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Emma Hawkins on Putting Herself First in Her Third Pregnancy

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"I really struggled with my second pregnancy, so this time we set measures to make sure things were different."

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.

What’s your maternity wear style been like this time?

“The first time around, I bought everything under the sun. It was absolutely crazy, not to mention terrible for sustainability. I mean, I've passed a lot of it on. But I bought so much maternity wear and, this time I am in my husband's shirts and leggings, and will happily wear those to my osteo and acupuncture appointments. You get so overwhelmed and you can get on the rollercoaster of , ‘Yeah, I need these shorts. I need these pants. Now, I need this,’ but the best money you can spend is on the essentials that your newborn needs and the essentials that you need. For me, I’d rather spend my money on osteo appointments at the moment!"

What about how you’re shopping for this baby?

“When I was a new mum, none of my really good friends were having babies yet, well not many. I was the first one out of my friendship group for a good few years. So I generally had no idea. I'd read this and hear that, and I'd just be like, ‘Well, I've got to get that,’ I didn't even know what I was buying. I’m glad I've learnt a thing or two now, and my girlfriends are now telling me all the new things on the market."

What’s the best thing to give a pregnant friend?

“I never buy things for the baby. I'll get a Blakes Feast voucher, or food delivery, or pay for a cleaner. I'm so into gifting the mum. The baby's going to get gifts and it wears grow suits for the first six months.”

What have your births been like?

"I love giving birth. I've had wonderful births both times and they've both been really similar. I am your epidural girl, straight up. It means I get to have a sleep during the labour and then, push, push, and they're out. I was always going to have the epidural, because I'm in so much pain through the end of my pregnancy and don't need to feel any more, as far as I was concerned. Everyone's birth is so different and we all have different birth plans and birth stories which makes our own experiences wonderful and special. I thoroughly enjoy giving birth, I love it. I don't know how this one will go, hopefully similar, but you never know. I mean, every pregnancy and baby is so different.”

What are your postpartum plans?

"I’ll have no visitors this time. Because, everyone that's had a baby in COVID said how lovely it was to not have visitors in the hospital. So I'm definitely going to put a ‘no visitors’ rule in for the hospital. When I had my two girls, I had two visitors a day with Arabella, I cut it back with Primrose. But I'm cutting it all back this time because it's the only time I'll ever really get with this baby, that’s just this baby and I.”

Have you been good at boundaries in your previous postpartum periods?

“I'll be good this time. That was something I didn't do enough in my first, maybe a bit better at my second, but I think the more babies you have, the more confident you are in your decisions, and what you need. Whereas the first, you're so excited with the adrenaline. But I have a real sense of living and learning and just knowing that I’m a bit wiser as I get on. And I probably wasn't as confident putting those boundaries up because I didn't want to disappoint people. I was a full head case with my first, thinking back. I went to a wedding 10 days after I gave birth. What was I thinking? I had to wear Havaianas because my feet still wouldn't fit in flat shoes. That was insane. I still had a pad on and I was struggling with feeding and it's like, no wonder, you're trying to go to a wedding when the baby is 10 days old. If I could go back, I’d tell myself, ‘you're trying to pump and feed, and you're still learning, and the baby's still learning, go home.’"


"I went to a wedding 10 days after I gave birth. What was I thinking? I still had a pad on and I was struggling with feeding and it's like, no wonder, you should be at home recovering."

How are you preparing your girls for a new little baby?

“Arabella is so cute. She's five years old, so her excitement level is gorgeous. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. She kisses my belly every morning, every night. She asks me if I need help with breakfast, she's just such a little caring soul. So, so excited. Primrose is three and is going through a really expressive stage of her life. She thinks she's got a baby in her tummy as well. She thinks mine is a dinosaur. And there's a few like, ‘I don't want the baby.’ I think she is just a bit confused as to what is actually happening. She is really marching to the beat of her own drum at the moment. They are both excited about sharing a room though. They’ll go into Bella’s room together and Prim’s nursery is very gender-neutral so the baby will go in there after about six-weeks of being with us."

What are some of your favourite baby products, and are you starting fresh or reusing?

“I've given some away and then they've come back, so there's more of a rotation system going on. My Cocoonababy is probably my favourite item. And that's done, I think, six babies and it comes back to me. I’m also a fan of an old school swaddle with a jersey fabric, so there’s a little bit of stretch otherwise the Love To Dream suits work really well with the Cocoonababy. Then, because I mix fed both girls, I got to use a prototype of the MISSTA Bottles with Primrose, because the creators are friends. I was just like, ‘This is a game changer,’ because I was that sucker on the aeroplane or in the car, trying to put half sterilised hot water in, and half of the cold sterilised water in, and spilling it everywhere. It’s genius. And up late at night, doing the feeds, it’s so helpful. If you're mixed feeding or exclusive formula feeding, the MISSTA Bottle is my top recommendation. Being on a farm, it's not like I put the baby in the pram and go for walks that often to the shops, so the pram usually stays in the car for when we’re in the city, and we use the carrier around home. I’m excited to use the Bunnie Caddie too, that looks so smart."

What’s your best advice for new parents?

“So the best advice I was given, and I in turn now give to other people, is that women have been doing this for thousands of years, before all of the books and the apps, and the baby expert influences. And you can get so rattled and ingrained, and listen to so much different advice, it can confuse you. But you just need to sit back and remember that women have been doing this for thousands of years and you'll find your groove. The way you raise your baby, and the way you and your baby connect, and what you do, might look really different to the books that you've read, or really different to how your friends are doing it; and that is fine. I think I've put so much pressure on myself to do it a certain way, and when I stopped and focused on actually works for our family, things started to click. You'll find your groove. You will. Don't expect to find it straight away. Like in anything, people do it at their own paces, and so will you and your baby.”

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