Chloe Madeley, personal trainer, TV personality and wife of rugby star James Haskell opens up to The Edit about her pregnancy journey. From struggling to conceive, to what she’s most looking forward to – and most nervous for – when becoming a mum.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! How are you feeling about becoming a mum?
Thank you! How I feel about becoming a mum is complicated – it always has been. I think women get lumped into these black and white categories when it comes to motherhood and their life choices: She’s so maternal, she’s desperate to have kids. She’s a career woman, she’s too selfish to have kids. She can’t have kids. She’s a stay-at-home mum.
But like everything in life, it’s so much more complicated than that, and is often a mix of several of the above. For a long time, I didn’t know if I wanted kids. Then when I realised I might not be able to, I wanted my options back! Now I’m pregnant, I constantly flit between “I’m so unbelievably happy this is happening”’ and “Oh my god, have I ruined my life?!” Women and motherhood isn’t always as visceral as others presume, it is, like most things in life, complicated.
Is there anything that’s making you nervous?
I’m weirdly not nervous about the birth at all. Anyone who’s had kids will tell you that you have to come up with some semblance of a birth plan, so you do, but they’ll also tell you that all plans quickly go out the window! I actually find that comforting, because whatever will be will be.
I’m nervous about the life shift after the birth for sure. I’ve spent 11 years building a career and a lifestyle that I don’t want to lose, so that’s definitely been playing on my mind a lot.
But I am extremely excited to meet my little girl, too.
Is James excited to be a dad?
Yes! Finally! It’s taken him eight months to get his head around it, ha! But he’s finally there and is super excited now. He’ll be an incredible dad and I am really excited to watch him in that role.
You’ve spoken previously about your struggles to conceive, what would you say to others on similar journeys?
I was very lucky in that for me, while it wasn’t quick or easy, it was also a case of patience and perseverance.
After 2 years it finally happened, I think largely because instead of continuing to time it around ovulation etc, we just decided to treat every day like I was ovulating! After a few months, that seemed to do the trick.
I would say seek out specialist help and advice and try to remain as pragmatic about it all as humanly possible, swinging from branch to branch like Tarzan. Because you need to remember that emotional stress has a huge hormonal impact on the body, which will absolutely play with your cycle and consequently, your fertility. Easier said than done, I know, but try.
You’re now in your third trimester – how’ve you found the different stages of pregnancy?
Completely different! The first trimester was so hard on my body hormonally, I was so sick and had such bad migraines, honestly it was just about getting through it without having a meltdown every day!
In my second trimester I really tried to embrace being pregnant and fall in love with it, which I managed to do – it was definitely, as everyone says, the honeymoon period of my pregnancy!
The third trimester has probably been the toughest yet, for several reasons. Physically, it’s just so uncomfortable and at points, just point blank unmanageable! Psychologically, I definitely went into a weird head space of feeling very alone and very vulnerable, which I seem to have come out of now, thank goodness. And finally, it’s just gone SO quickly, I feel like I’m on a runaway train compared to the first two!
You’re a qualified fitness coach, personal trainer and nutritionist. How have you adapted your own exercise regime and diet during your pregnancy?
In terms of training frequency, I’ve reduced it from 5-6 days a week to 2-3 days a week, simply because there are more days in the week that I feel physically fatigued now.
The intensity of my training also had to come down a notch by the end of my second trimester when my respiratory system became more taxed, so I probably train at about 50% of my usual effort now.
And finally, I had to cut all abdominal work because of round ligament pain in the first two trimesters, and in the third because of the general size of me! But it’s fair to say a lot of women carry on with all the above without any problems at all.
In terms of nutrition, I’ve just tried to eat as healthily as possible (failing miserably 50% of the time!) and really focus on my iron intake, as I developed iron deficiency anaemia in my second trimester, so lots of red meat, kidney beans, greens, dried apricots and nuts!
We’re all about body confidence on The Edit – do you feel there’s too much pressure on women to “bounce back” after pregnancy?
Absolutely. I’ve had to have words with my post-natal clients more than once and remind them that the ‘6-week all clear’ is not a green light to jump back into weightlifting, high energy workout classes or HIIT training.
It’s so important that if you have body goals (which is perfectly valid and does not make you a bad or shallow woman whatsoever), you take your time to heal your core, including your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor before you jump back into real training.
And this doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and patience.
What are your pregnancy essentials?
My pregnancy pillow, the two huge fans in my room keeping the hot air at bay, my Jo Malone moisturiser, my Bio Oil and a good night’s sleep!