Millie Mackintosh became a household name as one of the original cast of glossy reality show Made In Chelsea, which detailed the private lives of a group of 20-something socialites.
But in the seven years since she left the show, Mackintosh, 31, has become a fitness and wellbeing influencer in her own right, thanks to her love for Pilates and high-intensity workouts.
More recently though, she’s swapped yoga retreats for nappies after welcoming her daughter Sienna in May, a joyful journey she’s been sharing with her 2 million followers on Instagram.
Mackintosh, who is married to fellow former MIC star Hugo Taylor, says the adjustment has been tough at times but she’s happier than ever as a parent. We talked to Mackintosh to find out more…
How have you found life as a new mum?
“It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but I can say that it’s been best time in my life, so far. I’m loving each new experience with Sienna and each chapter as it brings on new developments.
“Sienna is at such a cute age right now. She can’t crawl yet but she can sit up and it feels like she’s really interacting with us. She’s becoming such a little person already. We’re obsessed with her.”
You’ve been sharing your post-partum fitness journey on Instagram. Has exercise helped you find balance as a parent?
“It’s really helped me to just have a bit of ‘me’ time. I try to take Sienna out at least once a day, but I’ve been recently finding it’s nice to just go on a walk alone with my headphones in, listening to a podcast or good playlist.
“I’ve been doing a couple of jogs recently too. I’ve been off running so far, but gentle jogging has helped me feel so much better.
“At home, I do Pilates and a little bit of strength training with a few basic weights. Sienna is pretty heavy already and when picking her up off the floor, I quickly realised I needed to build strength so I felt safe handling her, especially because I had a C-section.
“There are still some movements that do feel a bit funny, but I feel strong again and exercise has been a big part of that. I think it will probably take me a year to feel as strong as I was before.”
Do you think there’s a pressure to lose weight after having a baby?
“I think society does put a lot of pressure on women to ‘bounce back’. It’s a term I think is very harmful for women. I’ve got friends that looked like they did pre-pregnancy a couple of weeks after giving birth, and that’s amazing, but it doesn’t happen for everyone. Every body is so different and every pregnancy is too.
“I definitely found myself comparing my body to how other women looked post-pregnancy, and it made me feel quite down. I felt guilty for caring about how I looked after having a baby too, but we’re all human and it’s completely normal – we shouldn’t judge ourselves for being too critical about how we’re looking and feeling.
“Nobody can really prepare you for how you’re going to feel after having a baby. People talk about women’s bodies when they’re pregnant and they’re really celebrated, but women’s bodies after pregnancy? Not so much. I think we really need to work on that.
“I still looked pregnant for about three months at least after having Sienna. A bit of time has helped, as well as exercise and eating more mindfully.”
You bravely opened up on Instagram about your experience with post-natal depression. Did the PND take you by surprise?
“It did. I tried to prepare myself about what to expect after the birth by taking some virtual classes, which mentioned you can feel tearful and overwhelmed at first, but I didn’t expect it to last as long as it did.
“It lasted for the first couple of weeks and it happened quite a lot; most days I’d say. It was difficult because I’d think, ‘Shouldn’t I feel happy right now?’ And I did feel happy, just not all the time. You’re very overtired as well.
“When I got out of it, I felt so relieved and now it feels like a distant memory. But at the time, I remember really worrying it might not pass, or that I wouldn’t be able to care for Sienna. I got myself into a really anxious thought cycle around it.”
What’s your advice for other new mums with PND?
“I would just say don’t internalise it. Speaking to other mums who have been through it made me feel better, as they assured me it would pass. Sometimes just crying on the phone to my mum or friends helped too. By my six-week check-up, it had kind of passed.
“Self-care can really help too, even if it’s just taking a bath, having a nap or watching something trashy on Netflix.”
What’s your typical Saturday morning like now?
“It’s definitely changed a lot – no more lazy mornings in bed with a hangover! Sienna wakes around 7am. She’s been weaning for a few months now and she’s really enjoying her food. I’ll make her a fruit porridge with whatever we have in the house; this morning she had banana porridge with almond milk and almond butter.
“I like to try as many different textures and flavours as possible, which means it can be quite a messy affair. WaterWipes come in very handy for cleaning her, because she always manages to get it all over her face and hands, even though I’m spoon-feeding her.
“I want to make sure I’m using the most gentle, pure and safe products on Sienna and I’ve been using these from birth, as they’re made up of 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract.”
Have you got a specific parenting style and are you following any rules?
“I feel like we’re completely winging it. I read one book that was really helpful, called The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan by Alison Scott-Wright, which really helped with Sienna’s routine, but I would say we’re making up our own parenting style as we’re going along. You have just do what’s right for you, as there’s so much different advice out there.”
Have you learnt anything new about yourself during 2020?
“I really love staying in! I was a homebody already but I like to entertain at home, and I really miss having friends and family over. I am getting quite bored of my own cooking though, so I really hope we can get to some nice restaurants next year.”
Millie Mackintosh is supporting WaterWipes, which has just launched the Pure Foundation Fund to support and recognise the great work of healthcare professionals caring for new mums and their babies, especially during these challenging times. Visit waterwipes.com.