Celebrity mum Mel C talks parenting
Former Spice Girl and renowned solo artist Melanie C speaks to Bernice Mulligan about promoting the Pampers Big Kiss Campaign, her music plans and what it's like being a mum on charity work, pregnancy and babies.
IT'S a dull Monday morning and I'm on the phone to Melanie Chisholm ( aka Mel C) one fifth of the most successful girl band ever and and I can't help feeling a teeny bit nervous. After all, what do you ask someone who has informed your cultural world for over a decade? ' Do you still have your tracksuit from the Wannabee video?', ' Does Victoria ever smile?' or ' On a scale of one to 10 how scary is Mel B?' But it is not the Spice Girls we are due to talk about today, it is Melanie's involvement with the Pampers Big Kiss campaign, which aims to provide free tetanus vaccinations for women in some of the poorest countries in the world.
" I was really inspired to get involved with all this through being part of the Pampers parenting panel, and also having my own little girl, Scarlet. I was aware of the great work Pampers did with UNICEF and I suppose when you become a mum, anything to do with children really pulls at your heartstrings."
Mel C follows in the footsteps of other uber celebrities such as Salma Hayek and Natascha McElhone who have also fronted Pampers campaigns to stamp out tetanus: an entirely preventable disease that kills around 60,000 newborns each year.
As she eluded to, Melanie gave birth to a baby girl in February of last year, the final Spice Girl to enter ' Mommysville'. Her partner is property developer Thomas Starr who she has been in a relationship with since 2002.
For her, her incredible success in her career has nothing on being a mum, but she does admit you can't prepare yourself for how much things are going to alter.
" I think it's the biggest life change. You try to prepare yourself; your friends and family try to prepare you, but nobody can and it's just the most amazing thing. And I have to say, despite all the wonderful things I've been able to do in my life, they pale in comparison to having my little girl."
But what of her mega-star former band mates: Emma Bunting, Victoria Beckham, Mel B and Geri Halliwell – have they been supportive?
" It was really lovely having all the girls, and to be honest it was a great inspiration seeing them combine being great mums with having successful careers."
Certainly Melanie herself doesn't seem to have shied away from her career since having Scarlet: just recently she won critical acclaim for her role in the play Blood Brothers, and she is also working on her music.
" Career wise, music is always going to be my No 1 passion. I've been working on writing and recording a new pop record so I'm hoping that will be ready by next summer. And I will be starring in Blood Brothers again in November for two weeks. It's running in Liverpool, which is where the play is set, so I'm really excited about that."
With this hectic schedule, isn't she entirely exhausted? " To be honest I'm actually at my most tired when I'm looking solely after Scarlet; when I'm at work that's almost a break! I'm so lucky that I really enjoy my work, so when I get back home I'm really excited to see her, and I've got so much more enthusiasm to hang out with her and to play with her. I think when you're at home full time, which I was for the first seven months with Scarlet, you're always doing things so you don't always have the energy to do fun stuff with her."
Recent snaps of Melanie with her baby show a striking resemblance between the two, so would she be happy if Scarlet also showed an interest in going into the music industry?
" I think I would be like my own mum, and would just want her to be happy. Having said that I know I would be concerned because it's a very difficult industry to be in. But if she showed a talent and it made her happy and she wanted to follow her dreams, I would never stand in her way."
Speaking of photos, having seen recent images of Melanie looking extremely youthful and svelte, I can't help asking her what her beauty secrets are and if, after all the spotlight on her fluctuating weight over the past 10 years, she was okay with gaining weight while pregnant.
" I think I was lucky – pregnancy was a really healthy thing for me in terms of my body image," she says. " I was really excited about my growing bump, and I ate lots of great, healthy food. And of course my priority was having a healthy child so weight wasn't really something I thought of too much when I was pregnant. I mean I did have some concerns: I wondered how my body would look after pregnancy, but when it came down to it I decided I wanted to do it [ lose the weight] naturally. The thing is you're so busy with your child, and you tend to put yourself last on the list. But luckily the weight just came off slowly, and then when I went back to work, the final bit of baby weight came off."
And, after all this intense baby talk, I finally ask Melanie the pressing question: can she still do a backflip?
" I haven't done one since I got pregnant, but I intend to get back into it." She pauses, and I can almost see the smile forming on her face. " After all, I totally intend to be a back-flipping grandmother!"
Send a virtual kiss as part of the Pampers Big Kiss Campaign and Pampers will donate the cost for one vaccine against maternal and children's tetanus to UNICEF. To send your kiss, go to http://www. pampers. ie/ bigkiss
Mother & Babies