"I think they all knew that I have that animal in me,” Gigi explained on her Vogue cover shoot shot only three months after giving birth. "When you see someone do that, you look at them a bit differently. I probably looked crazy, actually,” she says, a giggle tinged with pride. “I was an animal woman.”
At her side were her partner, Zayn Malik; her mother, Yolanda; her sister, Bella; and a local midwife and her assistant - for all 24 hours.
The 25-year old went on to explain that it was Malik who caught the baby. “It didn’t even click that she was out,” she added. “I was so exhausted, and I looked up and he’s holding her. It was so cute.”
While she originally planned to deliver at a New York City hospital, the realities of COVID set in: she was 90 minutes from Manhattan, and the limits on numbers in the delivery room would have precluded Yolanda and Bella from being present.
“What I really wanted from my experience was to feel like, Okay, this is a natural thing that women are meant to do.”
Knowing she should explore other options, her and Malik watched the 2008 documentary The Business of Being Born, which is critical of medical interventions and depicts a successful home birth. “We both looked at each other and were like, I think that’s the call,” Gigi says.
They placed a blow-up bath in their bedroom, Malik asked Gigi what music she wanted to hear (she surprised him by requesting the audio of children’s novel, The Indian in the Cupboard), and their three cats and border collie were sent out, according to Vogue.
Malik ended up downloading the film and they spent the early hours of labor watching it together. “That’s something we’d never talked about but in that moment we discovered we both loved,” Gigi says bashfully.
She told writer Chloe Malle that that Malik likened his own experience of her birth to a lion documentary he’d seen in which a male lion paces nervously outside the cave while the lioness delivers her cubs. “Z was like, ‘That’s how I felt! You feel so helpless to see the person you love in pain.’”
While Gigi’s Zoom doula, Malibu High classmate Carson Meyer, had prepared her for the moment she couldn't take the pain, Gigi says Yolanda and the midwife coached her through it.
“I had to dig deep,” Gigi says. “I knew it was going to be the craziest pain in my life, but you have to surrender to it and be like, ‘This is what it is.’ I loved that.”
“There definitely was a point where I was like, I wonder what it would be like with an epidural, how it would be different,” Gigi says frankly. “My midwife looked at me and was like, ‘You’re doing it. No one can help you. You’re past the point of the epidural anyway, so you’d be pushing exactly the same way in a hospital bed.’”
“I know my mom and Zayn and Bella were proud of me, but at certain points I saw each of them in terror,” says Gigi. “Afterward, Z and I looked at each other and were like, We can have some time before we do that again.”