShondaland's first podcast in partnership with iHeartRadio that features Katie Lowes and a guest having a frank and intimate conversation about the joys, pains and hilarity of new motherhood — the L.A.'s Finest actress opens up about her fertility journey, the pain she endured along the way and the importance of self-care.

"We're super conditioned to not center ourselves in our own stories," says Union, 47, who's mom to 21-month-old daughter Kaavia James and stepmom to husband Dwyane Wade's children, including 13-year-old Zaya.

"Anything less than giving every part of ourselves to other people [and] we're that selfish bitch, we're the bad mom, we're the bad wife, we're the bad friend when you don't give every piece of yourself to everyone else whenever they feel like they need it," she continues.

gabrielle union with family
Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade with Zaya and Kaavia. Gabrielle Union/Instagram

But the star believes it's "okay to center yourself and your needs and advocate for yourself and be the center of your own story and be the best self for yourself, so you can offer — in reasonable doses, and as you see fit — parts of you to other people," adding, "We say in our family and in our crew, 'We all we got.' Start with you first."

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Gabrielle Union and Katie Lowes.

Union — who welcomed Kaavia with Wade, 38, via surrogacy in November 2018 — also got candid about her fertility journey and the struggles she overcame along the road to motherhood.

"Everyone moves through this fertility journey differently," she tells Lowes. "For so many, there is so much shame about your body betraying you and you just don't want people to know. But there is this amazing network of women working low key to help you through the process."

"Once I went through the process and was vocal about it, I'd get at least a few times a week, people wanting help," the former Being Mary Jane actress continues. "I like the idea of paying it forward because it's hard, and certain parts of it just freakin' suck."

Opening up to PEOPLE in 2017, Union revealed she had "eight or nine miscarriages" throughout her journey — news that was both heartbreaking and frustrating.

RELATED VIDEO: Gabrielle Union Celebrates Daughter's Birth via Surrogate in New Children's Book: "My Love Letter"

"For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant — I've either been about to go into an [in vitro fertilization] cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle or coming out of an IVF cycle," Union revealed at the time, while promoting her book We're Going to Need More Wine.

"People feel very entitled to know, 'Do you want kids?' " she said. "A lot of people, especially people that have fertility issues, just say 'no' because that's a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause."

But despite the pain and agony, she has found inspiration from fellow moms.

"Sometimes it's ... just being in a Target or being at the grocery store and seeing moms of babies and toddlers who are somehow keeping it together, who give you that eye contact and they're like, 'You got this girl,' " Union told PEOPLE last month. "Sometimes that's all it is."

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