My little ray of sunshine!

Coronation Street actress Tina O'Brien talks about motherhood

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Your daughter Scarlett is nearly 2. What’s it like watching your baby grow into a toddler?

It’s amazing – she’s changing every day. She’s very much her own person, that’s for sure! She’s such a happy little girl. I’m always amazed by how much toddlers take in – the way they’re constantly learning. They’re like little sponges!

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Did you enjoy being pregnant?

I liked the middle bit. During the first trimester, I had bad morning sickness, and towards the end I felt really uncomfortable, big and heavy. But I loved my labour – it felt really natural. All my friends think I’m mad when I say that, but it was like my body just automatically knew what to do. The whole thing was three-and-a-half hours long from start to finish. Out Scarlett popped, all 7lb 1oz of her. I did a birth hypnosis course and I think that really helped.

Did you breast- or bottle-feed?

I breastfed until Scarlett was 4 months old, then I tried combination-feeding before moving on to bottlefeeding exclusively. I didn’t really get on with combination-feeding, to be honest – I found it confusing, so goodness knows what Scarlett thought! I wish now I’d breastfed for longer.

How long did it take you to lose the baby weight?

Ages! I thought it would just fall off, but it didn’t. I’d see other new mums who had snapped back into shape and thought, how did you do that? It took about a year. But I didn’t put myself under too much pressure. I just wore Spanx a lot!

What’s the toughest thing about motherhood?

The huge sense of responsibility you feel – the life of this little person is in my hands. Also, the sleep deprivation – I remember feeling so exhausted when Scarlett was a tiny baby that I thought I was going crazy. It’s absolutely the hardest thing. It makes everything such a big deal – I can look back now and laugh about it, but at the time I honestly thought I was never going to sleep again.

You’re a single mum after splitting from Scarlett’s dad Ryan Thomas. Is it tough looking after a toddler on your own?

Actually, we have a great schedule. Ryan has her twice a week, and I have her the rest of the time. I could always do with more sleep though – Scarlett still doesn’t sleep through and wakes three or four times during the night.

How are you finding juggling being a mum with your acting career?

The reality is I’m a jobbing actress, and sometimes my schedule is such that I don’t see as much of my daughter as I’d like. But the nursery she goes to is great, and my mum is also absolutely brilliant with her. I’m also lucky in that the projects I do are so varied – the campaign I’ve just done for Soltan, Boots’ sun cream range, meant I got to take Scarlett to work with me every day. Now that was really lovely.

Tell us a bit more about the campaign…

It’s to educate parents on the importance of sun protection for the whole family. I loved having a tan as a teenager, but now I’m a mum I completely understand why other mums are so paranoid about making sure their children have enough sun cream on. I made it a bit of a game with Scarlett this summer – I’d put some on and she’d copy me, or I’d put some on her and then she’d put some on me. It worked – most of the time!

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Boots aims to educate mums and children on the importance of sun protection and sun safety in a fun and interactive way, by giving them the chance to win a Teddy Bears’ Picnic for their local community.  For more information about how to enter, click here

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