The model also reveals the motherhood advice she got from her good friend, Blake Lively.
Gigi Hadid is opening up about giving birth to her daughter, Khai, at her home in Pennsylvania with her boyfriend, Zayn Malik, by her side. The 25-year-old model covers the March 2021 issue of Vogue -- which was shot just 10 weeks after she gave birth in September -- and shares intimate details about her 14-hour labor.
Hadid says she originally planned to give birth at a New York City hospital, but after she and 28-year-old Malik watched the 2008 documentary The Business of Being Born -- which is critical of the American health care system and its use of medicines and interventions during childbirth -- they decided to give birth at home. A big factor was also COVID restrictions, which would have meant her mother, Yolanda Hadid, and her sister, Bella Hadid, could not be present for Khai's birth. Hadid also chose not to get an epidural.
"I had to dig deep,” she says of the pain she experienced. "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."
"I know my mom and Zayn and Bella were proud of me, but at certain points I saw each of them in terror," she continues. "Afterward, Z and I looked at each other and were like, 'We can have some time before we do that again.'"
Hadid reveals that she and Malik listened to audio of the 1980 children's novel The Indian in the Cupboard during her early hours of labor, a favorite of both of theirs. The former One Direction singer also caught Khai when she came out.
"It didn't even click that she was out," Hadid recalls of the special moment. "I was so exhausted, and I looked up and he's holding her. It was so cute."
"She was so bright right away," she adds. "That's what I wanted for her, a peaceful bringing to the world."
Hadid is now taking her time when it comes to getting back to work and candidly talks about her body changing after giving birth.
"I know that I'm not as small as I was before, but I also am a very realistic thinker," she says. "I straight up was like, 'Yeah, I'll shoot a Vogue cover, but I'm obviously not going to be a size 0,' nor do I, at this point, feel like I need to be back to that. I also think it's a blessing of this time in fashion that anyone who says that I have to be that can suck it."
As for how she and Malik want to raise Khai, Hadid says they definitely feel happiest on their family farm in Pennsylvania. Above all, they are prioritizing protecting their child's privacy. The new mom says she she got advice from her friend, Blake Lively, who has kept her three daughters with her husband, Ryan Reynolds, largely out of the public eye.
Speaking of Lively and Reynolds, Hadid notes, "I have friends who are public figures and that's how they've gone about it, and I see their kids really blossom in a different way."
Hadid says she and Malik also want their daughter to be exposed to different religions and be allowed to pick and choose what she wants to follow, and to be proud of her background.
"My brother [Anwar Hadid], when he was in elementary school, someone said to him, 'Your dad's a terrorist,' because that was after 9/11," Hadid recalls, referring to their father, Mohamed Hadid, being Muslim. "I think that [Zayn and I] both want our daughter to understand fully all of her background -- and also we want to prepare her. If someone does say something to her at school, we want to give her the tools to understand why other kids would do that and where that comes from."
Vogue's March 2021 issue is available on newsstands nationwide on Feb. 16.
Meanwhile, a source recently told ET that the model is "a natural" when it comes to being a mom and that she and Malik are stronger than ever.
"They are so in love and having a baby together has brought them even closer," the source said. "They share the same values when it comes to culture, family and parenting. Gigi and Zayn both have very close relationships with their families and raising their daughter with that same loving environment is very important to them."