Mother and Baby

Giovanna Fletcher on cruel mum-shamers, breastfeeding struggles and why she's having more 'me-time' in 2020

Section: Celebrity Mums

Giovanna Fletcher knows a thing or two about motherhood.

She has spoken bravely about her Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POCS) diagnosis, fertility struggles, and miscarriage at six weeks. 

"I was crushed, angry and hurting" she later confided in a heartfelt Instagram post. 

That's not to say there haven't been plenty of good times too, the author is a proud mum to Buzz, Buddy and Max who she shares with her childhood sweetheart, Tom Fletcher. 

She hosts the well-loved "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" podcast (very much our ethos) and has documented her mum highs and lows to her 1.3 million followers. who can't get enough of her relatable, frank and non-preachy parenting style.

We were very excited to sit down with Gi to talk about her new book, mum-shaming and the anxiety she feels as her children inevitably grow older... 

M&B: We're very excited to read your new book Letters on Motherhood. Where did the idea come from?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Giovanna Fletcher (@mrsgifletcher) on

GF: So when I was pregnant first time with Buzz, I started writing letters every night before I went to bed. It was a really nice way of checking what was going on with my bump and my pregnancy.

Talking about things like who we told, what symptoms I was having, if we had scans, what we were just doing in general life.

It just became something we did every pregnancy. I loved writing in that space, so I just thought, 'what can I do that's a bit different?' 

I wanted to talk about all the themes of being in a mum, in a slightly different format and then the letters format idea popped up. It makes it really accessible to write and read.

Sometimes, as a mum, you have thoughts that are like nuggets and you have to just get them down. It's a bit like therapy, getting it out.

It's really weird. From relationships to your own body and processing your thoughts for the future and dreams for your kids, it's been great to write!

M&B: You also touched on topics like mum-guilt, right? 

GF: Oh yes, we also touched on mum-guilt, death, we touch on love, the feeling that one day the kids will grow up and we won't be their family, in that sense.

When they draw a family picture now, we are in it, but then, when their kids draw a picture, we won't necessarily be in it. 

I write letters to my phone, my body... my foof! To Tom, to my own parents, there are a lot of topics covered and that's why I loved writing in this format. 

M&B: Is there an essay, in particular, that was harder to write or meant especially a lot to you? 

GF: I had one night, where I was lying down with Buzz and I felt like he was looking after me like he was cradling me.

And I said, 'oh Buzz, one day you'll be a big man and I'll be a little old lady and this is how you'll hold me". 

He burst out crying and I asked what was wrong and he said, "I don't want you to be a little old lady." 

I was like, "why?" And he said, "because I don't want you to die". 

I then suddenly realised that every person he knows who has died up until this point has been older. 

So we ended up having this conversation, where I was like "I am going to die, we're all going to die, I can't promise you that I'm not."

It was a weird thing, I was so unprepared. I had to write about it afterward. That's what conversations with kids are like, they happen on their terms, 

You can't prepare for it, you just have to kind of go along with their thoughts and things will pop up.

I found that hard because as a parent you want to tell your kids everything is okay and everything will be okay forever. But we know they'll get hurt, there will be deaths in their life and there will be heartache.

There is nothing we can do about it, we just have to give them the tools to deal with it when they arise. 

M&B: Do you touch on mum-shaming in the book and what are your experiences with it?

GF: One of the letters is called 'To the swimming interrupter', I can't remember what it's called exactly. Basically I take Buddy swimming. He has a meltdown and didn't want to get into the pool.

To cut a long story short, this woman came over and started interfering. She was talking to Buddy, which was fine. He was still upset, but she turned to me and just basically said, "you see, I'm a much more experienced mother."

So that is mum-shaming. Buddy didn't listen to her anyway and I left and I basically cried for the whole day.

I do talk about mum-shaming because it could have been so different, It could have been words of encouragement, it could have been "I've been there".

There are always going to be situations that arise where something happens and it makes you question things, like "does this mean she thinks I'm a bad mum?"

M&B: If it did happen again, what's your advice for dealing with it?

GF: I think just moving on from it. I don't know what was happening in that for that woman. You've got to compartmentalise it and just kind of go, "okay, that's you" and I can't let it affect the rest of my day or how I mother. 

Motherhood is all about focusing on you and your family. When you look outside, it can get a bit murky.

M&B: We agree! What's your relationship with mum guilt? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Giovanna Fletcher (@mrsgifletcher) on

GF: I think mum guilt is there from day dot! Literally from the day you fall pregnant, you're like, "oh my god, I had that glass of wine!' 

I think mum guilt will always be there and something that I struggle with. I think, being a mum always means second-guessing everything that you do. Even though you know that you're doing everything for your child's best interest. You have to give yourself a pat on the back for everything you're doing right. 

This year is the first where I've started realising I have to do stuff for me. Even though I love family-time, me-time and family-time are separate. So whether that's a 30-minute run or you know, that's fine and I'm allowed to do it. 

M&B: Of course, parenting advice normally sucks. But has there been any advice given to you that's really helped? 

GF: Emma Willis, when I was feeding Buzz and having a real struggle. I was on the phone to her crying and she said to me, "Gi, you can stop if you want to. There is no one forcing you to do this. Happy mum, happy baby, if you're not happy, that's the more important thing, because that will feed into the child."

From that moment on, actually, something clicked. It was a choice and that completely changed my relationship with breastfeeding and I carried on.

M&B: They say being a mum is the equivalent to 2.5 jobs and you have dozens of projects on the go - how do you relax?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Giovanna Fletcher (@mrsgifletcher) on

GF: This is something I've really started to think about this year. I run and it doesn't matter how cloudy I am beforehand, I can go out with what I've got on.

When I get back, even though nothing has changed, things feel a lot clearer in my head, like the fog has lifted a bit. 

If Bryony  had never asked me I don't think I'd have ever run. 

I thought that running, or any exercise really, was purely physical but running with Bryony just taught me that it's all about mental impact. 

I went through a phase last year where that I could literally tell if I hadn't been for a run, I was getting a little narky! 

I just think I'm a better mum and a better wife, a better person when I've been out and just let it go.

M&B: You've been working with Danone on their new yogurt range which features simple, recognisable ingredients. Why in particular is this important to you?

I think, being a mum especially when you go shopping, you want to be able to look at a packet and know exactly what's in it.

We're all in a rush, we have to get things done quickly and when you look at the list of ingredients, I want to know that I know every single ingredient.

If I don't know what it is, then should I be giving it to my child? Just so it's simple and it's the ease of mind. Just so you know added sugar isn't hidden anywhere!

I think that's super important. I want our kids to enjoy their food and enjoy it for the right reasons. 

Know that if you have good food it gives you the right energy and takes you through the day. 

Giovanna Fletcher is an ambassador for the new Danone yogurt range, which is available in all major retailers nationwide. For more information please visit danoneyogurt.co.uk

You can pre-order Giovanna's book Letters on Motherhood here

 

Alongside her role as the Digital Editor at Mother&Baby, Aimee runs the #mumtribe Facebook group and leads the M&B Awards content strategy.


Winner of Immediate Media Award for 'Magazine Journalist of the Year 2016. Her hobbies include truffle mac and cheese, Class Pass and relentlessly checking (and scolding!) the weather app.

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