For as long as she can remember, Millie Mackintosh has always wanted to be a mum. "When I was a child I wanted to play at having a baby. You know, having a doll in its own little baby pram and growing up, I was always really sure that I did want kids," the former Made in Chelsea star tells us.
Her pregnancy with daughter Sienna was a bit of a mixed bag. Not helped by the looming threat of Coronavirus. "I was so happy to be pregnant," remembers Millie. "But there were ups and downs, I felt like I got a lot of the symptoms. I wasn't one of those people that just cruised through and felt normal and just had a bump. I was exhausted, I was sick. I had pelvic pain. So I did struggle with some of the physical symptoms. I definitely did feel a bit anxious early on and every scan, I'd be so nervous before, just wanting to make sure the baby was fine. And then obviously, with the worries of COVID, when they weren't really sure what the risks were and pregnant women were put in a high-risk category, that was quite scary."
It was honestly the best day of my life.
The birth was, fortunately, a positive experience for Millie and her family, despite being a little different to how she first imagined it. "Sienna was breech so I knew I was having a C-section," Millie tells us. "So it wasn't a shock and I was really comfortable with it. It was a really incredible experience. It was a bit overwhelming but I'd done a lot of hypnobirthing to prepare. I was worried I'd be a complete anxious mess but actually, I was really just so excited to meet her.
"Apart from my wedding, it was honestly the best day of my life," she smiles.
Sienna was born in May, in the thralls of the global Coronavirus pandemic, but actually, it turned out to work pretty well in Millie's opinion. "I actually think that having a baby was one of the best things that you could have done in lockdown. It's obviously still going on and it's incredibly hard for a lot of people but I feel very lucky that for me, it's the kind of ideal time to have a baby because you've been really forced to stay at home and not able to do as much.
"I think having that time together as a family and having Hugo actually around and not at work has been incredible. He's been on furlough and ordinarily he would have had two weeks off on paternity leave and instead I'll probably have had nearly a year with him here to help. So looking back, it's pretty amazing, really."
And naturally, Millie's husband Hugo is loving his new role. "He's taken to it really well. He's very, very involved with her and she's a real daddy's girl. You can tell already. She has like a special smile just for him. It's pretty sweet."
Having that time together as a family and having Hugo actually around and not at work has been incredible.
With a large presence on social media, Millie was determined to share the reality of her parenting journey, including the discovery that Sienna had Hip Dysplasia.
"It's more common in girls and it's quite common in breech babies, because of the position they're in, in the womb," explains Millie. "And so because of that, when she was born, I was told she needed a routine hip scan to check. Hip Dysplasia is when their hip socket is not fully developed. So rather than being closed around the joint, it's more open. So on one side, her hip could like dislocate. It sounds awful, but it's not actually painful for them because their bones and cartilage are still forming.
"It wasn't noticeable, it wasn't like her leg was like a weird position or anything. So they noticed that when Sienna had the scan, and she had to go into a special harness to correct it from when she was three months old for six weeks.
"It was really upsetting," Millie admits. "And so we left the hospital with her in a harness. It was hard to get used to it, but she adapted really well. And we found that even after a week or two weeks, she kind of got used to it and it worked after six weeks. The NHS were amazing. We had weekly appointments and she'll have scans roughly every six months until she's about three years old."
Millie documented Sienna's experience and treatment through Instagram, something she says proved a huge help. "I found posting about it really helpful because I didn't know much about it, and the harness and the treatment. I had so many people saying 'this worked for us.' People were sending me picture messages that were making me cry, honestly, so many people reached out. It's one of those moments when you really realise that social media can be such a positive place to connect with people. I've been sharing more in a kind of very open, honest way since I was pregnant, and then just kind of continued it. I really enjoy connecting with other mums, it feels like such a community. It's really nice," Millie says. But sadly, that's not always the case.
"There are definitely some mum police out there that really will jump on you and criticise anything you do. You can't please everybody," Millie says. "I really just try and take a deep breath, put my phone down or go for a walk if it's really got to me, but I think you just have to rise above it. There are a lot of bullies out there but mostly it's very positive. And I try to just focus on that because it's so easy to just let one out of 100 comments, stick with you and upset you."
You can't please everybody.
Like many new mums, a lot has changed for Millie, including the changes to her body during pregnancy and beyond.
"I think a lot of my identity has always been in how I look and how I feel in my body and having it change beyond recognition - it was a shock. I found it particularly hard after I'd had the baby and actually adjusting took a while. It was hard not to be critical of myself, even though I knew my body created a life. And I really reminded myself that when I found it hard to see those changes in the mirror. And I think that's completely natural," Millie says. But she's determined to be positive about her new body.
"I love looking at pictures of when I was pregnant and just being like, wow, my stomach was huge! And just knowing that Sienna was in there. And I'm so in awe of my body now I definitely have a lot more respect for it. And yeah, it does look different! I'm six and a half months down the line. I'm still nearly a stone heavier than when I got pregnant. But I love my body. I look at it and I do just think yeah, you are pretty damn amazing!"
Millie is excited to be working with Boots on their new campaign, Parent Your Way. "I have shopped at Boots for as long as I can remember so it felt like a really natural partnership for me. Especially since becoming a mum, Boots is my go-to for so many things not just for me, but for Sienna as well," she gushes.
"I'm so excited that Boots are going to be rolling out these baby zones just to make everything easier. And as a new parent, there's a lot to learn and there's a lot to remember - it's all very new, and that can be quite overwhelming. So anything that makes your life easier is a big bonus. And for me, being able to shop for all the baby products I need under one roof along with amazing professional pharmacists advice if you've got any worries about your baby's health, it's really great."
But what are her favourite products available at Boots? "One of my favourites is The My Little Coco shampoo, which I just love as I have always loved that coconut smell. It's just such a happy smell. I love using that on Sienna at bath time. Getting as much sleep for me is really important and they do a lovely pillow spray from This Works. And that's really gorgeous as well," Millie says. "They do these really great weaning bowls and little spoons which are just the perfect size. I've tried a lot of different spoons but the bowls I've got from Boots are a great size when I'm feeding Sienna - they're really handy."
Millie Mackintosh's favourite baby buys