Millie Mackintosh: ‘As A New Mum, Everyone Expects You To Be So Happy And Radiant’

Millie writes for Grazia about her experience with the baby blues and becoming a mother in 2020.

Instagram / Millie Mackintosh

by Millie Mackintosh |
Updated on

If somebody told me last year I would be halfway through my first pregnancy in 2020, alongside a global pandemic, and I might have to give birth without my partner - there is absolutely no way I would have believed them. I don’t think anyone would!

For many people, it has been - and continues to be - a scary time. When lockdown first happened, I had two months left of my pregnancy. I was very anxious at the beginning; as we didn’t really know what the risks were, and as a precaution. pregnant women were put into the high risk category. Suddenly, overnight I went from thinking I wasn’t really at risk to worrying if my unborn baby was in danger.

Once we started to get more official medical information around transmission and how to protect ourselves and our home, I started to settle into it, as there was nothing else to do. Lockdown meant that I could ease away from work earlier than I first anticipated, which meant I could really start to nest and get ready for the arrival of our gorgeous little girl.

With Sienna being our first child, I of course envisioned my loved ones being able to visit us in hospital after the birth. But sadly this wasn't going to be the case. In order to keep everyone - including other patients and the amazing hospital staff - safe, we had to adhere to the hospital regulations. Although that upset me a bit, I was far more distressed to be told two weeks before the birth that Hugo (my husband) wouldn’t be able to stay or visit me in hospital while I recovered from the C-Section. Luckily, he was present at the birth, which we were very grateful for as I know a lot of other parents weren't given this opportunity.

Although we had these very unnatural restrictions and obstacles the doctors, nurses and midwives were incredible and overall it was a really positive birth experience. I was very calm and organised with my diffuser, essential oils and a classical playlist creating a calm environment before I waddled into the theatre. I was freaked out at the thought of being awake during surgery and I thought I'd be really nervous beforehand - but on the day, something took over. I felt calm - and so excited to meet Sienna. The birth happened really quickly. Sienna was breech and the first time I was aware she had been born was when I heard my obstetrician laughing because she came out bottom first and did a wee in the air!

Thank God for modern technology – although I was in the hospital for a few days on my own, I constantly kept in touch with Hugo and my family so I didn’t really ever feel too lonely. And, at the same time, it was also nice to be completely focused on Sienna - I was trying to get the hang of breastfeeding, which is really quite tricky in the beginning. I also, probably a little bit selfishly, loved having our own time before the big world infiltrated our bubble.

It was a few weeks before my parents and close friends first saw Sienna. It’s so surreal when your loved ones meets your baby for the first time - it makes it feel so much more real. But, being completely honest, I think the lockdown restrictions worked in my favour - because I really didn’t want to have to put a brave face on when having visitors.

As a new mum, everyone expects you to be so radiant and happy - but as I recently mentioned on Instagram, for about six weeks, I really struggled with the baby blues. They kicked in three days following the birth, with all the hormonal changes that happen and are heightened with breastfeeding. Other mums warned me that I might feel a bit tearful in those days, but nothing prepared me for how confusing that period of time would be.

I kept thinking 'here I am: I've got this beautiful baby, I've got this amazing husband - and we're so lucky.' I was asking myself, ‘why am I sad?’ And then, when you feel guilty for these feelings, you find yourself getting into a real cycle. Hugo found it really hard to see me cry, because, obviously, the first thing you want to do when someone you love is upset is to try and fix it. But, once he understood that it would pass, he was really good at either giving me a hug, or giving me the space I needed. I was very selective with who I told, but other friends who are mums and had been through similar things were really supportive.

Of course, I also worried that it could be a bigger problem, and I might be potentially developing post-natal depression. After three weeks of ups and downs, I spoke to my obstetrician, who explained it was probably just my hormones. By keeping a diary I could keep a track of how I felt, and once I got to the six week mark, I could see that there were less days where I was feeling so sad which instantly made me feel more positive and in control.

Sharing my experiences on Instagram, at a time when I feel ready, is not only cathartic for me but it’s a great way to share with others who might be going through the same thing. Baby blues is a hard topic for women and their partners to speak about. I think by being more honest about these experiences, it helps everyone feel less alienated. When I did post about having the baby blues, the response was overwhelming - it made me tearful looking through the comments. So many mothers understood, and others were sharing their own advice for dealing with the difficult time which was incredible.

I’ve been looking through memories with Sienna this morning - I can’t believe she’s six months old now! Even though I was emotional, the first few days where everything was so new were really special and beautiful. I’m now really, really looking forward to our first Christmas as a family this year. I’ll be cooking turkey with all the trimmings - and hopefully, if the restrictions are eased, I’ll be able to have a small group of family round. I’m going to have to stop myself from turning the house into a Grotto. After the year we’ve all had, I think Christmas is just what we need!

READ MORE: MillIe Mackintosh: 'I've Struggled With My Body Image Post-Pregnancy'

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