When I call Emma Hawkins for our interview, we are both sitting in our cars, hiding from our kids. “I seriously do some of my best work in the car,” she laughs. This is how working mums get things done. Hawkins is particularly busy as one of the country’s most sought-after lifestyle influencers, she is also co-founder of childrenswear brand Homegrown Kids, runs a farm, and has two little girls, Arabella and Primrose, to husband Tom Hawkins, Geelong AFL player, with a third child on the way. Pregnancy doesn’t come easy for Hawkins. “I'm not going to lie. I find pregnancy hard. I'm so very grateful that I'm able to get pregnant and my pregnancies have all been safe, but I don't find pregnancy easy. I get really sick for the first 20 weeks and then my pelvis gets really sore.” ‘Sore’ is a bit of an understatement. Emma has had similar issues in all three of her pregnancies, but with her second, Primrose, her sickness and pain were extreme. She was so sick in the first 20 weeks that she was hospitalised several times and put on a drip to regulate her fluids. Then, once the sickness subsided, her pelvic pain meant she needed a walker to get around the house, and was housebound for the last six weeks of pregnancy. “I was in pure agony by the end,” she says.
Despite the medical conditions at play, Hawkins attributes some of her difficulties in her second pregnancy to lifestyle, “I had an 18-month-old at my feet, I was working, and I just wasn't looking after myself properly.” The difficulty with her second pregnancy played a part in the couple's decision to have more children. “I'm not going to say I had prenatal depression, because I was never diagnosed, but I was definitely not in a good head space in that pregnancy. I was nervous to go again because I really struggled with Primrose. I’ve now had a good break from pregnancy - there'll be a three year gap between Primrose and this baby - and also, Tom and I sat down and had a really good talk about how we were going to make sure this third pregnancy didn’t impact me the same way.” To do this, the couple have put up boundaries, set expectations, and prioritised health and rest (spoiler: it’s made for a much more manageable pregnancy). Here, Hawkins gets into specifics on how to communicate boundaries, letting go of “perfect mum” expectations, the baby gear that works when you’re half country, half city, and why she loves giving birth.
So we talk about healthy boundaries, how do you actually put them in place?
“From six weeks to 10 weeks pregnant, when you typically don't tell people yet, I let a lot of people know. I was like, ‘Hey, FYI, I'm actually pregnant and I get really sick. So if I'm flaky or if I can't turn up to work, or if I'm in a bad mood, this is why.’ I feel like that just protected expectations around me and put me in a good headspace from the start. We also got extra help with daily home and family life. We don't have family close by, so for me, that’s getting help from our wonderful babysitter lily, and I understand how privileged I am to be able to do that. Having that extra support has particularly been important for me with the two girls whilst maintaining work commitments and family commitments, I’ve really leaned in to having the extra help this time around.
Are you seeing any specialists for your pregnancy?
“I'm already doing osteo and acupuncture weekly. I'm putting time in my schedule to go to the appointments I need, or just to have downtime. I can work from home, but my work I'm typically on my feet, I'm doing a lot of content, or I'm back and forth to Melbourne and the farm all the time, so I’m scaling that back. Which does make it more enjoyable, but also, I'm acutely aware that I work for myself and we have the means at the moment to be able to do this and not everyone can. So I'm very lucky. But if, and where you can, whether it’s social commitments or family obligations, I would recommend cutting back and prioritising yourself, if like me, you find pregnancy challenging.