Priyanka Chopra reflects on her daughter’s 100 days in the NICU: ‘I had to be her strength’

Priyanka Chopra has candidly reflected on how she and husband Nick Jonas cared for their daughter, Malti, during the 100 days she spent in the neonatal intensive care unit after her birth.

Chopra, 40, opened up about the scary experience after the birth of her daughter in January 2022 during a recent cover interview with Hoda Kotb for Today’s spring issue. During the interview, she confessed that, when she first discovered her child was going to be born early, she leaned on Jonas for support.

“I remember he just held me by my shoulders, and I said: ‘Just tell me what to do, because I don’t know what to do,’” the Quantico star recalled. “And he’s like: ‘Just get into the car with me.’ And we drove to the hospital. She was born, and from the moment she took her first breath to now, she’s never been without one of us, ever.”

When Malti was born, she spent 110 days in the NICU, an intensive care unit for newborns. After initially staying at a specialised centre at Rady Children’s Hospital in La Jolla, California, the then-newborn was moved to the NICU at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, as noted by Today.

Chopra told Kotb that, during this time, she and Jonas would take turns going to the NICU so one of them was always with their baby, who they welcomed via surrogate.

She also opened up about how much Malti was physically struggling, and the responsibility she had to stay by her child’s side.

“I don’t think it was our test. I think it was her test,” Chopra said about her daughter’s time in the NICU. “I realised very, very early that I did not have the luxury to be scared or to be weak, because she was scared and weak. And I had to be her strength as her mom. I needed to make her feel at every given moment that she’s not alone…that we’ve got her.”

However, she admitted that it also wasn’t easy bringing her daughter home from the hospital, since she knew that she was “alive” in the NICU because she could see her baby’s heartbeat on the monitor.

“I couldn’t sleep for days, because now suddenly she was home without a monitor. I used to put my ear on her chest,” Chopra said. “I would wake up every couple of minutes just to see if she was okay. For weeks, this went on.”

In May 2022, Chopra and Jonas first revealed on Instagram that their daughter had spent “100 days in the NICU”. Their joint post included a photo of them holding their baby, as they reflected on the last few months in the caption.

“On this Mother’s Day, we can’t help but reflect on these last few months and the rollercoaster we’ve been on, which we now know so many people have also experienced,” they wrote at the time. “After 100 plus days in the NICU, our little girl is finally home.”

Since welcoming her baby, Chopra has continued to speak out about the difficult time. During an interview with British Vogue in January, she acknowledged how “small” Malti was when she was born.

“I saw what the intensive care nurses do,” the Love Again star said. “They do God’s work. Nick and I were both standing there as they intubated her. I don’t know how they even found what they needed [in her tiny body] to intubate her.”

Chopra also spoke about her and Jonas’ decision to use a surrogate, explaining: “I had medical complications. [Surrogacy] was a necessary step, and I’m so grateful I was in a position where I could do this. Our surrogate was so generous, kind, lovely, and funny, and she took care of this precious gift for us for six months.”