Nicki Minaj opens up about navigating parental anxiety after birth of her son

Rapper Nicki Minaj was taken into police custody in Amsterdam after she was accused of ‘carrying drugs’ (AFP via Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj has opened up about her feelings of anxiety after becoming a new mother.

The rapper, 40, is the latest Vogue cover star for the magazine’s December 2023 issue. Speaking to the publication, Minaj shared many details about her ongoing motherhood journey, after she and husband Kenneth Petty welcomed their son in 2020.

Minaj and Petty, who were married in 2019, were formerly high school sweethearts and grew up together in the same neighbourhood in Queens, New York. The “Superbass” singer explained how Petty was unfazed by her level of fame, and noted that he even calls her by her real name - Onika Tanya Maraj.

“Because I’ve known my husband for so long, there’s an ease we have with each other,” she told Vogue. “We make each other laugh. We’re silly. And we’re always reminiscing about some old story. If it was a guy that I met as Nicki Minaj, I think I’d feel like they liked me because I’m Nicki Minaj, and what if I don’t look like Nicki Minaj every day? And that, combined with pregnancy, would probably have made me crazy.”

The pair welcomed their son, who Minaj has nicknamed “Papa Bear” on social media in order to keep his privacy, on 30 September 2020. The “Barbie World” rapper admitted that she and Petty struggled with their relationship after becoming a family of three, much like many couples do when they become new parents.

“I’m not going to lie, things got testy between us. Because of our history, I think we knew we’d get past it. But there’s no such thing as confidence in parenthood,” she explained, before recalling the amount of anxiety she felt after becoming a mother.

“I kind of wish that someone had told me - although I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to understand it - that there’s a level of anxiety, and you think it’s going to go away, but in fact it gets scarier,” Minaj added. “So often you think: I don’t know how to do this!”

Minaj’s highly-anticipated fifth studio album, Pink Friday 2, is due for release on 8 December. The “Starships” singer previously told her millions of fans on X, formerly known as Twitter, that she had “decided to retire and have my family” just one month before she and Petty were married. However, the Grammy nominee soon realised that the studio was still calling her name - even if that meant needing to balance her family life with her professional career.

“I think that deep down inside, I believed that once I had a family, I would just lose the desire to make music,” Minaj told Vogue. “I would always tell people: ‘Watch, when I have a child I’m going to cook every meal for him and bake cookies every day.’ Maybe subconsciously I hoped my focus would just be on being a mother, and I looked forward to that idea. It felt like a relief. But what happens is that you find out you have to work.”

This isn’t the first time Minaj has opened up about feeling anxiety as a new mother. In an interview with E! News published in October 2022, the rapper revealed that she often feels like her “heart is being ripped out” when she is away from her now-three-year-old son.

“I hate that I have more anxiety now because you’re like: ‘What if the one time I leave my child, I get that phone call?’” she said at the time. “I think moms feel like they have to be perfect.”

Minaj then recalled when she was in the United Kingdom and started “bawling” over being away from her son. “And when I try to FaceTime him, I get more sad,” she said. “So, I try to hold out on FaceTiming him because to then put the phone down is so difficult.”

The “Super Freaky Girl” rapper shared that she and Petty have never hired a nanny to take care of their baby. “I’m a Trinidadian woman,” she said. “Culturally, we’re not really used to nannies and strangers taking care of the babies.

“It’s not a bad thing when moms do it. It’s just that I have to get conditioned. I have to get it out of my mind that it’s a weird thing, because there are tons of celebrities that are doing it and they’re raising amazing children.”

Back in September 2020, Minaj announced the birth of her son by posting several photographs of handwritten notes from her celebrity friends congratulating her on the baby news. One of the pictures in the post featured a note from Beyoncé, which read: “Onika, welcome to motherhood. God bless you and your family. B.”

“Thank you to Queen B, Kim & Ye, Riccardo Tisci, Winnie, Karol and everyone who sent well wishes during this time. It meant the world to me,” Minaj captioned her post. “I am so grateful and in love with my son. Madly in love. My favorite liddo boy in the whole wide world.”