The actress and mum-in-waiting talks about her pregnancy and shares her hopes for her little one.

Joanne Peh ready to welcome little ‘bao bei’

On baby's nickname and gender...

It’s a blisteringly hot day, but this year’s Star Awards’ Best Supporting Actress winner has much to beam about. Clad in a long green tank dress that lovingly hugs her bump, Joanne, 32, now nearing the start of her third trimester, looks every inch the superstar, striding into the studio with a face that’s makeup-free and wreathed in smiles.

The hot mama-to-be radiates a playful, relaxed vibe throughout an interview and shoot that lasts four-plus hours. There’s plenty to be pleased about, after all, since Joanne’s good fortune seems to be holding well.

And the icing on the cake that’s her fabulous life? An SG50 baby that’s set to arrive in August, no less.

Oh, baby!
Married to China-born actor and fellow MediaCorp artiste Qi Yuwu, 38, in a low-key ceremony last September, Joanne is thrilled to have conceived immediately, “I feel very blessed.”

Sharing her joy of pregnancy and impending motherhood, the excited mum-to-be says she was moved to tears after seeing her baby’s first ultrasound scan. “I wanted to cry. It’s just something you can’t explain and you’ll not be able to identify with it until it happens to you. It’s unreal.”

Joanne’s journey to maternity has been smooth sailing to date. Even her first trimester was largely free of morning sickness and fatigue. She grins, “I only felt a little queasy at night.”

Incidentally, she’s determined to keep, well, mum on her baby’s gender. Joanne grins cheekily, “We’re keeping it a secret.” She would only divulge that “bao bei” is her nickname for her baby.

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“I’m not focusing on the pain at all. If our mothers can do it, why can’t I?”

On becoming domesticated and prepping for a natural birth...

Domestic diva
The timing of Joanne’s pregnancy seems to be spot on, too, especially since she was feeling burnt-out after having filmed non-stop for the last couple of years. “As my contract was coming up this year, I wanted to cut down on productions and do the things I really wanted to do and feel for. Then everything sort of happened... The proposal, the wedding and the baby.”

Indeed, the glowing mum-to-be is revelling in domesticity these days. She spends most of her time these days baking and cooking — something she had always wanted to do but never had the time for. She quips, “Baking is therapeutic.”

Joanne tries to maintain a healthy approach to cooking. “Now, I look at labels when I buy stuff, and oh my goodness, there’s so much junk and chemicals everywhere! When you make your own food, you kind of want to have control over what you put in it.”

But her practical side takes over quickly — she is quick to acknowledge that it’s not financially feasible to maintain an organic lifestyle, so she strikes a balance.

Natural selection
A firm believer in doing things naturally, the fitness buff is prepping for a natural delivery — in Singapore — with daily prenatal yoga and Pilates workouts.

And as “D” day approaches, Joanne is conscientiously preparing for her new arrival and hopes to tackle her labour without pain relief. She is also booking prenatal massage sessions to keep her body in balance.

“I’m not focusing on the pain at all. If our mothers can do it, why can’t I?” she says matter-of-factly. Similarly, she plans to breastfeed her little one, since breastmilk is “the most natural thing.”

Prepared as she is, this independent go-getter is jittery for she fears that she hasn’t done enough. “Maybe it’s because I want the best for my child and I’m afraid I can’t do it because I have no experience... Everybody who’s a mother will tell you, ‘Oh, you’ll know (what to do when baby comes),’ but how do you know?” she laments.

Thankfully, her encouraging husband, who is filming in China, has her back and reassures her when she frets. “He’s very protective and very supportive. He’s the kind who thinks, ‘Everything can be solved, don’t worry’.”

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"Every child is different. You can’t impose your views on them."

On parenting and becoming Mrs Qi...

Speak volumes
Joanne’s eyes and tone soften the moment she starts talking about Yuwu. Describing her husband as my “soulmate and best friend”, she says, “There are just so many parts to him — everything about him completes me.” Joanne also reckons that it’s the balance of the yin and yang — she is rational, while he is emotional — that underscores her solid relationship with Yuwu.

She has every intention of adopting a balanced approach to parenting, too. The best way for children to learn, she notes, is through experience and engagement.

“Children should be free to explore at their own pace and be able to play and have fun. Every child is different. You can’t impose your views on them. I hope my child will be brave enough to follow his or her own dreams and passions, and not be controlled by what the bigger environment expects of him or her.”

“My role as a parent is to learn from my child because there’s so much that this blank piece of paper is going to tach me,” she says with passion.

Role play
This gorgeous artiste has no intentions of slowing down after baby arrives either. However, she has a caveat, “I still want to work but more importantly, to do the things I believe in and that I feel for — I don’t want to miss out on my child’s growing-up years,” she states.

And while Joanne has always wanted a big family and is open to welcoming four kids, she is realistic. “I’ve always wanted four! But then again, like I say, ideal is one thing. Let’s get this out first. Then we see how we feel, then we go for that!”

So, what does she think is the role of her life? “I think being a wife is the best thing,” she says, after a rare moment of reflection.

“Finding the right person is the best thing to have happened to me. Children will grow up and have their own families. My husband will always be with me. He’s my life partner — my role as a wife is a forever thing,” she sums up with a sweet smile.

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