Huge congratulations to Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev! The Strictly Come Dancing couple, who met on the BBC dance show back in 2013, have welcomed their first child together - a baby girl! "2 weeks after we were expecting her this little one finally made an appearance," the Countdown presenter tweeted on Wednesday morning. "Miss Maven (one who understands) Aria (lioness) Riley Kovaleva arrived on Sunday morning weighing in at 7lbs 4."
Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev have welcomed their first child together
However, little Maven's arrival into the world was quite the surprise for the couple. "After keeping us waiting she came so fast we didn't get to hospital & was born in our bathroom with our amazing doula & wonderful St Mary’s midwives rushing over to be with us just in time," the new mum added. "She's absolutely perfect & Pasha & I are in newborn bliss. Couldn't be more in love."
The happy couple announced the news they were expecting a child in May. The Countdown presenter shared a sweet picture of herself cradling her baby bump as she posed in front of the famous letters board, which spelled out "R TINY MATE" - an anagram of the word 'maternity'. In the caption, she wrote: "Pash and I have a conundrum for you. You have till December to work it out! We're over the moon excited."
The Strictly lovebirds have named their daughter Maven
It's been an exciting year for Rachel and Pasha; shortly after announcing their pregnancy, the lovebirds eloped to Las Vegas where they married in secret. They shared their happy news on Instagram, with Rachel writing: "Introducing the new Mr and Mrs Kovalev. We both said yes!" The two stars met when they were partnered in the 2013 series of the BBC contest. They started dating in 2014, after Rachel split from husband Jamie Gilbert the previous year.
Speaking to the Radio Times last year, Rachel gushed about her romance with the Russian dancer. "I am in love now," she shared. "I don't feel I have to get married. I don’t think I need that pressure any more. I don't worry about getting married or whether he is taking a long time in the morning or whether he has done the dishes. That does not really bother me in the long term. I feel settled." She added in the interview: "I don't feel the need to do it again. If I'm with someone and I'm happy, that's enough." And touching on children briefly, she said: "I don't see myself with or without children - whatever will be, will be."
WATCH: Rachel Riley does volunteering ahead of giving birth
In November, Rachel opened up about her pregnancy during a chat with HELLO! at a gala fundraiser for international football charity Grassroot Soccer ahead of World Aids Day. The then-expectant mother revealed working so far into the pregnancy was always her plan. "I've been lucky as it's been plain sailing so far and I'm hoping that's a good indication for the birth and the baby," she shared. "I'm really enjoying being pregnant. People are so nice and every time someone gives you a seat on the Tube or helps you with your bag, it’s so nice. I’m hoping for a natural birth. We’ve got a doula and I’m going to try hypnobirthing."
There will also be a helping hand available from her mother-in-law, who has flown in from Pasha's native Russia to be around for the birth of her first grandchild. "She's going to be here for a couple of months. It’ll be lovely to have her in the house," Rachel said.
Being with Pasha and hearing about his childhood has given her a different perspective about organising the household for the arrival of a baby. "When he was born in 1980, it was the Soviet Union and so his mother didn’t have things like nappies or even running water," she said. "They kept the baby on the floor and he’s come out as he is so it makes you feel a little bit more relaxed. You don’t need all this stuff, all the gizmos; you just need your instinct."
The couple started dating in 2014 after meeting on Strictly
The couple will also make sure their baby speaks Russian as well as English to honour both sides of the family. "We’ve got baby books with farmyard animals described in Russian so Pasha is going to be on bedtime story duty, otherwise they won’t be able to speak to their grandma and uncle," said Rachel. First, however, there is Christmas with a newborn in the family to prepare for. "Pasha’s mum will be there and we’ll get the whole family round," Rachel told us. "They’re very excited."
Meanwhile, Pasha announced he was leaving Strictly after eight years in February. His statement read: "After scoring 93 perfect tens, reaching 4 finals lifting 1 glitter ball, it's time for me to find a new challenge and so I've decided to make last year my final season on Strictly." He added: "I've had five fantastic years, full of wonderful memories, thanks to the incredible partners, professionals and myriad of behind the scenes teams who all work to make Strictly the amazing production that it is. The biggest thanks go to all the members of the public who've supported me so much over the years - I look forward to seeing you on the Strictly Pro-Tour this spring, and for many future adventures to come!"
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