Pop star turned TV presenter Kimberley Walsh is relishing being a mum to Bobby, but as she exclusively told M&B, she’s had her fair share of challenges...
Kimberley Walsh shot to fame in 2002 as one fifth of Girls Aloud. Alongside her band mates, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Sarah Harding, Nadine Coyle and Nicola Roberts, she became part of Britain’s biggest girl group since the Spice Girls.
Since the band broke up, Kimberley has moved into TV presenting. In 2012 she made her West End debut in Shrek: The Musical and the same year took part in BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
The 33-year-old star has been dating former boy band star Justin Scott for ten years and she had a baby boy, Bobby Jay, in September last year. The couple got engaged two months later.
With several new projects lined up, Kimberley tells us about Bobby’s traumatic birth and how she’s juggling being a mum with her work…
Did you plan to have Bobby when you did?
Justin and I have been together for over ten years and it felt like the right time. I did fall pregnant really quickly. I am 33 and consider myself very lucky because you never know how long it’s going to take to conceive or if we could ever conceive. It was wonderful having such a text-book pregnancy.
What was your birth experience like?
My contractions started very slowly the day before my due date and when I got to hospital the midwife confirmed I was in labour, but I was not dilating that quickly. The midwife then inserted a gel containing prostaglandin to bring on the labour a bit more. The gel worked and my waters broke. It did go wrong at the last minute though because Bobby turned, making it virtually impossible to push him out.
How did you eventually get Bobby out?
In the end, I did push him out but the doctors had to get forceps to move his head down and when he came out his face was looking up at us.
“I wasn’t going to try and be a saint, which is why I opted for an epidural before he was born”
I wasn’t going to try and be a saint, which is why I opted for an epidural before he was born. I was offered it immediately but I wanted to have some sort of labour experience, so got as far as I could before I took it.
Do you regret having an epidural?
It would have been absolutely horrific without one and the labour pains would have been on a different scale. The epidural took the edge off.
>> Everything you need to know about epidurals
Were you petrified that something would go wrong?
I was very scared and I am glad Justin was at my side. He stayed very calm and was really encouraging and spurred me on to push. If I had panicked, I would have ended up with a C-section because I needed to focus on pushing him out and it was very touch and go.
I didn’t want to have a forceps delivery but I would still rather have had the forceps than a C-section.
What was the recovery period like for you after the birth?
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but I was badly bruised from having a forceps delivery and I was cut so I had to have lots of stitches. But holding Bobby in my arms took my mind off any pain. It took four weeks to recover.
Did you worry about suffering from post-natal depression?
Thankfully I didn’t have any signs of depression. I was warned about the baby blues and I felt very emotional a few days after the birth. I couldn’t look at Bobby without crying.
How important was it for you to breastfeed Bobby?
I wanted to succeed at it, so when I found it hard, it was the toughest thing. Bobby couldn’t latch onto my boob, which I found very distressing and the midwives kept saying there was no reason for him not to be able to do it. So every few hours we were syringing milk into his mouth to give him all the colostrum.
>> Are you stuggling to breastfeed? Here are our solutions
Did it get any easier?
It eventually turned out that he was tongue-tied and so they snipped a bit of his tongue. That really helped but by then it was still hard for him to learn because it was new to him. But I didn’t want to give up and I didn’t want to give him a bottle in case he didn’t want to go back on the breast. It got harder and so I got a lactation specialist to help.
Did you feel guilty when the breastfeeding wasn’t working?
Yes, there were definitely times when the midwives were trying to help me and I got really upset. A few weeks later when Bobby was feeding normally I remember thinking, “I can’t believe I went through that pain.” I fed him until he was six months old in the end.
Did you worry about rushing back to work too soon?
I went back to work properly after about five months and for me I think it was right. It was hard when I first went back (as guest style commentator on This Morning). I wanted to do just one day a week and I felt that it would be good to keep my hand in at work.
Bobby was not sleeping through at the time so I had terrible bags under my eyes. They were tough days but it got easier and easier. I took Bobby with me at the very start or left him with my mum.
How much weight did you put on during your pregnancy?
I put on about three stone. Bobby was about 8lbs 3oz when he was born so he was a big baby. The first stone that came off was all Bobby and water. Then the next stone came off gradually through breastfeeding. The last bit now requires hard work.
Do you feel there has been any pressure to snap back into shape?
I know that I don’t look like myself but I have just had a baby. I don’t think it’s a negative thing because sometimes it’s good for other women to see that not everybody just snaps back straight away.
“It’s good for other women to see that not everybody just snaps back straight away”
I think I am a positive role model to other women who might find comfort in the fact that I did not spring back into shape.
What has been the most challenging aspect of motherhood?
Probably the breastfeeding and making sure that I get the right balance with work and looking after Bobby. With a good balance, hopefully everyone is happy. At the moment I might do a shoot one day a week. If I do more than that it does feel as though I’m doing too much.
Later on in the year I am going to be back in the West End starring in Elf: The Musical so I want to enjoy Bobby as much as I can before that all kicks off.
Do you have a nanny to help you look after Bobby?
I don’t. I have my mum and Justin – and luckily for me he is very hands on.
Would you like to have another baby?
I would love another one – but not yet!
Has having a forceps delivery put you off having more children?
It will be unlikely that the second baby will turn at the last minute like Bobby did. I would love for labour and birth to happen without assistance and get that real feeling of achievement.
How has being a mum changed you?
It definitely changes your whole perspective on life. I don’t feel like a different person at all and I still feel like me. But I live my life a lot more for Bobby. He is my priority.