Katherine Heigl on Experiencing 'Emotional Highs and Lows' Postpartum: 'I Prefer the Adoption Way'

"It all threw me for a loop," Katherine Heigl says of her pregnancy experience

New baby, new life! Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley share the first photos of their baby boy Joshua Bishop Kelley Jr. Subscribe now for the exclusive photos and read why the mom of three left Hollywood – only in PEOPLE!

Though new mom of three Katherine Heigl always wanted to be a mother, carrying a child herself wasn’t top of mind.

“I’ve never been determined to experience pregnancy,” Heigl tells PEOPLE at her Utah ranch for this week’s cover story. “But I’m so grateful that I did. I think that if it hadn’t been a surprise, I’m not sure I would have done it. It was an incredible experience, it was kind of magical.”

“I think it all threw me for a loop,” she says of her pregnancy with now 5-week old son Joshua Bishop. “For some reason I just felt like it was going to be so hard for me … I have all these stomach issues all the time and my back always hurts. I thought, ‘Oh, pregnancy is going to wreck me, I am going to be one of those women who’s just probably sick the whole time and feels terrible and exhausted.’ [But] I just had a pretty easy experience.”

Cheyenne Ellis

“The thing that really got me was the indigestion,” she reveals. “You can ask my costars [on the set of Doubt], I never stopped burping. And I felt terrible about it, but there was just nothing I could do — I would be in the middle of saying something and I’d just start burping. It was awful. I felt like a frat boy.”

Though her pregnancy itself was “pretty easy,” Heigl and Kelley learned about two weeks before Joshua Jr. was due that he was breech, and scheduled a cesarean section.

“It was nerve-wracking,” she says. But the process itself, “was all done in about an hour … It was way easier than I expected.”

  • For more on Heigl’s life with her new baby and her red-hot career, watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Katherine Heigl and Joshua Jr., available now on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) and at People.com/heiglbaby. Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.

But since giving birth, Heigl — who is also mom to daughters Naleigh, 8, and Adalaide, 4, with husband Josh Kelley — says she experienced “emotional highs and lows.”

“One minute you’re weirdly obsessed with this baby, like ‘Don’t take him out of my sight,’ and the next you’re kind of blue, you’re a little sad and a little freaked out,” she says. “I actually prefer the adoption way because I wasn’t subject to hormones.”

Still, Heigl says that those hormones were “the only difference” in raising her children. “The moment you hold your child, you’re wholly in love,” she says. “And you’ll do anything to protect them and shelter them.”

For more from Katherine Heigl, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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