"I've been eating a lot. All day long," Melanie Brown says. The singer-songwriter who shot to international stardom in the mid-'90s as "Scary Spice," the edgy, big-haired member of the best-selling, award-winning British pop group the Spice Girls, is expecting her third child and sharing a common mom-to-be confession. "I don't stop. I eat when I want and what I want."
Stopping is something the 35-year-old Brown, commonly referred to as Mel B, seems nearly incapable of doing. Since embarking on a solo career in 2001, she has released two albums, written a best-selling autobiography, appeared as Mimi in the Broadway production of Rent, won the hearts of fans on the fifth season of Dancing With the Stars, hosted the second season of Oxygen's hit weight-loss show Dance Your Ass Off, and starred in her own reality series, Mel B: It's a Scary World, on the Style Network. Her next big venture, set to start this August: appearing as a judge on the pop-star search competition The X Factor Australia.
And then, there's a new baby about to arrive. Brown's due to give birth to her first baby with husband Stephen Belafonte in August and, now in her third trimester, sees here-and-there indulgences as one of the best parts of pregnancy.
"I was like this with my last two pregnancies, too," says Brown, already the proud mom of daughters Phoenix, 12, and Angel, 4 (both from previous relationships) as well as stepmom to Belafonte's 7-year-old daughter, Giselle. "When I'm really into my fitness routine, I eat super clean, super protein, super organic -- super, super healthy. But since I've been pregnant, I kind of indulge in the things I wouldn't usually indulge in," she says, like the occasional burger or pizza.
What the Los Angeles resident has been eating a lot of: Belafonte's home-cooked meals. "I'm married to a good cook who cooks really healthy -- well, mainly healthy -- food," says Brown, laughing. "Yesterday, he came home and whipped up chicken and vegetables in this amazing curry sauce. I've got my own gourmet chef on hand, so I'm very lucky."
Mel B's Pregnant Body
The devout fitness enthusiast was working out an hour a day prior to her pregnancy. But the high-energy cardio junkie hasn't had a single date with the treadmill since revealing her newest baby bump.
"For the first four months, I felt really sick -- I was just trying to get through the day without actually throwing up, so I haven't really worked out since I've been pregnant," says Brown, who normally gravitates toward a mix of heart-pumping workouts like indoor cycling, boot camp, and hiking. "It was strange because, with my last two pregnancies, I never had morning sickness. So it was a bit shocking, to say the least. But I'm finally getting out of that phase and starting to feel good."
Despite being a little more curvaceous than she's used to, Brown, who tantalized audiences with her burlesque act, Peep Show, at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas in 2009 and who's currently the face of the U.K. negligee line Ultimo Lingerie, hasn't lost her body confidence. "I don't mind if sometimes I'm curvier and sometimes I'm more ripped. I enjoy all the different phases," Brown says. "Don't get me wrong: Sometimes it can get uncomfortable when you're pregnant and you don't feel sexy because everything is swollen and a bit tender. Everyone has her up and down days. But it's just about making the most of the situation that you're in. Being pregnant is a beautiful thing."
Mel B on Being a Mom
There are many reasons Brown, who does everything from cooking and playing Scrabble with her little ones to carting them to the Kids' Choice Awards, loves being a mom. "It teaches you not to focus on yourself. And you have an instant, built-in 'truth panel,'" she says. "Your kids will tell you exactly what they think of you or if they're upset. It's a big responsibility, but fantastic. It sort of makes you grow up and appreciate what you have and where you are in your life."
Have the responsibilities of motherhood slowed the jet-setting star? "I have a 12-year-old, so I really can't imagine life without kids," says Brown, who compares the last Spice Girls tour in 2007 to a "traveling circus." "I had Angel and Phoenix with us and all of the other girls had their kids with us, too." She laughs, then turns serious. "I guess, before kids, I could just pick up and leave whenever I wanted to, but now I pretty much do that anyway: I just bring my kids."
Brown does, however, admit that kids make life more stable. "With Phoenix in school, you can't just take off for a month at a time without considering school and homework, and you want to make sure your kids have a certain amount of consistency. But I've always said that kids should enhance your life, not hinder your life. So I just try to make the most out of being with my kids. You have to have a life for yourself somewhere in the mix of being a wife and mum.
"It's a juggling act," Brown adds."I juggle stuff on a weekly basis, between time by myself, time with my husband, and good, well-spent time with the kids. I do that every single week and if I didn't, I think I would go insane. I just do it week-by-week, and it somehow manages to get done."
'With the Second and Third Baby…You're More Relaxed'
As for whether she's having a boy or girl, Brown is letting herself enjoy the anticipation. "I didn't know with Phoenix or Angel, and I don't know with this baby. There are so many things you have to be prepared for that I think it's nice to have a little bit of surprise. As long as the baby is healthy, I mean, who cares?"
Brown's attitude toward pregnancy hasn't always been so happy-go-lucky. Like most moms, she's mellowed over the years. "With your first baby, you watch all the shows, you read all the books -- you kind of terrify yourself because you realize how many things can go wrong. You over-research it. It isn't a bad thing, but it makes you a little bit nervous, which is what I did with Phoenix. But with the second and third baby, you're a bit more of an old hat. You're more relaxed about everything."
While many women are feeling the pressure to embrace more natural birth options, Brown is content to take the comfortable route and isn't afraid to say so. "I experienced a lot of pain with my first delivery 12 years ago, so I'm going to opt for as little pain as possible and have an epidural."
The same goes for breastfeeding. If she can do it, as she did with her first two babies, great. If not, well, life will go on. "It is extra-special to breastfeed and it is really healthy [for the baby], but not every woman can do it. I hope I'm able to, but if you can't you can still get that connection by feeding your baby with a bottle. It's not as intimate, but you can still get that bonding."
As for what's next: In addition to prepping the nursery and preparing for her trip Down Under, Brown's working on her third solo album. "I like to stay creative," she says. "I like working." She's also looking forward to the debut of the Spice Girls' Broadway musical, Viva Forever, which will feature many of the group's songs.
For now, appreciating the moment is front and center. The mere state of being pregnant brings her great happiness. "Simply being able to have a baby growing inside you, to feel all that joy and the flickerin' and the kickin' ... you're able to really wrap your head around how great Mother Nature can actually be," she says fondly.
Mel B's Top 5 Tips for Enjoying Pregnancy
Write it down. "Keep a diary and try to enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible," says Brown, who's kept a journal since she was young. "You won't believe how quickly the time goes."
Wear vibrant colors and comfy dresses. "Bright colors just set your day off [right] and make you feel a little more relaxed and a little happier," says the impeccably posh fashionista. "I've also been living in these silky, flowy dresses from [Danish designer] Charlotte Sparre that are just perfect for being pregnant."
Relax about workouts. Missing a few sweat sessions doesn't mean you'll be cursed with a post-baby bod forever. "Because I'm not working out during my pregnancy, I can't wait to do it," says Brown. "Once the baby is born, I've got the baby into a routine, and my body is somewhat back into sync, I'll get right back on that running machine."
Keep your due date on the down-low. To dodge future stress, keep your baby's due date quiet. "I don't like to put dates out there because there is so much pressure leading up to it," says Brown. "And then, if you're overdue, there's the whole stress of having to say you're five days overdue or you're a week overdue ... and that can get really frightening."
Carve out couch time. While Brown is often busy running to meetings and carting around the kids, she also spends many evenings with her feet propped up in front of the TV. "I think it's important to have the best of both worlds [while you're pregnant]," she says. "If you work during the week, make sure to relax on the weekends."