For EastEnders actress Louisa Lytton and her fiancé Ben Bhanvra, becoming parents has been more magical than they ever could have imagined. The pair have taken to parenthood like ducks to water, and it’s safe to say they’re absolutely smitten with their beautiful baby girl.
Aura Olivia Bhanvra was welcomed into the world on 30 August at 11.09am at Barnet Hospital weighing 6lbs 5oz. Here, the couple introduce their beautiful daughter – and tell all on her dramatic arrival!
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Sporting a full head of dark hair, she instantly stole her parents’ hearts, with Louisa, 32, who plays Ruby Allen on the BBC One soap, describing it as the “best moment of my entire life”.
“The emotion when we finally got to that point was like nothing else,” adds Ben, 30, who works in digital marketing.
The lead up to Aura’s arrival was far from easy, with Louisa having to endure a three-day labour before doctors decided it was safest she undergo an emergency C-section. But the star admits the experience has brought herself and Ben “even closer together”. “Plus, it’s definitely made me appreciate my body more. It’s an absolute miracle,” she adds.
Here, Louisa and Ben exclusively introduce Aura to OK! and open up on her emotional arrival and which of Louisa’s Albert Square co-stars made her a very special gift…
Congratulations both! How are you enjoying parenthood?
Louisa: It’s just the best. The time is going so fast, I can’t bear it. I don’t want to jinx ourselves but it feels like we’ve relaxed into it. Obviously we’re exhausted but it feels like it’s coming quite naturally. We couldn’t really ask for anything more.
Ben: I really am loving it. I didn’t realise how much I’d get into it.
Louisa: Ben might even give up work at some point! He wants to do daddy day care.
Ben: The thought of not being with her, I’d be rushing back! Luckily I can work from home for a bit.
Louisa: I feel like he’ll never go to the office again! I’ve been walking over to my mum’s as she’s not far and 10 minutes later the doorbell goes and Ben is there! I’m like, “Oh my God, leave us alone!” [Laughs].
How did you feel when you found out you’d had a little girl?
Louisa: We were so happy. I was over the moon if I’m honest.
Were you secretly hoping for a girl then?
Louisa: Yeah, I sort of always wanted a girl. I used to say to Ben, “If this isn’t a girl then I’ll be going again!” It was the best surprise!
Ben: The emotion when we finally got to that point was like nothing else.
Tell us about her name…
Louisa: She’s Aura and her middle name is Olivia as that was my nan’s middle name. People keep asking us where Aura came from but we don’t really know. It was on our list. We just both loved the name and we don’t know anyone else with it. We wanted something quite different but not really out there and something that will carry her through every stage of her life.
How was the birth?
Louisa: She was a few days early but after my contractions started she really took her time. I was in labour for three days and I ended up having an emergency C-section. Clearly she’s going to be very dramatic like her mum!
Ben: She’s probably going to be an actress. She’s so expressive with her hands!
Louisa: The birth wasn’t what I planned. I really wanted a water birth and we did a hypnobirthing course, but at the same time I wasn’t married to the idea because I know sometimes it doesn’t go to plan, so I was open to whatever was safest. A few people have said to me, “I bet you wish you just had a caesarean to start with,” but I don’t really because I tried and I did my best but it just wasn’t going to happen for me.
Did your waters break at home, Louisa?
Louisa: No, they had to break them in the hospital, but I laboured at home for 14 hours before going in.
Ben: I was outside planting a hedge when Louisa’s contractions started…
Louisa: I left it a few hours and then I called the hospital and they said once your contractions are between a certain time to come in. But once I went in it just went on for too long with nothing happening so they had to do a section, but she was fine and that’s all that mattered.
What was it like being in labour for three days?
To be honest I don’t really remember much of it. I was absolutely exhausted and so much is happening to you. I was on gas and air for a lot of it and that’s all I know! [laughs].
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Was it scary when they said you needed an emergency C-section?
