Millie Mackintosh appears in her kitchen via the power of Zoom, breastfeeding her 10-week-old daughter, Sienna. “This is Sienna – she’s an angel,” Millie says showing off her and husband, Hugo Taylor‘s newborn to the camera. “She has started doing the explosive poos and all of that, now,” Millie continues beaming with pride.
I have known Millie for a few years now and I have never seen her glow like this. “I am madly in love,” she replies as I comment on that JLO level of glow. “I’ve got that newly in love again glow – I think it’s that first love feeling.”
Here, Millie discusses how as a first-time mother she feels the need to give back more than any before, gets candid about her birth, breastfeeding, and why she doesn’t want to get her pre pregnancy body back. We are SO here for this…
It must have been so weird to become a mother for the first time whilst being in lockdown…
It has been pretty weird but to be honest it’s been a more positive thing for us. Obviously, it’s been awful, it’s affected everyone, but being heavily pregnant and being a new Mum, you locked down anyway, you want to be at home, and you don’t want to be really seeing people. It’s really made us focus on our time with the baby, bonding with her, figuring it out. Just Hugo being here too has been amazing as he would have been back at work after two weeks and he’s still at home now. To have that time together as a family I feel really lucky and to have him helping with the baby.
It must be so strange making such a massive adjustment to your life at a time of turmoil too…
The beginning bit was really tough, and first few weeks felt really hard. Now I’m coming through the other side of it, I am feeling a little bit more myself. I think I have started to enjoy it more and more each day. I’ve had lots of friends who said that actually it just gets better and better as it goes on, as the weeks go by. I’m loving just seeing all the changes in her. It’s just so incredible just watching her. She’s such a tiny time stealer. The other day I just realised I had been staring at Sienna for two hours when I had loads of things to do! It’s so special having that one-on-one time with her and just having time to rest as well. You’ve have got to recover.
Sometimes I will even spend some time doing my hair in the mornings and she’ll just vomit it in my hair and then it goes all crispy. I call it regurgitate delay, like, ‘I’ve got some regurgitate delay in my hair!’ Then you’ll take off her nappy and she’ll poo on you. You’re literally covered in poo and sick and you have put on a nice outfit.
Did you feel a little daunted by venturing out again given the climate?
Yeah, I still was at first. You are also just worried you’re going to forget something really important. What you’re going to do if she starts wailing? Before it’s happened, it’s the first time for everything feels a bit scary.
Do you feel like you were always destined to be a mum now you are one?
It’s amazing. When she smiles, I just think, ‘this is the reason for life. This is literally why we’re here. This is the best moment ever!’ When I was a child, I was obsessed with babies – I just wanted my own baby ever since I was really little. I’ve always been really in to helping out with other people’s kids and I used to babysit a lot when I was younger. I’d say I’ve got quite a maternal instinct so luckily; it’s felt quite natural and she’s just incredible. I feel very lucky that I had such a positive thing to see me through lockdown, because it made it very scary as well. I was worried how COVID could affect us and if it dangerous for babies and dangerous when you’re pregnant. But having her and it being such a positive happy time, it shielded me a bit from what was going on outside.
That’s amazing that whilst this has been difficult time for mental health, having a baby has been so great for your mental wellbeing…
Definitely! She’s been my focus through it and it’s a weird thing to have happen, it’s horrific. A big positive from it was also seeing how people are coming together to do these amazing things like the clapping! I would cry every week on Thursday night when everyone would clap for the NHS workers. I was so emotional.
Exactly! That is why it’s so great you have teamed up with Halfpenny to give back to the NHS workers…
I’ve been really shielded from what’s going on. I’ve been at home having my baby, but the NHS workers have been through all of it on the front line. It’s saving lives, risking their own lives and we’ve never gone through anything like this before. I think we’re so lucky in this country to have the NHS. In so many other countries that they don’t have access to healthcare, but we do here.
Plus, for everyone who is planning a wedding this summer, it’s been really devastating that they would have had to move their wedding. So, I feel like it’s especially important to give back to NHS brides and to have a Kate Halfpenny dress to me, was the most incredible experience. It made me feel absolutely amazing on the day and to have the experience of actually meeting Kate and having her do the fittings as well, which is what the brides will get. They’ll get the chance to feel really special and be really made a fuss over and have this incredible dress for their day. So, it’s something I definitely wanted to share having had that experience and feeling incredibly lucky to have had it. So, it’s such a nice way to give back.
What was the experience like working with Kate Halfpenny on your own wedding dress?
I would say just Kate’s designs are so unique with the amazing attention to detail and the most beautiful fabrics. It was Kate’s personality as well – it was just really fun. It was really fun getting a little bit back into designing, too. Sorry going to change boobs…
What was giving birth like for you?
