As one of the world’s most sought-after supermodels, Coco Rocha is used to being the subject of media scrutiny. However, the Canadian cover girl wasn’t expecting for her children to endure harsh criticism from strangers.
The 29-year-old gave birth to her second child, a son named Iver, in April and this time around she is more prepared and ready to being “mom-shamed.”
Back in 2015 while on vacation in Hawaii with her family, including her then-6-month-old daughter Ioni, Rocha received backlash for posting an Instagram photo that indicated she fed her baby with formula.
Some commenters accused Rocha of being too lazy and self-centered as a parent to feed her child breast milk, the preferred food for babies according to the World Health Organization.
Rocha told Fox News she was both stunned and saddened by the brutal backlash.
“I remember crying in the airport at Hawaii and [my husband] James started helping me with what I would write to people,” she recalled. “I was emotional about that because no one knew why I did it but thought their opinion mattered.”
Rocha explained that as a new parent, she was eager to breastfeed her baby for a year. However, at nearly four months, her “milk went dry.”
“I pretty much couldn’t make milk overnight, which was quite shocking to me,” she explained. “My pediatrician pretty much explained to me that... She was pretty much really hungry. And I wasn’t creating enough milk.
"So right away I had to make a decision about formula… Sure enough, she latched on that bottle… For quite some months, she was exclusively formula-fed.”
Rocha, who’s now a spokesperson for Similac, said that at the time of what should have been a fun family getaway, she ran out of formula for Ioni.
She relied on the GoButler app to have more delivered to her “in the middle of nowhere.” Rocha, thrilled with the speedy results, wanted to share her experience on social media for other moms in need. However, she was instead flooded with judgmental comments.
“This was my first mommy shaming, which was shocking to me,” she said. “I thought as moms, as women, we come together. But this was my first, and not my last, mommy shaming experience. It did open a dialogue that I guess needed to be heard.
"But on the other hand, it was a very private thing. And this wasn’t what I was posting about. I was posting about an app. And here we are talking about the way I mother.”
Rocha admitted that while it has gotten easier over the years, some days are better than others.
“There are still days, not so much with Iver, I would cry in the shower over my choices that I felt were right when people were telling me they were wrong,” she said. “Or how people would say such nasty things. Sometimes you literally laugh at them.
"One person said I couldn’t have been pregnant, so it was a ‘stunt baby,’ which made me laugh so hard and I had to repost that. It was just incredible somebody would write something like that.”
While Rocha is open to sharing her experiences about being a mom with fans, she no longer tolerates hateful messages targeting her children.
“Some people go to the point of pure negativity and attacking instead of creating a conversation about it, which I’m totally fine with,” she said. “If you want to have a conversation on my social media, I’ll have it. But to just be negative? I now block everyone. I’ve blocked them all, which is good for my health.”
But in a surprising twist, it turns both Iver and Ioni, now 3 years old, have individual Instagram accounts of their own, which Rocha manages.
“The reason why I do it is because if I give you enough, you will not want much more from me,” she said. “A lot of my friends, when they don’t give anything, that’s when the paparazzi show up at schools, in front of their houses.
"The first time I brought Ioni out, a paparazzo decided to take photos of her right inside her stroller and we said no. And he said, ‘The freedom of the press.’ We decided we would have social media… so you never have to wonder what my children look like… There are people out there who feel like they need to know everything. I give a little bit so we can get the privacy we want.”
There’s also another reason why Rocha doesn’t mind having her children on social media, one mothers can easily identify with.
“I’m like any other mom who just shares their kids on Facebook and says how cute they are and they’re cuter than all your kids,” she laughed. “We’re all doing it. And I just love to share and show people.”
And as a parent, Rocha is eager to meet other parents and develop an open dialogue about their experiences — the good, bad and ugly.
“[I remember Ioni] having her first real fit of crying to the point where I couldn’t control her,” she explained about the then-newborn. “For some reason, I just couldn’t calm her down. I was an emotional wreck. I remember second-guessing everyone, like what was their reason for saying something to me.
"I remember having a serious conversation with my husband that day about how I was feeling. I think for women who are in that moment, when they are tired, overwhelmed, latching hurts, you can’t breastfeed, baby’s not taking formula — whatever it is.
“That conversation is so important. Whether it’s your friends, your community. But for me, the most important conversation is with your spouse and let them know how you’re feeling. Keeping it to yourself is not safe and it’s not good for you. And funny enough, after that conversation, the baby calmed down.”
Rocha is happily a hands-on mother while still maintaining a thriving career as a model, one she first launched when was reportedly just 14. And while it’s still difficult being separated from her family for even a day, Rocha wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m so lucky I get to travel with Ioni and Iver,” she explained. “But when my trips are too quick, say I go to Asia for a day, I’m not bringing [them] because it’s just unfair for them… I shouldn’t feel guilty, or shouldn’t be that upset, but my favorite thing is to be a mom.
"So not spending that one day with them, it hurts so much. You could still cry on the airplane, watching that cartoon. I have no problem with that. For the reason of missing them is wanting to be around them, not because of feeling guilty… We shouldn’t feel guilty to do our job to take care of them in the end. They will appreciate it.”