If anyone can claim to be feeling in the pink, it's TV and radio presenter Neev Spencer, who has become a mum for the second time. "I am over the moon, I couldn't be happier to have another little girl. Everything is pink – the pram is pink, the car seat is pink, even my second car is pink," smiles Neev, who gave birth to Vivienne, her second child, just days before big sister Genevieve's third birthday.
"I love pink unashamedly and Genevieve has been like my little doll and has so many stunning dresses, so it is extremely thrifty to think that Vivienne is going to get to enjoy them as well," says Neev, who welcomes HELLO! to her London home with her husband, advertising designer Chan.
"Genevieve adores her new little sister, singing to her and stroking her face, although if Vivienne starts crying she covers her ears! I love to sing to them, although I'm not sure how good it is," laughs 35-year-old Neev. "Both girls were on my radio show on Kiss FM every day while I was pregnant, hearing music through the womb, so they love it."
This time around, however, the pregnancy and the early days with a new baby have been "completely different", due in part to the struggle the couple went through to conceive with Genevieve. "I went into this whole experience so differently. With our first baby it was such a scary time as you don't know what to expect, and I was definitely going through some pre-natal depression," explains Neev.
"We had wanted a baby for so long and my anxiety was extremely heightened. I was so desperate to have a baby and that spiralled into anxiety ahead of the birth, as I was so worried about the baby's safety," says Neev. "Even when we brought our first baby home I put extreme pressure on myself, but this time I felt confident, calm and so empowered – I was aware of the need to have a strong body and mind. I did yoga, I saw a psychologist to discuss anxiety ahead of the birth and went for a very holistic approach. I joke now saying I went into this pregnancy like I was preparing for the Olympics with a coaching team in my corner."
Her 35-year-old husband Chan (who is of Jamaican-Chinese-English heritage) has been her biggest ally; and he came up with the name Vivienne early on in the pregnancy. "We wanted something that went with Genevieve, so something classic and bold but old and feminine. Our girls are a mix of Jamaican, Chinese, English and Indian with French names, so we're a very universal family," says Neev. Both Genevieve and Vivienne, who was born on 16 July, have the middle name Kaur – "princess" in Punjabi – to reflect their Sikh heritage.
While tradition is important to her, Neev employed the latest technology at the birth, which took place at Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea Hospital in London. "I decided to have my placenta made into capsules and a balm to heal and rejuvenate the body. We also had the cord blood banked for future use in stem cell therapies in case Vivienne should ever need it, and it meant we have found out that she is not lactose intolerant but that she has a high percentage of glucose intolerance. To have that knowledge, I would recommend it to other parents."
She is also passionate about sharing her own experience of motherhood to help others struggling with maternal mental health. This is something that led to her meeting with the Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace ahead of making a film about her own experience of post-natal depression for the Royal Foundation's Heads Together initiative.
"We spoke of how much pressure we put on ourselves and how you can never prepare yourself to be a mum," says Neev, who is also a Prince's Trust ambassador, hosting Facebook Live sessions about mental health, which has led to her meeting the Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Earlier this year, Neev put her support behind Shout's Crisis Text Line, a text messaging service backed by the Cambridges and Sussexes for people experiencing a mental health crisis and trained as a volunteer. She is clearly grateful that she has not suffered the anxiety that plagued her as a first-time mum.
"Now I am positive and joyful. I feel that this time around I am enjoying it, which last time around I didn't allow myself to do as I was so caught up in the failures I thought I was making. I regret that so much and I am so grateful that I can really enjoy being a mummy. It is far more powerful to focus on positives than to dwell on negatives. To connect with my baby is the biggest gift I could have ever asked for. I hope I can educate and empower more mums to get to where I am this time, rather than where I was first time around. That is my mission."
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