Singer Michelle Heaton is currently touring with Liberty X as part of the Big Reunion. She recently had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of breast cancer and is mum to Faith, now 16 months. She talks to us about finding her feet as a mother, her hopes for another baby, and her road to recovery from major surgery...
You're touring the country with Liberty X. How are you finding life on the road without Faith?
It's a lot of fun, but I miss Faith so much! Most of the others on the tour are mums, so we are a great support to each other. I love working, so I'm getting stuck in and keeping busy. I have a day off coming up and I'm so excited to see Faith and Hugh (Michelle's fitness instructor husband).
Faith took her first steps just before I left for the tour, but Hugh said she hasn't really taken many more and is a little wobbly. I like to think she's saving it to show off to her mum!
You had a C-section with Faith. Tell us about your experience.
I was planning a natural water birth, and had been taking HypnoBirthing classes which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately I was told three weeks before my due date that I needed to have a C-section because of my heart (Michelle has an irregular heartbeat and is awaiting further surgery). I had very mixed emotions about the decision.
I was gutted not be able to have a natural birth, and was frustrated I couldn't take control, but at the same time I felt strangely calm about it. The decision had been taken out of my hands, so I knew what to expect. Being a first time mum, I had no idea what birth would be like. Suddenly everything was planned and some of the worry was taken away.
I was all booked in for my due date, but Faith had other ideas - I went into labour seven days before my booked C-section. My waters broke at home, but when I got to hospital I was told I needed to wait for the cardiologist to arrive before the operation. The idea was that I held on for him to arrive! Luckily it worked out, and everything was very calm. I was kept informed about what was happening, so I didn't feel panicked.
There's an assumption that if a celeb has a C-section she's too posh to push. Did you get this reaction from the public?
A little, which is ridiculous. I was very open on Twitter about the birth I had planned, and had been keeping my followers informed about my HypnoBirthing classes, so my fans knew when the situation changed and why.
Twitter is a very funny thing. You get so much love, support and positivity, but then one negative comment can really bother you. I try really hard not to rise to it - which can be hard as I can be a little bit on the feisty side! The majority of negative comments come from people who are not educated on my life, so their opinion doesn't matter.
How did you find the early days after Faith's birth?
I found the immediate weeks difficult. My C-section meant I couldn't do a lot of things. Trying to feed Faith and do things around the house was hard. If you push yourself too hard and too soon your scar will open. I'm a very active person and was frustrated that I wasn't able to get up and do things like normal.
What about your scar and post-baby body?It took about six weeks before I felt more like myself again. I wouldn't say 'normal', but I certainly felt better in myself and with my body. I have no feeling around my scar area at all, but the scar is prominent. I want it to go so it looks like my skin again. I'm using Kelo-cote gel to help reduce it and the redness is going. I'm really seeing results, which is want I want. It's a reminder of Faith's birth, but I don't need it.
I have my beautiful daughter; I don't want a scar when I have her.
I put on three stone during my pregnancy, and I'm really not a naturally slim girl, so I've had to work at it. I ate sensibly after Faith's birth and exercise to keep fit. Of course having a fitness expert husband helps - everyone should have one!
You had a double mastectomy in November as you carry the mutated BRCA2 gene, giving you a greater risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Do you have any regrets about your operation?
It was a hugely traumatic time, but I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to help reduce the risk. Having my breasts removed wasn't an easy decision. I hadn't had surgery on them before, and they were all mine. However I knew it was the right decision, and it had to be done. I'm quite pragmatic in life, if something needs to happen, it happens.
How did you feel about getting implants?I had breast implants fitted on the same day as my mastectomy. I didn't want to look like I'd had a boob job, I wanted them to look like mine. They appear bigger because they are so firm, but they are the same size as before the op.
They still feel very alien to me. They look great, but I don't have any feeling in them, and I don't like Hugh to touch them as I just don't see them as my breasts.
The scarring on the bottom of my breasts is still bad.The scars sort of 'pops' out of the bottom of bikinis, and they were very red and raised for a long time, but the gel is really helping.
It will take time, and I have been chopped up more times than something in a butcher's shop recently, but I know deep down I know everything I have done is for the best.
Does Faith also have an increased risk of breast cancer?
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