Melody Chiu
March 22, 2017 09:30 AM

It’s going to be a busy — but sweet — summer for Naturi Naughton: the Power actress is due with her first child in July.

“It’s been a little surreal, but I feel really good, healthy and strong,” the star, 32, tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Chamber Group

The pregnancy came as a surprise to Naughton and her longtime boyfriend Ben, but “it’s such a blessing,” she says.

“I feel like being pregnant and entering this new stage has made me stronger and more excited about life in general. Everything seems so much more purposeful.”

After discovering she was pregnant while in the middle of shooting her hit STARZ show in Brooklyn, Naughton’s cast and crew became protective of her on set.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Chamber Group

“They’ve been really good at keeping it on the low, but they’re also super excited,” she says. “Omari [Hardwick], who plays my husband, we have kids on the show and he’s like, ‘Now you get to be experiencing motherhood in real life!’ Everyone’s been really supportive.”

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And as her baby bump continues to grow, Naughton has learned some tricks to hiding her belly for the show. “I had maternity jeans they ordered for me, and I do a lot of tops that are peplum-style. I was amazed at how un-pregnant I could look.”

The entertainer’s also been eating healthier since finding out she’s expecting — with one exception.

“I love kale, I love strawberries and pineapples, but I’m not proud of this … I’ve been eating Cup Noodles. I really want salty, spicy things, and Cup Noodles has been really awesome. I haven’t had one since college!”

For now, Naughton is picking out colors for the baby’s nursery with her boyfriend and looking forward to nesting this summer before her little one’s arrival.

“It’ll just be a great summer to enjoy motherhood and this journey to motherhood,” she says. “It’s a really amazing responsibility, but it’s such a blessing and that to me is worth more than anything I can imagine.”

 

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