I was in an NHS hospital, but I was in a private wing. So, the staff aren’t NHS, they’re separately and privately employed. I gave birth during lockdown and there were so many restrictions in place at that stage. There were lots of conversations with my medical support team leading up to the birth and we didn’t know if Hugo was going to be allowed in.
That was one of the ways it did really affect me – just not knowing would Hugo be able to be there for the birth or not. He luckily was but I had to mentally prepare for whatever could happened, but I knew I was going to be okay and the baby was going to be okay. That was the most important thing, that she arrived safely. I was so glad that Hugo was there, and it was the most incredible moment of my life. I’m really lucky that during Coronavirus I gave birth and still managed for it to be a really positive experience.
As a new mum though you know that you can rely on the NHS. With a young baby, there’s often times when they have a really bad fever or a rash and you’re not sure what it is and you’ve got these great A&E departments there which we are so lucky to have, they will see you really quickly because obviously it’s a baby. That makes me feel a lot safer. If there was an accident and Sienna was hurt, I feel safe knowing that I’d be able to rely on the NHS. I feel so grateful to have that.
You have always had such a strong relationship with your body image. Does going through childbirth give you a new appreciation for your body?
When you really think about it, it’s still nuts, I grew a fully formed baby human inside me! I had a life growing inside of me and you literally look at your body in such a different way. It’s made me realize how critical I’ve been of my body in the past. I really just see it in a new light now – I’m just giving my body a whole lot of new love. I’ve started walking every day, I’ve started doing a bit of strength training again and it’s nice to feel like I’m just getting stronger. I just don’t like the term, ‘getting my body back,’ because I think it’s a new body, it’s different, you’ve given birth. So, it’s not your old body anymore.
I’m looking back pictures before where I might have been like, ‘Oh, I didn’t like how my body looks like that in that angle,’ and actually now I realise I looked great. Comparison is one of the worst things you can do and I’m guilty of it, I’ve done it. You see other girls on Instagram or other people you might know, and they literally look the same again, two weeks later after giving birth, like they’ve never even had a baby. It’s hard to not compare yourself and think, ‘how is their stomach’s completely flat two weeks later?’ And then look down and think, ‘I still look pregnant!’ But then you have to just remember what your body has done and we’re all so different. Everyone has such different experiences with how it affects them and their bodies. You can’t compare yourself to other people, but I have definitely done it and it’s made me feel horrible. So, don’t do it.
Has breastfeeding been an amazing bonding experience?
It definitely has. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard at times as well. I found it really difficult at the beginning and really painful. It also does take up quite a lot of the day. It’s such a short amount of her life, and later I’m sure when I have stopped doing it, I’ll really miss it and be really sad. So, I’m trying to just make the most of it and enjoy those little moments when I look down and she gives me a little smile.
What do you think you’ve learned about yourself through being a mother over the last 10 weeks?
I’d say it’s shown me I’m stronger than I think. I actually can cope with sleep deprivation and I wondered how I was going to cope but you just get on with it. It’s hard, but you just pull through. I think it’s definitely teaching me more patience, which is good and that I can’t be in control of everything all the time, because I’m a bit of a control freak. So, I think it just teaching me a bit more sort of relax and just go with the flow a little bit, because these babies are not robots, they will go at their own pace.
At a time when she is at her happiest, Millie has decided to help give back by teaming up with Halfpenny London, the designer of her own wedding dress, in support of NHS brides-to-be. The wedding dress designer of dreams will give away £2000 towards five NHS workers’ dream dress and one lucky winner will also win two outfits from their Sister collection for their bridesmaids. If you are an NHS frontline worker, you can enter the competition here.
Speaking about the competition, Kate Halfpenny, the founder of Halfpenny London, says: “The world has been turned completely upside down by this pandemic. We’re all well aware of the hardships ordinary people have faced throughout this time but I think few of us have any idea what it must be like to be on the NHS frontline at any time, never-mind right now. The people of the NHS have done so much for me and my family. From the wonderful support I received throughout my pregnancy and safe delivery of my son, to recently saving my mum’s life. My mum is one of the most precious and influential people to me.”
“It was devastating sending her off in the ambulance not knowing if I would see her again,” Kate continues. “I feel so incredibly blessed to say I did and that’s thanks to the incredible, speedy actions from those who cared for her. The NHS staff never failed to make sure she had the best care and didn’t stop until they found an answer, all the time shielding her from Covid19. I’m completely in awe of these brave people and wanted to offer some joy by giving someone the wedding dress of their dreams and treating them like the superstar they are!”
Enter the Halfpenny London competition HERE. The bridal designer is giving five NHS brides £2000 towards their wedding dress and one lucky winner will win two dresses from Halfpenny London’s sister brand for their bridesmaids.