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Celebrity Health – Ali Bastian

Image of Ali Bastian © David O'Mahony for Blue Pineapple Pictures

Actress Ali Bastian chats to Liz Parry about adapting to motherhood during the Covid-19 lockdown

As the country went into lockdown in March, we all struggled with having to stay indoors, working from home, home-schooling our children and not being able to see our loved ones. For actress Ali Bastian, the experience was particularly challenging as she had just given birth to her first child, Isla, on 12 March. The former Hollyoaks star had to adjust to life as a new mum in lockdown, with help from her husband, fellow actor David O’Mahony, but was unable to share the experience with family members or friends.

Ali, who has also starred in ITV’s The Bill and BBC’s Doctors, talks to us about her experience of pregnancy and first-time motherhood, her love of yoga and mindfulness and how she is connecting with other new mums through social media.

Q Congratulations on the birth of Isla! Was it difficult adjusting to new motherhood during the UK lockdown?

Ali: Well, everything went into lockdown just a few days after Isla was born. The midwife at the hospital knew what was afoot and recommended that we go home and batten down the hatches. It all feels like a bit of a whirlwind when I look back. It was just David and I and Isla until recently. David is so bonded with Isla and is such a hands-on father. There has been an aspect of Covid-19 that has meant a lot of us have had to get off the treadmill and really simplify our lives. My friends have said that their children are thriving because both parents are around constantly. But at the same time, hats off to all the parents who have had to juggle working from home and home-schooling their children without any help.

Q What do you find helps you to get through challenging times?

Ali: I qualified as a yoga teacher a few years ago. My mum’s a yoga teacher and as a family we’ve always loved it. I find it’s a really good way to relax and slow things down a bit. At times like this when life has been quite stressful and there’s a lot to juggle I’ve turned to a yoga nidra practice [a form of guided meditation]. I find that things like that are so helpful for combating any anxiety that might be arising. We all have these ideals about how life should be and sometimes it doesn’t turn out that way, so it’s about making space for those feelings and coming to a state of acceptance.

Q Did you practise yoga throughout your pregnancy?

Ali: I’d love to say yes, but I had gestational diabetes and I was enormous and uncomfortable in my body towards the end of my pregnancy. I also had SPD [symphysis pubis dysfunction] and pelvic pain, so I had quite a lot going on with my body. Although I started out practising yoga, towards the end of the pregnancy the best thing for me was to rest and go for walks with our two dogs. I think what yoga has taught me is that it’s not about everyone being in Lululemon leggings doing a really powerful yoga practice. It’s about listening to yourself and honouring what’s going on with your body.

Q Did you make any dietary changes when you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes?

Ali: Yes, it turned out to be something that I could control with my diet so I didn’t need to be medicated. All that meant for me was cutting out refined sugar and controlling my carbohydrate intake. I didn’t find that too hard to follow and I felt quite good on that diet so that was a bit of an education. Even though it was specific to the diabetes diagnosis, my feeling is that it’s quite a good diet to follow and it’s something I’m going to have to watch out for in the future as I could have a predisposition to getting diabetes later on. After I had the baby my diabetes went away but the lesson stayed with me. I still follow quite a clean diet now that I’m breastfeeding as everything that I put in my body has the potential to affect Isla. I’m trying my best but it’s tough because I have a sweet tooth and I love chocolate!

Q Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

Ali: At the moment I’m taking calcium and vitamin D but again that’s mainly for support during breastfeeding.

Q Were you able to connect with other new mums and share your experience despite being in lockdown?

Ali: I’ve really been connecting with other people on social media because I haven’t been able to go to any mother and baby groups so I’ve really felt out of the loop. There’s a lovely lady called Amy Polly who I connected with through the magic of Instagram. She does mindfulness meditation and I’ve had a few sessions with her over Zoom. She did a meditation on my Instagram that other mums could try out as well. You can find her at @thisismamakind. I’ve met so many women online who had their babies at the same time as me and it’s felt like a support network. You have this need to connect with other people, to share and talk about your experience, and so I ended up doing that through social media. This has encouraged me to reach out more than I normally would and as a result I’ve met some wonderful people. I think there are always lessons to be learnt in life.

Ali Bastian is a proud ambassador for her favourite pregnancy brand Secret Saviours:

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