Cradling her baby bump and looking every inch the glamorous yummy mummy-to-be, Janette Manrara is calm, relaxed and glowing with happiness as she and husband Aljaž Škorjanec count down the days to the arrival of their first child.
When is Janette and Aljaz's baby due?
The former Strictly Come Dancing professionals can’t wait to become parents later this month and, as they tell HELLO! how they are preparing for this next big step in their lives, Janette proudly reveals her blossoming baby body in this exclusive photoshoot.
Looking stunning and serene in our gorgeous images, the TV presenter says she has been thriving in her final trimester. “I am really enjoying being pregnant,” says Janette, 39. “I love having a bump and watching my body change and grow. I have felt really good the whole time and I count my blessings for that, because I know it’s not the case for every woman.”
The couple have just returned from an appointment with their midwife, who has reassured them that the pregnancy is progressing as expected.
What is Janette's birth plan?
Janette, who is a petite size six, has been advised by her obstetrician that an elective C-section is the safest way to deliver her baby and the couple plan to travel to a London hospital a few days before her due date, although they are also registered in Cheshire as a back-up.
“It looks like we have a bigger than average size baby, but I’m not an average size human and because of the width of my hips it’s advised that I get a C-section,” she explains. “But I feel really relaxed about it all. You really can’t plan everything because there are so many variables and I’m kind of open to all the different options and scenarios.
"So, I’m not trying to lock in a certain date or procedure, because you just never really know how it’s going to happen until the baby comes. And I think having that kind of openness in my thoughts has actually kept me quite calm.”
Go behind the scenes of the HELLO! shoot with Janette Manrara:
Whatever form the delivery takes the couple, who married in 2017, want to create the right atmosphere. They have battery powered candles and a playlist of their favourite music ready, including tracks from Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel and Disney. “Because we’re both dancers and music is such a part of what we do, I want the baby to be born into that space of music and happiness,” Janette says. Meanwhile, Aljaž, 33, is embracing his new role as devoted dad-to-be. “Aljaž has been such a great partner,” says Janette. “He doesn’t let me lift a finger and he’s been cooking and cleaning and helping get everything ready. He’s been amazing.”
Is Janette returning to It Takes Two?
Janette, who is a regular on the BBC’s Morning Live and co-presents podcast Twist and Shout with Aljaž, plans to return to work in the autumn, presenting Strictly spin-off It Takes Two, alongside new co-host Fleur East. Aljaž, who left Strictly last year, plans to take some time off so he can throw himself into dad duties. “Aljaž is going to step in and do daddy daycare and if he can’t I will take the baby to work with me,” says Janette.
“I’ve changed nappies before,” says Aljaž, who has two young nieces in Slovenia. “At the end of the day it all comes down to how much you want to be involved. We’re lucky that I can take a step back from everything else and just be a dad for the time being.”
Janette, who has worked throughout her pregnancy, hopes she can inspire women who want to do the same not to feel limited. “I was always quite nervous about falling pregnant because you hear about the tough times some women experience, so I think it’s important to also share good stories about pregnancy,” she says. “Sometimes pregnancies do go really well and you can carry on with your life. It’s ok to be a working woman feeling empowered by your pregnancy because it can be a really positive experience as well.”
Pregnant Gemma Atkinson's mum advice for Janette
There will be no shortage of help once the baby arrives; Janette’s parents will be flying over from Miami to meet their first grandchild and Aljaž’s parents will come from Slovenia. Meanwhile, the couple’s good friends, Strictly dancer Gorka Marquez and his fiancée Gemma Atkinson, live nearby and are expecting their second baby this month too.
“We met up with them recently and joked that next time we see each other there might be seven of us,” says Janette. “Obviously Gemma has done it all before and she’s been a really good guide for me. It was nice to sit and talk with her and she seemed so calm and ready for baby number two. I love her approach towards life and motherhood and seeing what an amazing mum she is to Mia is an inspiration to me and she has helped me feel calm too. I want to be like that for my baby one day.”
Do Janette and Aljaz know their baby’s gender?
While they aren’t revealing the baby’s gender, Janette and Aljaz have already chosen a name, which they use when they talk to the bump. They also play their favourite music, including Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi and Janette’s favourite Disney track So This Is Love, from Cinderella.
What baby name have Janette and Aljaz chosen?
“Babies can hear you and can feel your hand and it has been really nice to put my hand on Janette’s belly and feel our baby move,” says Aljaž. “We settled on a name about eight years ago but then as soon as we fell pregnant, we completely erased that one from the options. Then, not that long ago, Janette suggested a name and that was the one that we kind of stuck with. Now, whenever we caress the bump we say the name. People say that you need to see the baby before you solidify it but I feel like we do have a name.”
As they prepare for the birth the couple, who exclusively shared their pregnancy news with HELLO! earlier this year, have been settling into a new home after relocating from London to Cheshire, where their four-bedroom house is surrounded by fields.
“It’s such a calming space, which is exactly why we came up here - we just wanted to have a calmer pace of life,” says Janette. They have also been getting to know other expectant parents at ante-natal classes. “As well as learning stuff that you need to know before the baby arrives, it has been really nice to meet people that are going through exactly the same thing at the same time,” says Aljaž.
“You kind of bond over that and you feel like you’re not completely on your own.” Janette agrees: “It’s nice because we’re all first-time parents, so we have the same worries, the same fears and the same kind of questions. We all get to sit together and just talk about everything and I think it’s nice, especially for the partners, to understand what our bodies are going through and what the process is.”
They say they found the mum&me app invaluable when sourcing their pram, car seat and other baby paraphernalia and last week, local design company Dove Interiors put the finishing touches to the new nursery, which is decorated in grey and beige neutrals, with books and soft toys, as well as hints of Disney. “I really wanted it to feel like a calm space, because the baby is going to sleep there and we’re about to enter this mad chapter of our lives,” says Janette.
“I’m a Disney fan but some characters and prints can be quite loud, so the designers have found ways of implementing Disney into the nursery without overtaking the whole space and making it feel like it’s too much.”
Paintings of Mickey and Minnie Mouse hang on a feature wall above the baby’s cot, while the centrepiece is a clock – a gift from a fan some years ago – depicting Disney’s Magic Kingdom and various characters, which move every hour when the clock chimes.
Photographer – Nicky Johnston
Fashion Styling – Gayle Rinkoff
Hair and makeup – Summer Dyason