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Becoming a mum for the first time is scary, but doing so in the middle of a global pandemic adds an extra layer of uncertainty. But for 31-year-old Millie Mackintosh, pregnancy and the birth of her first daughter, Sienna, last May was a welcome distraction from the horror that’s been going on around the world.
“It has definitely been a weird time to become a mum – it’s not something you imagine will ever happen,” Millie explains as we catch up on her motherhood journey so far. “But I feel super lucky to have Sienna keeping me positive. It has been tough at times but she puts a smile on my face. She’s been our ray of sunshine this year.”
Millie says it’s also been a joy to watch her husband of two-and-a-half years, Hugo Taylor, 34, become a parent and praises his “special bond” with their first child.
It’s a beautifully happy ending for the pair, who first met as teenagers and found fame on Made In Chelsea, only to go through a very public split. But since their reconciliation in 2016, shortly after Millie’s marriage to Professor Green ended, the couple have been the picture of bliss.
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“Becoming parents is like a team-building exercise,” Millie tells us of her relationship with sunglasses designer Hugo. “We’ve been good friends and have known each other since I was a teenager, so I feel very lucky that he’s my best friend as well as my husband and that we’ve been in it together.”
Here, Millie talks us through life as a first-time mum, her hopes for the next year and how she’s not putting pressure on herself to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight…
Hi Millie, how are you doing?
It feels 100% like Groundhog Day at the moment, so that’s what’s going on in my head at the moment!
You had coronavirus recently. How are you feeling now?
We had it a couple of months ago. Sienna was fine luckily – she seemed to have a bit of a cold if anything. But I felt quite fluey for a few days, Hugo didn’t feel too bad. He just had symptoms of a cold as well, so he helped me out with Sienna so I could rest. I definitely had low energy for a couple of weeks afterwards and a bit of brain fog. It really affected my sense of smell too, which still hasn’t really come back. I read about smell training, so I’ve been smelling essential oils every morning in the hope that it will come back.
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How is Sienna doing?
She started crawling between Christmas and New Year. It’s such a proud-mum moment, seeing her independently move. I feel like we’re really seeing her personality coming out more, too. She’s now started to pull herself up, so the next thing is going to be standing I think. She’s started doing a little wiggle when she likes a song, so we’ve been playing her lots of music and she loves to bash things. We’re trying to keep her entertained with lots of sensory activities. Her favourite things at the moment tend to be pots and pans. She wants to get involved with folding the laundry by pulling it all off the drying rack. She likes to get up to mischief and she’s definitely a little character.
She was diagnosed with hip dysplasia in August. How is she getting on now?
She seems to be doing really well. We have a follow-up appointment in about two weeks, but I think her movement seems absolutely fine and she’s actually started crawling quite early. So fingers crossed it’s all good. I think if they have any concerns they would do another scan or X-ray, but I’m remaining really positive that her wearing the harness has worked.
Was her diagnosis a shock?
It was a shock at the time and it was definitely hard to adapt to it. Looking back, it was only for six weeks as they caught it really early. Going through something challenging like that made us appreciate everything so much more when it came off, though.
What’s Hugo like as a dad?
Hugo’s been really amazing. He’s such a support and they get on really well. We joke that she’s better behaved with him than she is for me, which is really irritating! He plays her certain songs and they have their little routines. They have a really special bond. He often gives Sienna her bedtime bottle while I make dinner. On the weekends, we like to take it in turns to get up with her, so we can each have a bit of a lie-in.
What are the best baby products you’ve discovered?
I like to use things that are as gentle and natural as possible. I love Water Wipes – we have packs everywhere because they’re useful for everything. I really love the Boots Baby Nappy Cream and Aveeno Baby is great for body wash. Burt’s Bees do a lovely baby oil, too.
Is Sienna sleeping through the night?
She mostly sleeps through. Some weeks she might wake up three times in the night for a couple of nights, but then she goes back to sleeping through again, which I think is quite normal. We’re lucky she’s mainly a good sleeper because, for me, I started to feel more like myself again when I was getting proper sleep.
