WRAPPED in the cosiest of throws, Mrs Hinch curls up on her Insta-famous grey velvet sofa.
Despite her protests to the contrary, she looks radiant; pregnancy suits her.
Sophie Hinchliffe, also known as Mrs Hinch, is due her second baby in late springCredit: Rachell Smith/Camera Press
“I’m living off jacket potatoes and Weetabix!” she laughs. “I had exactly the same cravings last time. Pregnancy is so strange, isn’t it?”
It also sometimes takes you by surprise…
“It’s all been quite a shock because it happened sooner than we expected it to and so I was already a couple of months’ gone by the time we found out.
“Just like last time, it was my mum who noticed. She was watching my Insta Stories and said: ‘Soph, go and do a pregnancy test… there’s something there.’
Sophie is appreciating the thus far uneventful nature of this pregnancyCredit: Rachell Smith/Camera Press
“I was like: ‘Oh gosh, Mum, not again!’ But yep, she was absolutely right.”
Sophie Hinchliffe, the woman behind the Mrs Hinch phenomenon and the world’s most influential cleaning account, is due her second baby in late spring – her New Year post announcing the news garnered nearly 1.5 million likes on Instagram.
And although understandably nervous about a pandemic pregnancy, she’s appreciating the thus far uneventful nature of this one, especially considering the complications she experienced while expecting Ronnie, now 20 months.
“With Ron it almost got to the point where I was in hospital more than I wasn’t,” she says.
Sophie’s New Year post announcing her pregnancy garnered nearly 1.5 million likes on InstagramCredit: Instagram/Mrs Hinch
“So I’m just so grateful for a pregnancy that I’m quite enjoying, instead of being in a lot of pain and worrying all the time.
“Obviously I’m worrying about different things, like Covid, and the vibe is very different this time understandably, but generally I can’t complain one little bit.”
With Ronnie, Sophie suffered a series of painful attacks in her back and groin, which eventually caused her to collapse and be rushed to hospital.
She also had emergency surgery under general anaesthetic at seven months pregnant to move her inactive but displaced gastric band, which was causing a blockage.
With this baby, I’ll be a lot more open from day one because my followers know now
Because of all this and a blood disorder that makes her prone to clotting, Sophie, 30, is being closely monitored to ensure there’s no repeat.
“I’m following strict instructions and doing the best I can to be sure everything’s OK. Touch wood, it all seems fine.
“I do worry about getting a blood clot because I know my stents are there, but I think that’s normal for anyone who has a condition they can’t control. You learn to live with it.”
She’s feeling calmer about what lies ahead once the baby is here, too.
Sophie’s husband Jamie was caught off-guard by her distress during her last pregnancyCredit: Instagram/Mrs Hinch
In her bestselling memoir This Is Me, released last autumn, she bravely opened up for the first time about her emotional struggle during the early months of motherhood.
Although she stopped short of labelling it postnatal depression, Sophie certainly found herself in a state of despair and spiralling, questioning her abilities as a mother and, heartbreakingly, wondering whether Ronnie deserved better.
“I wish I’d got help sooner,” she says today.
“Most days I was like: ‘Who am I?’ I didn’t know what I was doing and I’m not going to lie and say it was all roses and a beautiful experience from start to finish, because it bloody wasn’t.”
Sophie, pictured with cocker spaniel Henry, is mum to 20-month-old RonnieCredit: Instagram/Mrs Hinch
Sharing that pain in the book was something Sophie thought long and hard about. It was deeply personal and, up until then, she’d dealt with it all privately.
But now that it’s out in the open, she feels “like a weight has lifted” and says that chapter has been, overwhelmingly, the one readers have responded to most.
“The amount of people who said they related to that chapter more than anything made me realise that I’m not a bad person for feeling what I felt.
“I’m not ashamed. So many people messaged me to say ‘because of you I’ve contacted my GP’ or ‘after reading your book I got help and now I feel so happy in myself’ which, for me, is unbelievable.
Ronnie can’t wait to be a big brotherCredit: Instagram/Mrs Hinch
“I never spoke about it at the time because it felt a little bit like it would come across as attention-seeking and I also worried about bringing other people down.
“I didn’t make out everything was perfect… instead I just didn’t say anything at all. But now I will talk about it all day long if that is what’s needed to make people reach out.
“With this baby, I’ll be a lot more open from day one because my followers know now. They know exactly how it was and how I felt.”
This time, she will recognise the warning signs and won’t be afraid to ask for help. In fact, she already has a support team in place and just knowing they’re there is an enormous comfort.
‘CHANGED MY LIFE’
“The NHS are amazing and I know there is someone I can talk to,” she says.
“I’m still on antidepressants and they’re keeping a close eye on that to make sure things are balanced.
