"I thought I was going to be one of those Mother Nature girls," the singer, 37, tells Elle magazine for its February issue, about childbirth. "I figured, I'll just squeeze it out, 'cause I'm really strong and I work out and stuff."
Only, instead, she was surprised to find herself short of breath and not functioning at 100 percent before giving birth in May to son Kingston Rossdale.
"I would be seriously crying before I went onstage," she recalls. "I didn't know how I was going to get through the tour, putting on nine costume changes on a stage in front of 12,000 people every night. And I didn't want people to know (I was pregnant). I didn't want to become the Gwen Freak Circus Show – 'Watch it grow onstage.' "
But that was then. Now, "Kingston is so chill," says the proud mom. "He goes with me everywhere, 'cause I'm still nursing. He's been to every studio in L.A., New York, London. He lives up to his name – total Rasta boy."
Then there are the tangible pleasures he provides. "He gives me real balance. You can go 100 miles an hour, but you still have to stop to hang out with him," she says.
For instance, it was not until after they tied the knot in 2002 that she learned he was the father of an illegitimate child, who is now a teenager.
But, she also says of their relationship, "This is, like, the real deal."