TV and film star Bronagh Waugh will be marking a special Mother's Day today as she prepares for the birth of her first baby.
On International Woman's Day on Monday, the Coleraine actress announced she was pregnant with her first child with her husband Richard Peacock with an empowering phootshoot.
She wrote: "Over lockdown I've been busy preparing for my next role (spoiler alert: it's pretty major - I'm going to be a ma!)."
The 38-year-old, who is set to appear in new ITV show Viewpoint with Noel Clarke, opened up to Sunday Life on Mother's Day about how she feels to be expecting, why she waited until seven and a half months to announce her happy news and her plans to make sure her child embraces their Northern Irish roots.
She also revealed she and her husband had to spend five months of the pregnancy apart while she was in a filming bubble.
Bronagh said: "I'd left it so long to announce because it felt like Covid was so bad at Christmas and January.
"It didn't feel appropriate to say something then when people were going through such terrible, terrible times and losing family members.
"But then I'd left it so long and I'm seven and a half months pregnant and being recognised in the hospital when I have my scans. I thought, 'Oh my God, someone's going to say something on social media and all my friends in Belfast I haven't told are going to hear my news from Aaron from Croydon on Twitter'.
"I thought I needed to say something and International Woman's Day was the perfect day to announce it because I do so much campaigning for women and feminism and reproductive rights and will also raise awareness for Alliance for Choice.
"I've done shoots where I've felt a bit awkward and not that body-confident. I just wanted to do something where I felt really in control and empowered.
"The photographer was amazing. He understood I felt tucked away in this wee flat with my bump, but he captured how I felt empowered and beautiful.
"I am quite shocked and surprised by how body-confident I feel, even though I am massively pregnant. I just feel very powerful, like I'm growing a human. We are such powerful, incredible beings that we can grow life inside ourselves.
"None of my family have seen my bump and that's part of why I wanted to do the shoot.
"It doesn't feel real that I'm pregnant because I haven't seen anybody, apart from my husband, so it felt like it was a nice way for my family to see and my friends to see it."
While she was concerned about Covid-19, Bronagh, who previously appeared in Unforgotten, Des and The Fall, admitted she was terrified the pregnancy would have an impact on her career as well.
But she had no need to be nervous because the producers and casting directors had no issue whatsoever.
"I just was a bit worried and concerned about how it would affect me with work. Basically, apart from the first three weeks of shooting Viewpoint, I've been pregnant," she explained.
"I did the first four and a half months of the pregnancy filming Viewpoint in Manchester.
"I was very nervous about telling the producers because I was thinking - and I'm sure it's not just actors, I'm sure every profession is like this - 'Oh my God, I'm going to get fired. I'm not going to get work anymore. I'll be pushed to the bottom of the pile'.
"But that wasn't the case as work has been going so good for me. I've been so busy and I shouldn't have maybe worried too much because, certainly, with what I've dealt with so far producers and casting directors and staff have been amazing."
Pregnancy should be a special time for a woman spending it with their family, but because of the pandemic Bronagh wasn't just deprived of her beloved parents and friends but even her husband as she had to live in a bubble with her Viewpoint co-stars. "It was difficult being away from Rich as we were in filming bubbles and it was very strict. Not being around my mum and my family and stuff... the first five months of pregnancy I basically did on my own, apart from the cast. I told them quite early on," she said.
"Rich said, 'I think you should tell your castmates so that you've got some support'. I told Noel and Fehinti Balogun and Alexandra Roach. They were just amazing. Noel was so protective over me. He's got three kids and I can't sing his praises enough. He was just absolutely wonderful. He would say, 'Uncle Noel's got to look after you'.
"The producers were amazing. They kept me so safe with Covid. They put extra measures in place and I felt so safe.
"I think the hardest thing was the tiredness at the beginning. The days shooting are just really, really long.
"We were having half five pick-up calls in the morning and you're working until six or seven at night, so I was just like, 'Anytime I can find somewhere to have a nap or a lie down...'. But I'm lucky because it was nothing compared to what other friends have had.
"Filming in a bubble meant we could interact with people more than you can in public in lockdown. I could hug Noel, so that made a really big difference because you're quite emotional with those loads of hormones. It was really nice to have those friendships. I've gone through something really special with them and I think they will remain special friends in my life."
Her bubble allowed her "a fairly normal life" during filming, but she has felt lonely with not being able to return to her beloved Northern Ireland, which she regularly visited before lockdown.
"I feel really privileged because throughout the end of the summer and the autumn last year I was able to live a kind of fairly normal life in that bubble," she said.
"When I got back to London after I finished at Christmas time, the shock hit me. I was like, 'Oh, I can't see people. I can't interact with people'.
"It's been quite lonely and quite difficult because I couldn't get home to Northern Ireland. I was stuck in London in tier four and it scuppered my plans to get back to be with my family.
"I've done the whole pregnancy without seeing my family, which is surreal. That's really that's the hardest part. Physical-wise and feeling-wise, I felt really good and healthy and well.
"I thought I'd be one of the women that's like, 'Oh my god, it's so awful', but it felt really good and really strong and really positive. But it's been so hard not being home to Belfast. It's been 15 months now. I feel like I'm counting the weeks. Every week, it's another week. It's been heartbreaking.
"I'm due mid-May and that's when we are allowed to have overnight stays. The timing is good for summer and as soon as I can I'll be back to Northern Ireland with the baby."
Bronagh has vowed to bring her child back home as frequently as possible because she will be raising him or her in England. She is also considering giving the baby an Irish name.
"This is something that has been a huge talking point with my husband. It's a major concern for me," she revealed.
"I would say to him, 'I don't think you understand how serious it is that our child is going to have an English accent'. Luckily, my mum lives here in England and she'll be helping me a lot with childcare, so we will just be constantly pronouncing our vowels at the baby to copy what we're saying.
"I'll do everything I can to try and give the baby as much heritage of Northern Irish heritage as I can. I'll no doubt pick an Irish name and no doubt teach as much of our language and culture as possible because it does pain me and Rich loves to tease me about it."