“The midwife came round to check my bloods recently and asked me about my medication, the dosage and how I’m feeling on it and she followed up with a call to double-check. The help is there and they genuinely care.
“Having that support and knowing it’s there really has changed my life, it’s changed how I feel about everything.
You can get all the advice and read as much as you like. Nothing quite prepares you for the real thing!
“I’m more prepared this time, I know to expect the hormone drop and I will be honest with myself and ask for help if I need it.”
Husband Jamie, 42, who was caught off-guard by Sophie’s distress last time, is ready to catch her if she starts falling.
“He gets it now,” she says. “He didn’t understand it back then. At the beginning he was like: ‘Just snap out of it,’ and I was like: ‘I can’t!’ Or he’d ask why I was crying, but I couldn’t answer him because I didn’t know.
“It will be different this time and I’m actually excited to see how we manage it all together.
Sophie bravely opened up for the first time about her emotional struggle during the early months of motherhood in her memoirCredit: Instagram/Mrs Hinch
“I mean, when Ronnie was born neither of us knew what we were doing really. You can get all the advice and read as much as you like. Nothing quite prepares you for the real thing!
“We’re both looking forward to putting into practice what we’ve learned with Ron and enjoying the bits we used to be nervous wrecks about. We’ve promised each other that.
“I think I will be more relaxed. I hope so.”
It’s been three years since Essex housewife Sophie started her @MrsHinchHome Insta account, which she originally set up to share cleaning tips (Sophie uses cleaning as a way of keeping her anxiety at bay) and find interiors inspiration.
It’s been three years since Sophie started her @MrsHinchHome Insta account, which she originally set up to share cleaning tips
It took off like a rocket and in that time she’s picked up a staggering 3.9 million followers – her Hinchers – and has brands queuing up to work with her.
Any product she endorses is guaranteed sales through the roof, although she remains fiercely loyal to the ones she’s always used and loved.
Her four books have all topped the bestseller lists, shifting well over a million copies, and as her profile has soared, her platform has evolved from shining sinks and “pining” her toilet to become much more focused on Sophie herself and family life with Jamie, Ronnie and cocker spaniel Henry, the most human dog you’ll ever meet.
The heartfelt DMs she often shares from followers show how much she means to them and she says the feeling is mutual. Their support proved vital during lockdown.
Sophie heartbreakingly found herself wondering whether Ronnie deserved better in the early months of motherhoodCredit: instagram
“I don’t know what I would have done without my followers through this, just to have a cuppa and clean with.
“I’ve really needed my Instagram and I know for a lot of us, we have helped each other through it all.”
But this wasn’t something she planned for and while Sophie’s learning to roll with it, none of it sits entirely comfortably with her.
As someone who is naturally shy, self-conscious and battles anxiety on a daily basis, the last place Sophie wanted to be is at the centre of attention – she jokes that she’s the “worst person for this to happen to” although that vulnerability is also a part of her charm.
“This definitely wasn’t the plan,” she says.
“Getting 1.5 million likes on my pregnancy announcement, that’s not even normal is it? I can’t get over that that many people saw my picture, let alone liked it.
“My phone switched itself off. It literally went: ‘I can’t cope with this.’ Speechless.
“It’s a journey and me and Jamie are enjoying it the best we can. I mean, it’s a story to tell the grandkids isn’t it? You know: ‘Sit down and let me tell you all about Mrs Hinch!’”
For anything nasty, there are hundreds and thousands of positives, which is incredible. That’s what I try to focus on
This unexpected career may have made former sales rep and hairdresser Sophie more financially comfortable than she could have imagined, but there has also been a dark side to social media fame.
The trolling she’s been subjected to left her so broken that this time last year she was put on antidepressants. In her book she details the impact the abuse has had on her life.
“I really wanted to discuss the intensity of it because I don’t address it on my Stories,” she says.
“So it was a release to do that but… You know what? My followers help me bat back any negativity I might have seen.
Sophie’s profile has shifted to become much more focused on Sophie herself and family life with Jamie, Ronnie and cocker spaniel HenryCredit: Instagram
“For anything nasty, there are hundreds and thousands of positives, which is incredible. That’s what I try to focus on.”
She tries to take days off, which involve switching off her phone and “logging off” from the ’Gram, but she worries that people will think she’s “being rude.”
A recent tactic that helps her draw a line between Mrs Hinch and her personal life is to have two phones – one for her Insta account and one for family and close friends.
It helps her feel “less claustrophobic” because she often feels the weight of responsibility that comes with being Mrs Hinch.
The trolling Sophie’s been subjected to left her so broken that this time last year she was put on antidepressantsCredit: Instagram/Mrs Hinch
However, she confides that, actually, she’s logged into her Mrs Hinch account on the private phone as well because she misses her followers if she’s away from them for too long.
