TV presenter and Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden talks to us about life with her daughters Lexi, six and a half (apparently she's very particular about the half!), and Hollie, eight months.
How do the girls get on?
They are the best of friends. They just love each other. The other morning I heard Hollie giggling. I went into her room and she was out of her cot and in with Lexi!
Lexi had even changed her - poo filled - nappy! She just adores helping out. Right after Hollie was born, my mum came to stay and had changed Lexi's nappy, and Hollie said 'no nanny, the nappy is on the wrong way around!' and you know what? She was right!
Is Lexi a girlie girl?
Incredibly! She loves pink and purple, and also likes black, but I think that's because she thinks it's grown up. She was never into dolls and prams, but loves her Disney princesses. She plays with our iPad but I'm pleased to say she's not addicted to technology. There are so many products around for kids nowadays, and I know it's a part of life but I'm old fashioned. She loves being outdoors which I'm very pleased about.
You're bringing up two girls, what are your thoughts on things like Toddlers and Tiaras?
I've watched it with Lexi when we've been in America and we find it hilarious! But I see it as entertainment and, rightly or wrongly, don't actually think about the little girls on the show. They just seem to be having a blast. Lexi is so alarmed by the glitter and tan that I know she would never want to be like that, luckily!
How has life changed since your family of three became four with the arrival of Hollie? (Amanda suffered a massive haemorrhage and her heart stopped for 40 seconds after Hollie's birth).
We were the three musketeers and now we're the four. It feels complete and meant to be, and it's like she was never not here and in our life. My children are a joy and bring so much happiness to us all. Hollie makes me, quite literally, grateful to be alive.
You're fronting a campaign with Pampers and UNICEF for the fight against maternal and newborn tetanus (MNT). How can parents help?
For every specially marked pack of Pampers bought, or photo of you and your baby uploaded to the Facebook page
, Pampers will donate the cost of a vaccine to help support UNICEF in the fight against MNT. When I heard about the campaign it was a no brainer for me, I really wanted to get involved.
Knowing that by putting a nappy on your baby, you are saving another somewhere in the world is fantastic.
I had such a blast on the photo shoot with Hollie and the other babies - she was a pro! Straight down the camera. A professional.
What's your favourite thing about being a mum?
I love the girls' imagination, the questions Lexi asks, seeing them grow and laughing with them all the time.
What do you find the most challenging?
Finding the answers to all her tricky questions! I also sometimes find it hard not to snap.
I can tell my husband Chris to bugger off but children take patience.
You returned to the Britain's Got Talent judging panel two weeks after Hollie's dramatic arrival, how did you find that?
I faced a lot of criticism, but what people don't realise is that Britain's Got Talent is 10 days of my life, and Hollie was with me when I was filming. I think a lot of mums, given the chance, would do what I do - work hard and then have time off. I went back to work because I could - I had survived, I had given birth to Hollie and was proving to my children I was alive, well and that I could do it. That's normal in my family.
Do you find there is a lot of pressure being a mum in the public eye, with everyone wading in and having their say?
I stay out of it.
I know what I'm doing and know I do the best for my children.
A lot of what people were writing about me when I went back to work
were things they wouldn't dare say to my face, so I just get on with things. It's everyone else's problem, not mine.
You've had lots of ups and downs as a mum (Amanda lost a baby seven months into her pregnancy before giving birth to Hollie), what's your advice to other mums and dads who have been through similar experiences?
If there is medically no reason why you can't, you must try again for another baby. If you are meant to have a child, you will have one. It sounds cheesy but I really believe you have to trust in the universe, trust in each other, and be strong. Don't look back, focus on positivity no matter what life throws at you.
Is your family complete?
Absolutely. My family feels 100% perfect and right - Lexi, Hollie, Chris and Me.
Amanda Holden is supporting the Pampers 'Picture a Better Future' campaign. For each specially marked Pampers pack you buy or photo of you and your baby uploaded onto Facebook.com/PampersUKIre, Pampers will donate the cost of an additional vaccine to support UNICEF in the fight against maternal and newborn tetanus.
