Frankie: How I beat my demons
The Saturdays singer has enjoyed both fame and adversity, from starring in two pop bands to fighting depression. She tells Gabrielle Fagan how love and motherhood have transformed her life
Outwardly, Frankie Bridge is the epitome of celebrity - dazzling smile, super-stylish crop haircut and perfectly groomed with a loose top cleverly disguising her pregnancy bump - but it's what's not on show which is perhaps more revealing of this singer and dancer.
On her neck, the member of girl band, The Saturdays and runner-up in last year's Strictly Come Dancing, has a tattoo of the words Sunshine and Showers, which she believes sums up her personality and could also aptly describe her life.
While she's enjoyed fame from an early age - she was only an elfin-faced 12-year-old when she joined the hugely successful group, S Club Juniors - she's also battled depression and most recently had her second pregnancy blighted by hyperemesis gravidarum, the condition causing extreme nausea and vomiting which was also suffered by the Duchess of Cambridge.
"'Sunshine and showers' is the nickname my nan gave me as a kid and it's the perfect way to describe me. There's no grey area with me at all. I'm a love it or hate it kind of person, either really loud or really quiet, and things are either fantastic or rubbish," declares the stunningly attractive 26-year-old who is happy to demonstrate that celebrity doesn't guarantee a life airbrushed of problems.
Currently there's no doubting she's in a 'sunshine' phase as she and her retired footballer husband, Wayne, 34, await the arrival of a brother or sister for their adorable 18-month-old son, Parker, in August.
"I'm feeling so much better now but it hasn't been an easy pregnancy," she grimaces, recalling the worst weeks of illness when she was nearly hospitalised, and in January forced to pull out of the Strictly dance tour.
"The condition kicked in at around six weeks and I was so ill, they wanted to admit me to hospital. The only reason I didn't go is that I literally couldn't bear the thought of the journey in the car to get there.
"I was terribly upset at not being able to tour with Strictly although at least, thanks to Kate (Middleton), everyone understood what I was suffering from. At one point I just lay on the floor because even moving my eyes made me feel ill. Luckily it's eased off and although it returns every so often, as long as I'm careful to rest, eat little and often, and take anti-nausea medication, it's controllable and I can get on with everyday life."
Her first pregnancy wasn't without problems either - she suffered nausea and bad water retention. "I think more women should be honest about the fact that although having a baby is wonderful, it can be hard. It's a massive body change and life change and comes with a whole wave of emotions. Just because I'm in the public eye doesn't mean I escape any of that."
One unexpected bonus of motherhood has been a new perspective for the performer who in 2012 bravely stepped into the spotlight to open up about her battle with depression, after taking some time out from The Saturdays because of an undisclosed illness.
"I spoke up about my difficulties with anxiety and depression to try to help change people's view of those problems and improve understanding. You need to be brave about doing it because you know you'll get negative stuff aimed at you by ignorant people, and I did, but it's all about toughening up and rising above that. It was worth it," she says happily.
"Becoming a mum has been quite transformational for me. My focus is Parker and I think it's taken the focus away from a lot of things I maybe worried about before. Even though I have the normal worries of any first-time mum, I'm much more laid-back about parenting than I thought I'd be. It's helped me chill out."
Her relationship with Wayne, 34, - the couple married last summer when she changed her name from Sandford - has also clearly been key in her contentment and he supported her when she was treated for depression in 2011. "I knew as soon as I met him five years ago that he was different from anyone else I'd ever met and I told my friends there was nothing about him I wanted to change. I just felt very confident and comfortable with him and knew that whatever was thrown at us, we could figure everything out."
Her higher profile's led to another solo role, teaming up with Superdrug and P&G FeelSuper with the aim of raising at least £100,000 for Marie Cure, the charity providing nursing and support for those with terminal illness. "It's great that buying things which make you feel good about yourself can help such a worthy cause," she says.
"That part of having a celebrity profile makes me very happy because it can be so worthwhile and help to give something back. There's nothing nicer than that."
Frankie Bridge is supporting the Superdrug and P&G FeelSuper Campaign to raise £100,000 for Marie Curie. Until May 5, every time you buy any P&G product including brands Max Factor, Olay, Gillette, Oral B and more from Superdrug, a donation goes to Marie Curie and after that date products bearing the Marie Cure logo will also donate. Visitsuperdrug.com/feelsuper