Two weeks after welcoming her daughter, Harper Renn, into the world, White Collar star Tiffani Thiessen is relaxing into her role as a new mom. "The first night home was so overwhelming and surreal," says the 36-year-old, who began modeling at the age of 8, won America's heart as the adorable cheerleader Kelly Kapowski on the NBC hit Saved by the Bell, and later broke hearts and the rules as resident bad girl Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills, 90210.
"Every baby is different, and it's just getting to know her and what she needs. Harper was up a lot that first night because we weren't burping her long enough," she says, referring to her husband, actor Brady Smith, whom she married in 2005. "But now she's gotten into a rhythm. She's been feeding and sleeping great, and we're falling more in love with her every day."
A far cry from her life on the set of the USA Network series, Thiessen's schedule has been filled with diaper changes, short walks, and lots of rest and recovery. "All in all, it was a 30-hour natural labor which, sadly, ended up in a C-section," says Thiessen, who'd planned to use hypnotherapy in lieu of pain medication. "The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice. I was disappointed, but she's healthy and happy, and that's all we can ask for."
Thiessen's C-Section Recovery
Post-op, the outdoor enthusiast -- Thiessen ran regularly before becoming pregnant, and she was clocking two-and-a-half-hour hikes well into her seventh month -- went right back to her all-natural ways. "It's a harder recovery, but I didn't want to put anything else in [Harper's] body," says the now-breastfeeding mom who's dealing with the aches and pains without medication. "All the things that were important for her while I was pregnant are important for her now. I'm drinking lots of water, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding anything that would give her too much gas."
A former vegetarian, Thiessen started eating red meat during pregnancy to increase her low iron level (she can't tolerate soy products, which are also rich in iron), and plans to keep meat in her diet as a breastfeeding mom. "PETA was really upset with me because I was a vegetarian for so many years." Still, Thiessen, who recently teamed up with the World Society for the Protection of Animals to educate consumers about the importance of buying meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products from humanely raised animals, always reads labels when shopping. "It's super important to me," she says.
Thiessen's natural, wholesome approach to diet ebbs into other areas of her life as well. "Everything [babies] breathe and touch and everything they do is for a little, itty-bitty body, so we try to make it as natural and as clean as possible. The paint [in the nursery] is no-VOC, the bedding is all-natural linen, even the wood floors are eco-friendly." Petit Nest, Thiessen's new green line of cool-modern children's furniture and bedding, launches in October and is set to debut in stores early next year. "We're really excited about it," says Thiessen, who's partnered with designer and mom Lonni Paul.
When Thiessen returns to the New York set of White Collar, her husband and mom will join her and the baby. But when asked how she plans to juggle the new responsibilities of motherhood with a busy career, the actor takes a deep breath and laughs. "I have no idea! Let me tell you after."