It was. I was at Barnet Hospital and I have to say they were amazing throughout. I think by the time it got to the section, because it wasn’t something I ever planned to have, naturally you do panic. But at the same time part of you is so excited because you know they’ll be here any moment. But you’re exhausted and you can’t think logically, especially when you’ve been up for three days. I was overwhelmed, but the moment I heard her cry it all went away. They held her up and she cried straight away. It was the best moment of my entire life.
Did either of you cry when she arrived?
Louisa: We were sobbing! It was such an ordeal to get her there that by the time she was there we were just so relieved. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. I cried for like two days afterwards [laughs]. I couldn’t believe she was here.
What was the birth like for you, Ben?
Ben: It’s really hard because Louisa was in so much pain and there’s not much you can do apart from being supportive and talking about what we were working towards. It was tough but I just tried to stay positive and then it was worth it by the time we got to the end because it was amazing.
Louisa: I’ve got to say he really was amazing. I’ve got friends whose partners have fainted, so the fact Ben was standing up for three days helping to get me through was incredible! It definitely brings you even closer together because it’s an experience like no other.
How is she sleeping?
Louisa: I’m breastfeeding so every few hours I’m feeding her at the moment. Ben will have her for a few hours so I can go and sleep because, naturally, every noise she makes I jump up. She latched on pretty much straight away in the hospital. I really like it in the night when it’s just me and her. It’s all quiet and it’s quite a special alone time with her which I really like. I haven’t thought how long I’m going to breastfeed for, I’m just going to take it day by day and see how long we can go with it.
Louisa, when you were pregnant you said there were times when you hated your body and
the changes it was going through. How do you feel now?
It’s so funny because now it’s done I think, “Why was I so hard on myself? Why did I feel that way?” But I’m not going to beat myself up for that because that is how I felt at the time. It is important to speak about it because some women really do struggle with that. Looking back I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself because it’s all worth it in the end. It’s definitely made me appreciate my body more. It’s an absolute miracle. It’s amazing what our bodies do.
How has your puppy Riley been with Aura?
Louisa: He’s been really good. I was really nervous and it was something I was quite tense about because I didn’t know what a dog would be like around a newborn and he was the apple of our eye. So to bring someone else into his world, we did feel sorry for him, but he’s taken to it really well. We’re having to split our time between the baby and the dog.
Ben: Yeah, he’s so protective over her. When he comes over to her he sniffs her body and then licks her feet. At first he was crying when she was crying in the night as he worried about her.
Have you had lots of congratulations messages from your EastEnders co-stars, Louisa?
Louisa: Yes, loads. Gillian Wright who plays Jean made Aura the most amazing blanket that she handmade with her name on. That was so kind! And Lacey [Turner], James [Bye] and Nat [Cassidy] have all be in touch and they’re excited to come and meet her at some point.
Before she was born you were not in a rush to return to work. Now she’s here, how do you feel?
Louisa: I’ve said I’m going to give myself up until Christmas to just be home and she’ll be four months by then. Then I’ll see how I feel and what comes up. That’s the beauty of what I do, I don’t have a set return date back to work.
What’s the latest with your wedding plans?
Louisa: We want to get married next year. We’re planning to have it abroad and we’re going to do something smaller than we original planned. It will be different now she’s here. We’re a family now, it might not be as wild as it was going to be! But we can’t wait to get married.
Did you decide to do something smaller because of Aura or Covid?
Well, everything we were going to put into the wedding we then ended up buying a house with, so that changed everything for us. And now I’ve had a baby, I’m not working and there’s no maternity pay, so it’s just changed our priorities about what sort of day we imagined we would have. But everyone is so supportive and understands that we’re going to do something smaller and a bit different. We basically just can’t do what we originally planned, but it’s fine because look at what we have now.
Absolutely! How does it feel to picture your wedding now that Aura is here?
Louisa: The thought of her walking down the aisle, we always talk about it. It will be so cute. It’s amazing to know she’ll now be at our wedding. The whole day will now be about her and not us!
And finally, would you like more babies or are you happy with one?
Louisa: I’m an only child so I’ve said I’d like more than one and Ben definitely does. Ben has two siblings so he’s always said three or four, although I don’t think that’s going to happen! [laughs].
Ben: We’d definitely like another one at some point but we’re not thinking about that just yet!
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