Paloma Faith gave birth to her first child in December 2016, an experience she describes as both ‘life-changing’ and ‘like a bomb went off’.
The singer-songwriter, now 37, has one regret: that she didn’t have her baby years earlier.
“A lot of people are having children later now, and I personally believe – having done it – that we’re all doing it too late,” she tells Yahoo UK.
“When you have kids later you’ve already established so much of your life and your career. You get used to doing things in a certain way – and then it’s like a bomb goes off.
“When younger people do it, they don’t necessarily have that – so they take to it like a duck to water.”
Television presenter Kirstie Allsopp, who gave birth to her first son, Bay, aged 36, was met with controversy in 2014 after telling The Telegraph she would advise a daughter, if she had one, to ditch university and “have a baby by the time you’re 27″.
Being an older mother is increasingly common. Nowadays, one in five mums have what the NHS terms as a ‘geriatric pregnancy’, giving birth aged 35 or older. Meghan Markle, who is pregnant with her first child aged 37, falls into this category of women.
Paloma also addresses raising her child as gender-neutral, telling Yahoo UK that this has been misconstrued by the media. “The phrase has followed me around like a bad smell,” she says.
The singer isn’t raising her child without telling them their gender; instead, she simply wants to ’empower’ her child by not giving them gendered toys or clothing.
“It’s wrong to constrain your child to a gender stereotype,” she explains. “A child just needs to be who they are and not labelled. My nephews always had a pushchair and a doll, growing up, and they’re kind boys with a lot of empathy.”
As for her child’s name, that decision is simply a matter of privacy, she explains.
For Paloma, becoming a mother was isolating: “For the first three to six months, you feel like a feeding machine – I was dying for an adult conversation.”
She found breastfeeding – which she continued for seven months – a challenge: “The majority of new mothers are clueless and so are the babies. Mine just cried.”
If she had her time over, she says she would put herself through the breastfeeding process for less time. “I feel like my baby was always happiest when I was happy. – including when they drank formula,” Paloma explains.
What does make Paloma’s life easier, however, is her supportive partner, Leyman Lahcine. An artist, he decided to stay at home with the pair’s child so Paloma could return to work.
“A friend of ours said [to my partner], ‘Oh lucky for some’, but I told them staying at home and looking after a child is harder than working,” she says.
“Fathers need more encouragement. If women are working then men also need to take care of those maternal roles as well. It makes me so much less guilty to leave my child every day, knowing they are being left with one of their parents.”
Paloma is currently working with Pampers for the #ThankYouMidwife campaign, a drive to celebrate and championing the UK’s midwives. Paloma, who had her child on the NHS, says her care was “incredible” hence her decision to support the cause.
“1 in 3 midwives feel undervalued, so it seems important to acknowledge what they have done. The post birth care was so incredible. You could be up at 3 or 4 in the morning and reach a midwife on the other end of the phone telling you how to breastfeed.”
Find out more about Pampers’ mission to support midwives this Christmas.
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