ON STAGE | with Natalie Chick
DANCE and ACTING - Natalie got the essence of what one would like to know. She has been very generous in sharing her life, a happy one, and her improvisation through life, work and maternity. Thank you, may you be a role model for the next mums on stage to be!
An image from a job that Ted & I did when he was 8 weeks old
Tell us about you. where were you born? what you do? where do you work and live?
My professional name is Natalie Chick, but my married name is Natalie Stow. I was born in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire in 1984. I still live in Hemel Hempstead with my husband Jack and our son Edward (Ted). I have been a professional dancer since I graduated from The Urdang Academy at 19. I am now exploring more acting work because in dance terms I am pretty ancient! Recently my work has mostly been in London or the Home Counties but I have previously worked all over Europe.
When did you start thinking ‘I am ready to be a mum’?
I always knew that I wanted a family but I wanted to fulfil some career and life goals first. I am fortunate enough to have achieved a lot of my goals and felt ready to take a step back in order to start a family.
My husband and I got married in 2014 after 13 years of dating and wanted to enjoy a bit of time as just husband and wife before trying for our first baby. I decided that I would like to be as fit and strong as I could be before becoming pregnant so I ran the Paris marathon in 2015. My thinking behind it was that if I can get through that then I will be able to get through the marathon that is pregnancy!
A photo from a showgirl gig in December
When did you find out you were expecting and how old were you?
I was 31 when I became pregnant.
How long did you work for during your pregnancy and after how long did you start to work again?
I didn't do very much dancing work during my pregnancy. I did do some acting work but mostly during the first half of my pregnancy when my bump wasn't noticeable. Although I had one acting job at 38 weeks pregnant when I played the pregnant wife of a politician.
A selfie from when I played the pregnant wife of a politician
I also work as a hostess at sporting events and worked at the Rugby World Cup during the early stages of my pregnancy and ad-hoc at Wembley, Tottenham and Arsenal stadiums up until around 30 weeks pregnant.
And how much control did you have over when you stopped working and started again? Did you get maternity pay?
My performing jobs seemed to come to a natural stop during my pregnancy but obviously I still needed to earn some money so I had a office temp job for a company in my home town for a few weeks before I went on maternity leave. I received the government maternity pay as I am self employed.
Did you have plans in place for your return to work?
When I felt that I was ready to return to work I contacted some of my agents and companies that I work for just to let them know that I was interested in being considered for forthcoming work.
Pregnancy, birth and postnatal experience: training, shows and feelings.
-What you did and how you managed, who helped and how?
During my pregnancy I tried to keep active by swimming and walking which I feel definitely contributed to me having a smooth and healthy pregnancy. My husband is a great cook and makes sure that I always eat correctly. On the whole I am very fortunate to have had a very enjoyable pregnancy.
-What were your thoughts about work and did you have something planned, did you stop, for how long?
Being a self-employed freelancer makes it quite difficult to plan work too far ahead but I knew I would have to stop for a few months while my baby was very small and also to give my body time to recover. I breastfed exclusively for 6 months so I couldn't leave him for more then a couple of hours at a time, but he can now drink from a sippy cup and eats solids which allows me a bit more independence.
-After the birth of your baby (babies) did something change towards how you were thinking about work or when to go back?
The job has to be financially worthwhile for me to consider it and it also has to work with us as a family.
How much support did you have for combining motherhood with work? (From partners, parents, friends, collegues, society, government institutions etc.)
My husband works but has some days off in the week so I try to fit work around these days. He has been hugely supportive not just with work but with everything. Both mine and my husbands family live near by and have helped with childcare. I know that Ted is in safe hands with them! We did an NCT course and I still keep in touch with the group. I also have some wonderful girlfriends who have been very helpful with advice. Not many of my performing friends have continued to perform after having children so I don't have many role models in that respect.
If you feel you could have used more support/ less interfering, what would you have wanted?
I feel I have been very fortunate to have a support network close to home as it would have been quite difficult for me to return to work otherwise. Childcare is incredibly expensive and not always particularly flexible. I would like to send Ted to some childcare when he is a bit older but I don't want it to eat all the profit that I make.