Blended families and pregnancy over 40 - Anna Whitehouse is breaking the stigma surrounding so many societal expectations

Mother Pukka is expecting baby number three

Anna Whitehouse
(Image credit: Sipa US/Alamy)

Anna Whitehouse, AKA Mother Pukka, is smashing down stigma and the expectations society places on women - we explain why her baby announcement is so important. 

Anna Whitehouse is doing important things for mums everywhere - we have her to thank for the Flexible Working Bill achieved through years of campaigning, and now she's paving the way for important conversations around blended families and parenting with a new partner, and pregnancy over the age of 40. 

Having announced a divorce, engagement and pregnancy with her third baby in quick succession, the Mother Pukka star came under scrutiny for her choices. But we think she needs to be applauded for breaking stigmas and blazing her own trail rather than behaving in ways society dictates she should be - which are outdated and misogynistic. 

Anna was forced to quit her job after the birth of her first baby when her flexible working request was denied - all she wanted was to start and finish work a mere 15 minutes earlier to make nursery pickup. Unsurprisingly distressed to find herself unable to work over something so trivial and join the thousands of other women penalised for simply giving birth, she set up Flex Appeal – a campaign to push for flexible working. 

After eight years of hard work, the Flexible Working Bill was introduced. While campaigning for this and growing a huge following online, Anna shared her own story of miscarriage and navigating the grief and loss that comes with this, prompting many to share their own stories of fertility struggles and grief. 

Often appearing online with husband, Matt, it came came as a shock to Anna's supporters in September last year, when she announced the couple were getting divorced - she even did this in the most incredible way. Writing on her Instagram page, Anna explained "I don’t think this can be classed as conscious uncoupling. More ‘kindly untangling’. I’m so proud of us."

She added "It would be natural to say 'sadly getting divorced,' but that's not really the truth. That's perhaps how society conditions us to see relationships that don't work out for very human reasons. We spent our last night together drinking cheap vodka and laughing at banal arguments over soft furnishings." What a way to look at a chapter of your life that's come to an end.

The separated couple then managed to smash co-parenting. They took on ‘magpie parenting’ otherwise known as nest parenting. Their two girls stayed in the family home while Anna and Matt lived elsewhere, each spending different parts of the week in the main home with the kids. 

In May this year Anna announced her engagement to new partner, Olly Bretton, and on June 27, announced she was pregnant with her third baby - the first with Olly. Anna has now spoken about wanting to reframe so-called 'geriatric' pregnancy (which needs another name), and living happily in a blended family. 

Speaking to Grazia, Anna said "I hope that sharing my experiences will help to reduce the stigma around blended families. There’s this belief that, because your family is blended, it’s somehow ‘less than’ or not enough. I’m a huge advocate for marriage and making things work, but I want to challenge the notion that couples should stay together for their children, because that’s really flawed." 

On pregnancy at 42, she adds "While I’m so excited about adding a new addition to our family, being pregnant at 42 comes with a lot of challenges. I’ve been so sick, and I’m already worried about the sleepless nights. I hate that I'm a geriatric pregnant woman, because there’s a lot of judgement that comes with that. Also a lot of scaremongering. 

"Having gone through miscarriages in the past, I know that feeling of loss so inherently and I’ve already been having dreams about being separated from this baby. As I said, I won’t be celebrating at all until the baby has been born safely. But I also feel incredibly privileged to be in this position, as I didn’t think I ever would be."

For more on flexible working and what still needs to be done, there are still disparities in requesting flexible working - and mums are disproportionately affected, then legally gagged from talking about workplace discrimination. Childcare costs are also an issue, with many working parents trapped into living near grandparents to manage.

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.