We had a chat with actress Kellie Shirley - best-known for playing Carly Wicks in EastEnders - about her pregnancy, expecting twins and why mums-to-be might want to think about cord blood donation
First of all, congratulations! You have just two weeks left to go in your pregnancy. How has it been so far?
It seems to have gone quickly and taken forever at the same time. Overall it's been a lovely experience. I've learnt so much about how amazing our bodies are. As an actress it's been particularly nice not to worry too much about how much cake I'm eating! I am finding it difficult to sleep right now although when I do, the snoring kicks in so I feel sorry for my fella having to share the bed…
Many of our members will know you from your time on EastEnders. What was it like working on such an iconic British soap?
There's a fantastic team working on the show from script writers to the make-up team and of course the cast! I've made some friends for life doing the show. Being a Londoner it was extra special rocking up to the Walford set every day. It's been a nice part of my career and I've got lots of fond memories.
You’re expecting twins, how did you feel when you found out?
It was one of the best moments of my life. It was pretty amazing seeing two heartbeats pumping away on the screen. I felt very lucky indeed.
You’ve done your NCT course now. How did you find it?
Loads of my friends recommended doing an NCT course to learn about pregnancy, newborns and to meet parents in my area going through the same experience. We've picked up lots of useful information along the way and met some lovely people. The best course we did was the Baby First Aid course - I feel a lot more confident now and would recommend it to other parents.
Do you have any other tips for other parents-to-be?
I'm hoping the key is to be relaxed so that our babies will be chilled. I want to enjoy them as much as possible at each stage. I’m also going to take it in turns with my partner to get some sleep so we avoid getting ratty with each other! I really don't know what it's going to be like just yet – I still haven’t changed a nappy…
You’re supporting the Anthony Nolan Cord Blood campaign. How did you get involved?
I was asked to run the marathon for them back in 2008 when I worked on EastEnders and became a supporter then. When I became pregnant we spoke about their cord blood campaign and if I'd be interested in raising awareness for it.
If one of our members wanted to donate their cord blood, what would they need to do?
At the moment, Anthony Nolan are set up to collect cord blood at four hospitals (Saint Mary's in Manchester, King’s College Hospital in London, Leicester Royal Infirmary and Leicester General Hospital) while the NHS collects at five others (Barnet General Hospital, Northwick Park Hospital, Watford General Hospital, Luton and Dunstable Hospital and St George's Hospital). You can donate if you’re giving birth at any of these hospitals.
You can find out more online (see below), arrange to talk to someone at your hospital or one of the Anthony Nolan team. Even if your cord blood is not a match for someone with blood cancer, it can be used for research purposes. Two thousand people use the blood bank every year so it really is a vital resource in saving lives.*
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about being a parent?
Having those first cuddles!
We wish Kellie all the best with the birth of her twins.
* If you do consider donating your cord blood, remember that you don’t need to have your umbilical cord cut straight after birth. Current NICE guidance recommends that healthy women who have their baby at term shouldn’t have their cord clamped in the first 60 seconds, unless there is a medical need to do so. This is to ensure that babies receive all the blood they need.
If you’d like to find out more about Anthony Nolan’s campaign, visit their website.