- Myleene Klass
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> 10 days with Ava, 10 weeks with Hero<br />
When her now toddler, Ava was born, glamorous girl Myleene headed back to present her radio show just 10 days later. She took a bit longer off when little <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.ukphpmyadmin.parentdish.co.uk/2011/03/26/myleene-klass-has-baby-girl/" target="_blank">Hero</a> arrived on the scene, but only <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/06/08/myleene-klass-why-i-have-gone-back-to-work-10-weeks-after-baby-hero-born/" target="_blank">10 weeks</a> in total. The reason? She didn’t want the world to forget her.<br />
‘Whether it was six months or six weeks, it was never going to be easy,’ admitted Myleene at the time. 'My fiancé Gray is always saying, 'You need to go easy on yourself.' Last week, I had terrible mastitis and Gray tried to get me to relax. But I'm petrified showbusiness will leave me behind, as it has before.’</p>
- Gisele Bundchen
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Six weeks</p>
A month and a half into motherhood, Gisele waved goodbye to life as an at-home mum to Benjamin, and headed back to her modelling career, shooting a promo for a fashion brand. She was apparently overheard saying that although it wasn’t long after the birth, she was ‘in shape as always.’ Urgh.</p>
- Heidi Klum
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Seven weeks<br />
Less than two months after giving birth to her fourth baby, Lou, Heidi squeezed herself into a leather skirt and filmed a haircare advert, showing off her impossible post-baby curves, without a dark circle under the eye or stretch mark in sight.</p>
- Natalie Cassidy
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Four months</p>
After wading into the maternity leave row by lashing out at <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2010/11/04/denise-van-outen-criticises-natalie-cassidy/" target="_blank">Denise Van Outen</a> for heading back to the office, Natalie Cassidy was the pot calling the kettle black when she signed up for a reality show following her life as a new mum. She set about <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/02/01/natalie-cassidy-takes-baby-eliza-to-work-despite-criticising-working-mums/" target="_blank">promoting it</a> just a few months after welcoming baby Eliza, with appearances on TV chat shows and pages and pages in celeb magazines. As you can imagine, Denise <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2010/11/04/denise-van-outen-criticises-natalie-cassidy/" target="_blank">saw red…</a></p>
- Karren Brady
<strong>Maternity leave length: </strong>Three days</p>
Apprentice star and businesswoman <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/02/08/karren-brady-sudoku-in-bed-holidays-and-how-you-can-never-be-too-competitive/" target="_blank">Karren </a>took an unimaginable three days of maternity leave when she welcomed her first baby, now teen, Sophia. Admitting it wasn’t an ideal situation, Karren took a much more relaxed approach with her second child, Paolo. ‘That was a mistake. When Paolo was born I took more time off and worked from home,’ says Karren. ‘I tried bringing both children into the office but that didn’t work out. I had to have full-time help in the end.’</p>
- Katie Hopkins
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Three weeks</p>
Mum of three Katie hit the headlines when she appeared on the Apprentice a few years ago. She wades into mum debates in the press regularly, recently speaking out about maternity leave, encouraging new mums to head back to work as soon as they want to: ‘ I took 'micro maternity leave' - you're pregnant, you give birth, you go back,’ admitted Katie. ‘Work gives a sense of normality when you don't even recognise your own body.’</p>
- Miranda Kerr
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> 12 weeks<br />
Model and glamour puss Miranda was back in her cossie and on the runway just three months after giving birth to her first baby with husband, Orlando Bloom, super-cute Flynn. She also, somehow, managed to shift two stone in 12 weeks ready for her new-mum close up. Not that we couldn’t do it too if we really wanted to…</p>
- Kym Marsh
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Four months</p>
Not too bad compared to other celebrity mummys, but four months still seems a little quick to us, and Kym’s Twitter followers clearly agree. She was <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/07/14/kym-marsh-in-twitter-outrage-over-working-mums/ " target="_blank">blasted </a>on the social networking site for heading back to the cobbles and filming for Corrie so soon after giving birth to<a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/03/24/kym-marsh-gives-birth-to-daughter-five-weeks-early/ " target="_blank"> Polly, </a>but she wasn’t having any of it, responding to her critics with the tweet: ‘It's called working.....or should we not be working when we have children?? How dare we provide for our kids! Idiot.'</p>
- Nicole Kidman
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Three weeks</p>
