Ashley Tisdale, the actress, singer, and producer known for playing the deliciously villainous Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical franchise, is officially a quadruple threat, having launched a lifestyle blog, Frenshe, last year. (The title is a nod to her married name; she tied the knot with musician Christopher French in 2013.) But in 2021, Tisdale added “mom” to her already extensive list of achievements. Her daughter Jupiter was born in March, and since giving birth, Tisdale has been refreshingly open, both on her blog and social media, about the trials and tribulations of new parenthood. Here, she gets real about her journey to formula feeding and partnering with Enfamil Enspire, self care, and the Instagram filters we all put on parenthood.
Why do you think so many people feel like they can’t be honest about the challenges of new parenthood?
I feel like maybe it’s the whole Instagram effect. You know, everything looks perfect… but we all know it’s not. So it’s a kind of filter. I think sometimes moms, especially new moms, don’t want to share certain experiences, because then they feel like they’re not being the best parent. And it’s like, no! Who even said that was a thing? Just be open and real. No one’s perfect at this! I think being real and being honest is just more authentic in everything that we do, and it’s especially important to be like that as a new mom.
Why did you decide to speak out so openly? Was it a conscious choice?
I have a blog, Frenshe, that started as a way to write about my journey in non-toxic living. So I think I’ve been very honest about things that scare me, and about being vulnerable — talking about when I took my [breast] implants out and stuff like that. So once I made that choice to be very open with the community at Frenshe, the mom stuff was a no-brainer. If anything, the reason I do Frenshe is to help in their journey, based on what I’ve been through and what I’ve learned. So with the breastfeeding situation, when it was not working out for me and Jupiter, I was just like, you know what? I have to talk about this.
How soon after birth did you realize that your postpartum experience with Jupiter was going to be different than you envisioned?
It was right away, but when I make a decision, I make a decision, so I have to give myself time to make sure it’s the right one. During the first feeding she was really frustrated and crying. She gets hangry like me! I had that plastic nipple shield that they give you when you’re having trouble latching, and that was dreadful. And then I realized that my cortisol was going up, and I was getting stressed because it wasn’t working. For two weeks I tried to keep going, but I realized that there was a really negative feeling around her feeding time, and I didn’t like that. I said to my husband, “It’s so important that this is positive.” So I just kept seeing red flags, and then the minute I gave her the bottle, she loved it.
I had no guilt about switching to formula. I just listened to Jupiter’s cues and made the choice. As I did my research, I found Enspire by Enfamil. It’s [their] closest formula to breastmilk because of the lactoferrin [a protein also found in breastmilk that helps support the immune system and intestinal development], and once I saw all the key ingredients, and that it was the #1 pediatrician-recommended formula, I was like, OK, cool; this is it. And Jupiter immediately loved it! It was honestly the best thing that could have happened for us, because I was really striving with the breastfeeding, and it was just so much pressure and stress in a moment when you’re already physically going through so much postpartum. The choice to switch to formula was the best decision for her, and in a weird way it helped me too. It gave me so much less stress, and it has been the best experience. This partnership with Enfamil is so important to me because I want the moms who don’t have a good breastfeeding experience to know that there are other options. I still get to have such a great experience feeding my baby.
What else about new parenthood has surprised you?
Feeding was the biggest hurdle, but what has surprised me most other than that is my parenting style. I’m very Type A in life, and I actually really have let go a lot. I’m more go with the flow, and I approach Jupiter in that way as well. It feels good to take a relaxed approach and just be super present with my baby.
On Instagram, you often post about your “Self care Sundays.” What are you doing for self care these days?
For self care, I love to take baths. And working out — I feel really good afterwards. I love chamomile tea; I have it every night after I put Jupiter to bed. Also, just watching TV with my husband! So many moms in the beginning were like, “Oh you’ll never hang out with your husband or watch TV again,” and I always thought that was so scary, because one of my favorite things is watching movies and TV shows with my husband. But you can do it! You just have to find the time and choose it with each other.
Now that you’re four months in — basically a pro — do you have any thoughts on how we can do better for new moms as a culture, and help everyone feel seen no matter what they’re struggling with?
I think we just need to show more support and be more open about our journeys. I think the more we share with each other, the more we’ll feel supported. And yes, every journey is different, and every baby is different, but we aren’t alone. Every time I call a friend in a panic, they’re like, “Oh yeah, don’t worry — that happens.” That’s how we need to be there for each other.
For tips, discounts and the chance to win free formula for a year, sign up for Enspire Family Beginnings today. Enfamil Enspire is Enfamil’s closest formula to breast milk. It offers 5 important nutrient benefits in one formula to support the overall health and development of your baby including immune and gut health, language development†, motor skills*, and attention span**. You can learn more about Enspire here.
None of the statements contained in this article have been reviewed by a Physician. This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only.
* At 18 months
** At one year of age
† At 12 months