Mel C: ‘Being a mum gave me a fresh start’

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  • Mel C, 37, is a proud mum to her 2-year-old daughter Scarlet. In our exclusive chat with the former Spice Girl we talk pregnancy, motherhood, keeping Scarlet entertained and getting back into music.

    How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?

    ‘Gosh I was very excited, and terrified. It was a planned pregnancy luckily and I’d been hoping to become a mum – it’d been something I’d really wanted to happen for a couple of years. We’d been talking about it and we were really excited to start trying so I was lucky to get pregnant really quickly because you just don’t know when you first start trying, do you?’

    Were you at all worried about motherhood?

    ‘Yeah, I was worried about so many things! I think like all pregnant mums, you worry about the health of your baby and you worry about the birth and then you worry about taking care of the child and how it’s going to change your life, so I think there are so many emotions involved but a lot of them are quite fearful ones.’

    What about the actual pregnancy, did you have any morning sickness?

    ‘I had a really good pregnancy, I was really lucky and I enjoyed it. I was absolutely exhausted in the first 3 months but I wasn’t even really showing. It’s not like you’re carrying a lot of weight it’s just in those early stages your body’s changing. I was lucky I didn’t have any morning sickness but I felt nauseous at times so once that 12 weeks had passed I was quite happy to be into the next phase and then I really started enjoying it.’

    Did you have any cravings?

    ‘Well because in those first few weeks I had a little bit of nausea, I had a horrible taste in my mouth so I always wanted fruity boiled sweets and I craved grapefruit. I always wanted something which was quite refreshing and I remember eating a lot of crisps but I don’t know whether that was just because I was going ‘I’m pregnant, I can eat crisps!’ But yeah, I just really enjoyed food actually, it was really nice thinking ‘I’m growing a little person inside me, I need to have plenty of food’.

    Did you know the sex or did you want it to be a surprise?

    ‘I wanted it to be a surprise so I didn’t find out. It’s funny because I don’t think you know what you want until it happens and I was quite surprised that I really didn’t want to know. I was convinced I was having a boy, I don’t know why.’

    Did you worry at all about putting on weight? Did you exercise during the pregnancy?

    ‘Well I was still going to the gym when I was pregnant but I found I just really did less and less as the time went on – I just tried to be sensible really and just go with how I felt physically. I was really excited to start showing and it was really funny because at the beginning of the pregnancy when I had the tiniest little bump I thought it was really impressive and I was really proud of it and then towards the end I was absolutely enormous and I thought I looked quite good.’

    How was the actual birth? Was it a long labour?

    ‘It was unfortunate really because I really wanted to do my best to try and have a natural birth but Scarlet’s head never engaged and I never went into labour. I was 10 days overdue so I was induced and it was all a bit traumatic. It was quite painful but I went all the way to 10cm and I pushed but unfortunately I just couldn’t get her out so I had to have an emergency caesarean. So I felt like I’d kind of done both ways.’

     How was the first year? Was it full of teething and sleepless nights?

    ‘I don’t think anything can prepare you, you can read all the books, you can speak to all your friends who have children, your parents and everybody and not until it happens do you really realise the enormity of it all. Something I’ll never forget was when we came home from the hospital and she was asleep in the car seat on the floor in the living room and I just looked straight at her and I just thought ‘What do I do with her now?’ That was quite daunting.

    ‘My mum was around quite a lot but at times it was really tough – I found it hard to get her into a routine and really struggled with that up to the point where I actually gave up because I was getting so frustrated. But, I think it’s really true the older your baby gets the easier it is. There’s always a new challenge ahead but there’s nothing as difficult as those first 6 months, it’s really tough and I think it’s tough psychologically as well because even though you know it’s coming and you’ve had 9 months to prepare, it takes a long time for your head to actually accept that this is life now and it took me a long time to really get to grips with that.’

    Did you breastfeed?

    ‘I did, I was lucky actually that she was brilliant, she latched on straight away when she was bought to me in the recovery room and yeah I nursed her until she was 7 months old, until I went back to work.’

    She’s 2 and 1/2 now – what kind of things to you do with her for fun?