Nicole headed back on to the set of the film, Australia, just a few weeks after giving birth to her first baby, Sunday Rose. The new mum was clearly not one for rest and relaxation at home, admitting after her quick return: ‘I’d just given birth, so I was like, ‘I’m still a woman — I want to do this film! And I have a life other than feeding this baby.’ When you give birth you’re itchy to get back to work, you want to feel that life still goes on.’</p>
- Denise Van Outen
<strong>Maternity leave length: </strong>Two weeks<br />
Just a fortnight after welcoming baby Betsy, Denise was back at work, doing the rounds on TV, radio and promoting her maternity clothing range. Confidently admitting she was ready for action, Denise said: ‘I am not taking any time off. I am working. I worked two weeks after I had Betsy, so I have carried it all on, really. I work at least three days a week and my mum is helping out.’<br />
Of course then it all kicked off when <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2010/08/24/pregnant-natalie-cassidy-slates-denise-van-outen-for-returning-t/" target="_blank">Natalie Cassidy criticised her</a> for heading back to the day job so quickly…</p>
- Victoria Beckham
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Spotted heading to a meeting after one month<br />
When pregnant with arrival of the year, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/07/11/victoria-beckham-names-baby-daughter-harper-seven/" target="_blank">Harper Seven,</a> Posh joked she wasn’t going to be taking maternity leave as she was too busy, going as far as asking, ‘maternity leave, what’s that?’<br />
Now a doting new mum to the little lady, Posh has been holed up at home enjoying her daughter and three older sons, Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz, but has been <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/08/22/super-skinny-victoria-beckham-spotted-for-first-time-since-birth-harper-seven/ " target="_blank">papped </a>out and about preparing for New York Fashion Week.</p>
- Holly Willoughby
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Five months</p>
After starting maternity leave a few weeks early when she went into labour with <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/04/14/holly-willoughby-baby-news-her-daughter-is-born/" target="_blank">Belle, </a>Holly <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/09/01/holly-willoughby-returns-to-work-as-baby-belle-turns-five-months/" target="_blank">headed back</a> to This Morning and Celebrity Juice after five months off. The new mum tweeted her nervous excitement about heading back to the day job, saying: 'First day back at work today!!!! Cant wait to start the new series of Celeb juice, feeling slightly nervous! Wander if I can still do it!'</p>
- Amanda Holden
<strong>Maternity leave length:</strong> Two weeks</p>
Despite a dramatic birth with lots of <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/26/amanda-holden-tells-how-her-heart-stopped-beating-for-40-seconds-traumatic-birth-hollie-rose/" target="_blank">complications</a>, Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda raced back to her seat on the panel after just two weeks at home with new arrival <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/25/amanda-holden-gives-birth-to-daughter-hollie-rose/" target="_blank">Hollie. </a></p>
- Una Healy
<strong style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">Maternity leave length:</strong><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;"> One month</span></p>
Singer Una was back at work with her Saturdays bandmates just four weeks after giving birth to baby Aoife Belle. She started slow by appearing on local promotional shows, but was soon jet-setting around internationally, with her <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/05/04/una-healy-shows-off-baby-aoife-first-passport-on-twitter/" target="_blank">new arrival in tow.</a></p>
- Lily Allen
<strong style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">Maternity leave length:</strong><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;"> Two months</span></p>
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">Lily took a long break after welcoming <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/01/04/lily-allen-names-her-baby-ethel/" target="_blank">first baby Ethel</a>, but was back on stage two months after giving birth to second daughter, Marnie Rose. She <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2013/02/27/new-mum-lily-allen-is-back-on-stage-and-unfazed-by-skinny-undewear-models-paris-fashion-week/" target="_blank">belted out her hit song ‘Smile’ at Paris Fashion Week</a>, to a very warm reception. </span></p>
<strong style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">Maternity leave length:</strong><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;"> Just over three months</span></p>
Adele has been keeping mum about her new son - rumoured to be called Angelo - who was <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/12/10/adele-could-face-1000-fine-for-not-registering-her-sons-birth/" target="_blank">born in October</a>. She kept well out of the public eye after his birth, but made her singing return at the Oscars, performing her hit Skyfall. </p>