Prestenter of hit TV show, ‘Ten Years Younger’, Nicky Hambleton-Jones, 39, likes to tell it like it is. ‘Being a parent is relentless,’ she says. ‘I don’t know what I did with my time before I had Ben. It’s totally worth it, and Benny makes me laugh every day, but it’s a proper slog.’
Nicky, married to Rob, a civil engineer, has been open about the fact she had a tough time during the labour and birth. ‘Ben was a big baby – 9lb 10oz – and he was stuck in a tricky position,’ says Nicky. ‘After a five-day labour, I had an emergency Caesarean. I’d been so brainwashed about how a “natural” birth was better that I felt terrified about having a C-section, but it was the only option – and thank goodness there are alternatives. Sometimes “natural” just doesn’t work, and people should be more upfront about that.
A couple of my friends are pregnant at the moment, and I just tell them the most important thing is that they get through it safely, and have a healthy baby. ‘I didn’t produce enough milk to breastfeed,’ Nicky continues. ‘So Ben was formula-fed. And you know what? Being “free” from all the things you should do made it so much easier. Even then, the first six weeks were just about surviving. The thing I struggled with was getting out the door. It literally took hours to get anywhere. My advice to new mums would be, don’t even try – just hole up while you adjust. It takes a while to get to grips with it all. You get up, feed your baby, put him down for a nap, feed him…then you do it all again the next day, and the next. Nothing can prepare you for it.’
Nearly 12 months on, however, and Nicky is loving her new life. ‘Ben’s an angel baby,’ says Nicky. ‘I found the early days so hard that I got a routine in place early. So now he sleeps from 7pm to 7am, and eats everything; he’s like a bird with his beak open – food in, close, swallow, and we’re done in five minutes. He knows his routine! And he hardly ever cries. I’m very lucky.’
Nicky is now back at work – she’s the brains behind anti-ageing website lookandfeelyounger.tv, has her own eyewear range (nhjstyle.com), and is still involved in fashion and styling. ‘I share a nanny with another family four days a week, which Ben loves,’ she says. ‘He gets to do fun things and interact with other children. My working day is from 8am to 5pm, and then it’s all about him. Fridays are our day together, and the weekend is family time. Rob and I go out less now. At first I tried to see friends at weekends and go out one night in the week, but I was exhausted. So now Rob and I stay in and have a glass of wine. Although now we buy cases rather than bottles!’
And with that, Nicky is camera-ready. She looks great. ‘I go running regularly,’ she says. ‘It’s easier to fit into my day than a trek to the gym. I’m also religious about stomach exercises. I had a great stomach before Ben was born, and I want it back! In fact, I feel fitter now I’m a mum than I did before,’ she continues. ‘During pregnancy, you’re doubling your blood volume, which means you’re processing oxygen more efficiently and your lung capacity improves. Maybe it’s psychological but I feel better than I ever have!’
Nicky’s new mum tips for looking good and feeling great
‘Just because you have kids, you don’t have to look as though you do!’ Nicky says. ‘It’s no reason to let yourself go. Looking good doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or daunting. If you have a generally good lifestyle, follow a simple skincare routine – you only have to cleanse, tone and moisturise – and stay hydrated, you’re halfway there. Also, don’t forget sun protection, even in winter. I wear at least SPF 25 every day.
‘A simple shift dress is great for when you need to look smart but don’t want to wear anything too tight or revealing.’
Layers can create shape. Put a dark-coloured long-sleeved T-shirt under a fitted cardigan, add a slim belt, but leave the cardi open. The darker panel down the middle will make you look slimmer, plus you’ll be bang on trend.’
‘Don’t underestimate the power of “support” underwear. It can transform your wardrobe, I promise!’
‘Avoid too much volume on top if your boobs are big. Oversized knitwear or anything double-breasted will make you look bigger