No public appearances. Won’t leave her house until after dark. Thousands of miles away from Liam

It’s been more than four months since Cheryl Cole was last seen in public. Granted, in that time she’s given birth to her first child, but even her most dedicated fans are starting to wonder why she appears to have disappeared off the face of the Earth. ‘Where are you?’ asks one fan on Twitter, while another adds: ‘I miss you.’

Six weeks ago Cheryl, 33, and boyfriend Liam Payne, 23, welcomed a baby boy and we’re told it’s because of this that she can’t bring herself to return to the public eye. In her own words, Cheryl’s living in a ‘love bubble’ and doesn’t want anyone to burst it anytime soon. Like many women after giving birth, the former X Factor judge is said to be adjusting to her new post-baby body.

‘Cheryl, understandably, doesn’t want to be body shamed,’ a source says. ‘She knows what a talking point her weight has always been

and she’s not ready for the inevitable comments about her body.’

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But it’s not just the public Cheryl’s worried about. We’re told she won’t even visit friends, preferring to speak over FaceTime or Skype, through fears waiting photographers will snap her and the baby.

‘After 15 years in the spotlight, Cheryl’s used to dealing with how she looks in pictures,’ the insider tells Now. ‘But she’d rather stay at home than risk being judged. Cheryl only goes out after dark and does everything she can to avoid being seen. She’s a strong woman, but she’s so happy right now, she doesn’t want anything affecting that.’

As Now went to press, there had been no paparazzi photos of Cheryl since November, so her plan is obviously working. She’s even confirmed she won’t be at Cannes this year, for the first time since 2012. Whether that’s to do with the fact ex-husband Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini will also be there is another story…

Something else stopping Cheryl from going out is her reluctance to do so without Liam, who’s been in LA finishing his debut solo album. ‘Cheryl’s not against Liam flying to America, but there are times when she would like him in the UK,’ adds our source. He did fly back last week, and was snapped looking incredibly tired.

READ MORE: Cheryl tells Liam ‘Don’t go back to LA yet’

Cheryl could use the time on her own to start the gym and healthy eating that will get her ready for her big return, but she’s trying to avoid anything that will burst her bubble. When Now asked her agent about what she was hiding away, he had ‘no comment’. But, with how fickle the music industry is, we don’t think Cheryl can hide away for much longer…