How is weaning going?
Really well! She has three meals a day and some snacks now as well. I chose to start doing spoon-fed rather than baby-led weaning, but I think we’re getting closer now to introducing some finger foods as well. It can be quite scary. She was eating a chick pea crisp the other day and my heart was in my mouth. I try not to project my fears onto her, but I think for any parent it’s scary watching your child learn something new like that.
How would you describe your parenting style?
I feel like we’re still figuring it out. I don’t know if one of us is stricter than the other. I’m quite keen on routine, but we both wanted to get her into a routine. We started at around four months. We’re just enjoying each stage and the challenges they bring. I’m really loving being a mum.
Will you have a gap before having another baby?
Every parent gets asked this and it is crazy to me. My head is so on Sienna at the moment. I’m definitely not planning or thinking about another baby any time soon.
Did you always know you wanted to be a mum?
I used to babysit and look after other people’s kids when I was a teenager and I have always been really drawn
to children. I do feel lucky that motherhood has felt quite natural but it comes with its challenges. Some days I feel like I’m nailing it, others I’m having a breakdown. So you have to take each day as it comes. But it definitely makes me feel very happy and like life has all fallen into place.
What are your hopes for Sienna over the next year?
It’s going to be amazing seeing her walk. I can’t wait for her to make
some friends, hear her first words and have proper chats with her. I chat to her all the time and she babbles back, but I can’t wait to have an actual conversation with her. When more baby classes are open, it will be fun to get her around other children more. I’m hoping this summer we can have some adventures, even in the UK, and go on road trips as a family. I’d love to
take her to the beach and some of the places I loved going to as a child in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
You’ve always been into fitness and healthy eating. How has that changed since becoming a mum?
I’ve definitely had to adapt. I went through a big change with pregnancy and of course lockdown as well. But I do find that, for my mental health, it makes me feel good to move as often as I can. It’s definitely not been about punishing myself
or trying to lose a certain amount of weight. I’ve tried not to be harsh on myself and just take a healthy approach, not do anything drastic and let my body recover fully.
What sort of exercise have you been doing?
I wouldn’t say I’m a good runner, but I’ve been going for 5km and 6km runs a couple of times a week and doing online classes, too. Sienna is getting really heavy now and before I know it she’s going to be running around everywhere and I just want to feel like I can keep up with her. I want to look after myself to be the best mum possible.
Has going through pregnancy and childbirth given you a new appreciation for your body?
Yes, 100%. I’ve never felt stronger and I have a whole lot more respect for my body. Yes, it does look different, but
I have to remember that it created a life and I remind myself of that if I ever start getting critical of the changes. I’ve really come to love my body post-baby actually. My hips are a bit wider, it hasn’t all gone back in the same place. But my body tells a story now and I feel strong.
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You share a lot about your life with Sienna on social media. Have all your fans been supportive?
I feel like everyone has been supportive and sweet. There’s been such a lovely response from the mum community out there. I find it really helpful sharing things I need help with and getting useful tips. There are occasional comments from the mum police, but you can’t please everyone and you’ve got to remember you’re just doing the best you can for your baby.
How do you unwind after a stressful day?
Reading a good book in the bath, going for a walk and taking some deep breaths or cooking a favourite meal. I’ll sit in bed with a hot chocolate and watch a bit of Married At First Sight Australia or a bit of Bridgerton. I like to zone out and have a bit of me-time, which I think is important at the moment.
What are your favourite go-to comfort meals?
I know everyone has been cooking it in lockdown, but we have made an astounding amount of banana bread! It never lasts long in our house. On the weekends, Hugo and I try to have date nights and recreate our favourite Italian meals. We try to do that once a week, either cooking or, if we’re really tired, just ordering in. It’s nice to make it feel special.
Millie is working with eco-friendly baby wipe company WaterWipes® to mark the launch of their 100% biodegradable baby wipes.
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