“I think that first hit me when I was pregnant with Ron and thought about going on maternity leave.
“Then I was like: ‘Hang on a minute… It’s not like I can bring someone else in to do all my Instagram Stories while I’m off, can I?”
“I don’t like calling myself a brand because I’m a person, but technically I am the face of and the person behind any brands that may come from this amazing journey, which feels really weird to say.
Sophie often feels the weight of responsibility that comes with being Mrs HinchCredit: mrshinchhome/Instagram
“I do all my own filming and editing; it’s just me and my phone. I have about 500 photos of cloths on there I really need to delete!”
She adds: “My followers tell me: ‘Soph, you need to take a day off this week!’ They’re like my mum and aunties telling me to stop. What an amazing community.
“Even my mum says: ‘You have millions of mums now, you don’t need me!’ She sees the love.”
Another recent change followers might have noticed is that she’s a lot more present as herself.
‘BACK TO BASICS’
The much-loved “Gretel” filter she often used to mask her face when talking to camera was deleted without warning by Snapchat last year.
“I did ask Snapchat to bring Gretel back. I was like: ‘Please, I need her!’ But she’s gone. And maybe everything happens for a reason.
“I found a similar one who does the trick if I’m having a bit of a wobble, but she’s not quite Gretel. I am trying, I am getting better.
“When I started my Instagram I’d come on and have a laugh and a chat – I’m back there now and that’s what I am happy with.
If anyone has said that their partner doesn’t get on their wick from time to time they’d be lying
“I’ve stripped it back to how I was at the beginning, that’s how I got here. I’ve gone back to basics and am a lot happier for it.”
Throughout the unstoppable rise of Mrs Hinch, Jamie has been by her side and is now on an extended sabbatical from his job as a sales manager in order to support Sophie full-time.
He has built up quite a following himself and his account complements hers perfectly, sharing pride in his wife but also offering a sideways glance at some of her quirkier quirks.
“He takes the mick out of me and I like a bit of banter,” she says.
Sophie tries to take days off, which involve switching off her phone and ‘logging off’ from the ’GramCredit: Rex Features
Sophie and Jamie were already used to living in each other’s pockets before lockdown so it’s not been as big a test on the relationship as it might have been. But she says they’ve had their moments.
“We’re usually so busy doing our own thing that even though we’re in the same house we can go hours without crossing paths.
“Don’t get me wrong, there have been days where I’ve thought: ‘Just get out my hair, get out the house!’ I actually found myself doing that the other day.
“I went outside and sorted the garage because it was a bit of ‘me’ time. That’s what it’s come to. Sorting out the garage is a treat!
Sophie and Jamie were already used to living in each other’s pockets before lockdownCredit: Instagram
“If anyone has said that their partner doesn’t get on their wick from time to time they’d be lying. But the truth is, I couldn’t do this without him.
“He loves being involved with it all, he loves to work hard and he knows more of the business side of things than I do. He’s a lot more involved than people realise.”
Jamie was able to attend the first scan but Covid restrictions mean Sophie has gone to most hospital appointments alone. For someone who needs reassurance, she’s not found it easy.
“The atmosphere at the hospital, even just waiting to go in, feels like a film. People seem afraid to talk to each other, everyone’s so far apart that it’s almost like we are distancing ourselves emotionally as well as physically.
Covid restrictions mean Sophie has gone to most hospital appointments for her pregnancy aloneCredit: Instagram/mrshinch
“I’ve barely stepped out the house these past few months, but it hit me when I sat in that waiting room and it sent my nerves through the roof.”
She says she was ready to walk out, but instead shared those feelings on Instagram, received a tidal wave of support and no longer felt alone.
“My feelings inside and my whole Instagram are so different since my book. It’s one of the best things I’ve done.
“My followers don’t want to see perfection every day and that is a relief. I don’t have to try and keep up with anything or live up to that.
“This community we have is not judgemental and I’m so pleased I’m part of it.”
She needs them as much as they need her?
“That’s so true,” she says. “I know this is so cheese on toast, but we are in this together.”
In the make-up chair with Mrs Hinch
What skincare products do you swear by?
Garnier Micellar Rose Water and Garnier Micellar Reusable Eco Pads. At night, I use Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex.
Your make-up bag essentials?
Bobbi Brown Vitamin-Enriched Face Base, Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup with a bit of Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter underneath.
Which product do you never leave home without?
Hand sanitiser and whatever lip combination I’m wearing that day!
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.
A Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer. I remember closing my eyes when I hit “buy”, but I love it. I think it’s a worthwhile investment.
Maybelline Instant Anti-Age Eraser Concealer. It’s been a staple of mine for years!
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