    ‘We go to the cinema, which is quite a new thing and a lot of fun. The first time I took her she was sat there with her popcorn on her knee shovelling it in just like she’d done it a million times before, so that was lovely. We go to the park, we like playing in the sandpit, we do a bit of shopping, she likes to go for coffee, she’ll often ask me if we can go for a coffee, she has a baby-cino of course.’

    How did you cope with work? Did you take an extended time off and then gradually get back into it?

    ‘I really slowed down as I was getting more and more pregnant, I just did the odd thing here and there. I did do a charity performance in the January when I was eight months pregnant that was quite good fun and then I spent the first 6 months after giving birth at home before the opportunity came up to work in Blood Brothers on the West End. She was 7 months when I went into rehearsals – it was 2 and a half weeks of rehearsals and then 8 shows a week for 6 months. But you have all day at home, so you’re tired but it was a good thing for me to do, it got me back into the swing of things.’

    How has motherhood changed you?

    ‘I had a great pregnancy I was really lucky. We had a tricky birth and the first few months of course, they’re very difficult for everybody but just the feeling that I get from being a mum and from being with my little girl is great. I feel much more confident and I feel very courageous I think because I want to make her proud of me. Some of the things that I might have been too scared of doing before I do now, like working in the West End or more recently I did a triathlon. I just feel like I want to achieve things and make her proud.’

    You have battled with an eating disorder before – is that now completely in the past?

    ‘Absolutely, you never know what your future holds but for me, I feel like when I did have my problems with the eating disorder and depression it was very much a reaction to how my life was then, my time with the Spice Girls. It was an extraordinary situation and I’d not really been taking care of myself and it was a little bit of a reaction to things and gradually over time I recovered from that but I think when you’re pregnant or when you have a child you become aware that these things can return. But I was really lucky that nothing came up and just having her made me feel like I had a fresh start, it was like a clean slate for me, a new beginning.’

    Do you see the Spice Girls much, does Scarlet see Emma’s (Bunton) children?

    ‘We actually celebrated Beau‘s birthday a couple of weeks ago – we do try and get together whenever we can. You know what it’s like with friends, everyone’s always busy but the children have brought us closer together. It’s lovely to go to each other’s parties and whenever Melanie and Victoria are over from LA we try and get together so the children grow up knowing and spending time with each other.’

    Do you have tips for things you do with Scarlet to keep her happy?

    ‘Scarlet loves her painting and I recently bought some face paints but I’m useless, they go to lots of parties and they have these fabulous face painters that do fantastic animals on their faces but I find what Scarlet actually likes is just covering me in paint. So I think you’ve just got to be prepared to get a bit messy! We also love baking, but I think the simplest thing to do really making little rice crispy cakes – just melt down the chocolate in the microwave and chuck them in. We have a lot of fun making cakes.’

    You’ve got a new album on the way, had you always wanted to do another?

    ‘I always hoped I would make another record but I think when I was pregnant I just never knew how I was going to feel. When I was working in the theatre I had an incredible time but I also really missed my music and being myself on stage so it was when I finished in the theatre that I started writing this album and it’s been just over a year in the making. I think because so much has happened in-between my last album and this one, it made it really strong. There’s lots of new collaborators and I’m very excited – it feels quite special this album.’

    Where did you get the inspiration for some of the songs?

    ‘All over the place really – a song like Weak is really about that feeling when you split up with somebody and you just feel like you’re never ever going to get over it. I think everyone can identify with that. Obviously it’s not in my current life that that’s happening but I’ve had my heart broken many times so it was really nice to express those feelings. A song like Think About It is more of a cheeky lyric and it’s about doing things you shouldn’t be doing and I think especially when you’re a mum and you’ve got lots of responsibility it’s quite nice to have a bit more of a fantasy when you’re writing a song.’

    When is the first single out?

    ‘The first track is Think About It and that’s out on the 5th September.’

    Do you have a tour planned?

    ‘Yeah, we’re working on it at the moment; we’re looking at doing a couple of small dates before Christmas and then an extensive tour in the New Year. We’re thinking of doing a bigger show than I’ve done with previous records so it’s all very exciting.’

    Mel’s album is called The Sea and will be out on the 5th September.

    Where to next?

    – See more celeb mums in our A-Z guide

    – Who’s pregnant or just given birth? Find out in our pregnant celebs gallery

    – Find out what the celebs have called their children in our baby names gallery