Life

Actress Jacqueline Jossa: Marriages have ups and downs and mine's no different

The reported break-up of her marriage to a reality TV star has been well publicised but former EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa tells Gabrielle Fagan that her daughter keeps her grounded and pregnancy helps to keep the stress of it all at bay

Jacqueline Jossa – I want to be someone my daughter can look up to, a strong, independent woman

JACQUELINE Jossa joined EastEnders seven years ago as the rebellious teenager Lauren Branning, who made a dramatic exit in February to find a new life away from Albert Square.

Talented and glamorous, the pregnant 25-year-old has won several awards over the years, but it's her rocky personal life off-screen that has recently been creating headlines.

According to reports, she and her ex-Towie star husband Dan Osborne have split up after 10 months of marriage. The couple began dating in 2014 and married in June last year, but Osborne declared that "life's too short" to stay in an unhappy relationship, in a recent newspaper interview.

At the time of the interview, Jossa remained hopeful they'd stay on good terms, saying: "These things happen – marriages have ups and downs and mine's no different. He'll be at the birth, of course. He's an amazing dad."

The couple have a three-year-old daughter, Ella, and are expecting their second baby in weeks. Here, Jossa opens up about how she's coping, her pregnancy worries and how she wants to inspire her daughter.

How have you dealt with the stress of the last few months?

"I'm pretty good at not getting stressed. All my friends say, 'You just bottle it up', but I actually don't. Maybe I've just got a really thick skin, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, I just get on with things and stay calm.

"Being pregnant helps, because you have a new lease of life – you're doing everything for your baby. Life's about doing the best for your children."

What has this pregnancy been like for you?

"My first pregnancy was so straightforward. This has been more difficult and I don't think I could have gotten through it without the support and guidance of my midwife. I was very sick for the first three months, which is difficult when you've already got a demanding little one to take care of. I recently couldn't feel the baby move, which was so scary. It was wonderful to get reassurance that everything was fine from the midwife.

"My mum sadly lost two babies through cot death before I was born, and although there's no apparent hereditary link, it does make you a bit more nervous – but again, the midwives have been reassuring.

"After Ella was born, I was a bit edgy and constantly checking that she was breathing because of our family history. I feel more confident the second time around."

Do you miss EastEnders?

"Of course, it was such a big part of my life. I had a wonderful time there – it's where I grew up really, but I'm ready for a new challenge. You can't stay doing one thing forever.

"This baby wasn't planned, so it was a shock when I found out [I was pregnant] just as I left the show. Instead of following my big plan of leaving and smashing it work-wise, I'm on a break instead.

"It's worked out nicely though, because I've really been able to embrace this time with Ella and prepare her for having a new member of the family.

"Sometimes it was hard, when I was in working, because there were periods where a week would go by and I wouldn't have seen her at all. I'd leave the house at 6am and not get back until 8pm. Daniel or my mum were looking after her, but I'd feel sad, thinking, 'I don't know what she's been doing, saying or learning'. I'll definitely go back to work though, after the baby."

What sort of role model do you want to be for your daughter Ella?

"I want to be someone she can look up to – a strong, independent woman who's made a life for themselves. I'd love her to see me as someone she's proud of, working and doing what I love.

"Since I've had her, I don't wear make-up at home. I only wear it now when I'm going out and want to look good. That's only happened because she asked me one day why I wore it. I didn't want to say, 'To make myself look better because I look disgusting', because she thinks I look beautiful anyway. I want her to grow up thinking she's naturally beautiful.

"The only trouble is I get 'papped' all the time and if I'm not wearing any make-up, social media is full of comments like, 'Oh she looks so tired' or, 'She must be going through so much'.

"The real truth is that I've just pulled on my clothes and run out of the house to do the school run. But you have to take social media with a pinch of salt and have a strong backbone. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to leave the house and I'd have had plastic surgery by now, because I'd be so insecure.

"In reality, I'm living a real life with all of the ups and downs everybody else has."

Do you know the sex of the baby?

"Yes I do, and we're keeping it a secret... but I told Ella by accident. That was a terrible move, because I don't want to teach her to lie and keep secrets. Honesty is so important to me, so all I could say to her was, 'Please don't talk about it'.

"Of course, that means she's told everybody at school – the teachers and the kids."

How do you look after your health and wellbeing?

"I'm not into exercise really, but I do loads of walking and running after Ella. My bath's my calm place and, although it sounds crazy, I talk to myself there.

"I'll talk through my day and, if I'm angry, I'll play out an argument or conversation in my head, which releases all the pent-up anger that I don't need and I feel better. It's my little form of daily therapy.

"I actually had therapy when I was on EastEnders – not because I had any issues but because I was so young when I started working there. It's part of the way they look after you while you're on the series.

"It helps you deal with the fact that your life completely changes when you're on such a big show, and you can sort out any problems you're having generally, with someone non-judgmental.

"I think, all too often, we go to the doctors if we hurt ourselves physically, but we don't look after our brains or our hearts that much. Everyone should have therapy – I'll probably have it after I've had the baby."

:: Jacqueline Jossa is an ambassador for Pampers supporting their #ThankYouMidwife campaign, which asks members of the public to thank their midwives. For every thank you shared on social media, Pampers will donate £1 to support midwives in need.

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