Sally Gunnell - Champion Mum
TheBabyWebsite.com spoke to mother and ex-Olympic Athlete Sally Gunnell. Sally has 3 boys - Finley 8, Luca 6, and Marley 2.
We interviewed her after she had spent the day 'lying around' at The Bed Show.
Did becoming a mum change you?
Yes, very much so! Obviously when I was running it was all very much about 'me' - what I ate, what training I did etc. The biggest change was having that responsibility and having to care about something else- one extreme to the other.
What were the first few weeks like after you had your first baby?
Very scary! I wasn't quite sure what I was doing. When I first took the baby home it was a shock to my system - how demanding it all was! I felt like a total 'milking machine'. I'm the sort of person that never sits down. I felt like I was just collapsed on the sofa. That was the biggest thing.
So you breastfed?
I did! I breastfed all three of mine for up to six months and then moved to the bottle towards the end. There's quite a knack to it. It certainly wasn't easy to start but it's very rewarding and I did enjoy it.
With three grown boys in the house, do you manage to get much 'me' time?
Not a lot as you can imagine! They're very,.full of energy! They're very tiring. You have to do things with them. I guess the 'me' time is going out for a run - disappearing out the door and leaving them with my husband - it keeps me sane!
Do you still prefer running to going to the gym for example?
Yes, because of the time factor. With running I can just get out of the door and run for half an hour. A gym needs much more time and planning for things like changing and booking into the creche whereas if someone's at home I can simply 'pop out' the door on a Saturday or Sunday morning very quickly.
Do you miss the competition?
Not really. All that was just one part of my life. I guess I'm quite competitive in some of the things I do but I don't ever get the urge to be 'back there'. It was great at the time but quite nerve racking.
Did you have any food cravings during your pregnancies?
I had different ones for all three of them. Nothing outrageous like coal or anything. I craved sweet things with the third one which made me think it was a girl. I felt more sick with each one as I went on.
Was there anything you couldn't tolerate? Anything you hated?
No, not really. I was big but people say I looked my best; my face looked its healthiest when I was pregnant.
When you found out you were pregnant, can you remember what you felt like? How you reacted?
I was very pleased as well as a little bit shocked. I didn't expect it to happen so soon. I'd literally just finished and retired so I thought it would take a little more time.
Britney Spears, along with many other pregnant celebrities, faced relentless media comments about her looks and her body from the moment she got pregnant! What are your feelings on the way that celebrity mums are portrayed in the media after giving birth?
I think there is a lot of pressure to lose weight. I felt it because of the public sporting background. I must admit it did take me a good year to get back to normal,.to get back to feeling as I did and to lose the last bits of weight. And I think each one takes longer. It's not easy and I do think some people go back a lot quicker. I never dieted though. I did it properly through exercising more and letting it happen naturally rather than intensively trying as a result of the pressure to 'have' to lose this weight.
There have been catty comments made recently about Davina McCall and her hair. She is associated with a haircare brand but in common with many new mums appears to have lost some of her hair around her hairline. Did you lose any of your hair after your babies?
Yes I did - lots with the last one! That's what happens! I didn't even worry about it. It happens to lots of mums. There's no reason to get upset about it. It is quite tiring and hard work being a mum. You've just got to do the best you can.
What's your idea of a nice family day out/in?
I have to get the boys out! We either go out for a long walk or go for a bike ride. They love going out on their bikes. If it's raining heavily, we might go to the cinema or something like that but nine times out of ten we'll get them wrapped up and go out to do something. They all moan, as I'm sure all kids do, but once they're out they love it! Marley, my two year old sits on the back of my bike and he thinks it's the best thing in the world. He loves it!
What's your favourite family holiday?
Gosh! Skiing! We enjoy skiing. We leave the little one while we ski in the mornings but we meet up again at lunchtime. We love the 'outdoor' feeling. The boys absolutely love it and I think it's a holiday they'll still want to go on when they're in their twenties!
If you had one piece of advice to give to any member of thebabywebsite.com who is about to give birth for the first time, what would it be?
You've just got to 'go with the flow' for that first six weeks. Don't get too stressed out because the baby isn't sleeping through the night, you're not feeding at the right times etc. You've got to go with it for six weeks and then you'll feel your life is starting to come back together and you're a bit more in control.
Do you think the relationship you had with your mother influenced the way you bring up your own children?
I'm sure it has. We are all influenced: in the way that we discipline, or indeed do day-to-day things,even what we do at weekends really. When I think back to my own childhood, I very much think of the outdoor life. The things I did as a child are the things I try to do with my own children and that almost all revolves around outdoor activities
The word 'MUM' is apparently the favourite word in the English language - why do you think that is and what's your favourite word?
I think it's a comforting word; it's very soft and cuddly. My favourite word?.....(laughs),.well one word I really like is when Marley, my 2 year old, calls me mamma. Yeah, I think mamma is my favourite!
Why do you think Fern Britton was voted the Nation's favourite Mum recently?
I guess it's because she's a really 'homely' Mum and I think people can really relate to her. I guess she's a really 'cuddly' sort of person, a good listener, is sympathetic and very good with people. She's the sort of person you could ask about anything - like a mum should be.
Do you think there'll be any more little Baby Gunnells?
I think we've given up now. We don't need 4 boys running around. We've turned into a taxi-driving family already, so I think three's enough!
What are you up to at the moment?
There's a lot going on really. I do a lot of motivational speaking and I'm training to do the London Marathon. I'm also involved in the Hallmark Mother's Day Campaign. It's really nice that they've chosen me out of all those Mums out there!
Finally Sally, and be honest now, Coco Pops or Porridge?
Porridge! Definitely! I'm a porridge girl!
And, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig?
Ummm - Daniel Craig!
Me too - Many Thanks!
© www.thebabywebsite.com February 2007
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