We interviewed the very lovely TV presenter Cherry Healey, known for her hugely successful BBC3 documentaries. Cherry has also written for several publications including Grazia, You Me Baby magazine, Mother and Baby and Cellardoor online. Cherry is presenting ‘So You Think You Can Drive’, starting 4th September, at 10.35pm on BBC1. Cherry lives with her husband Roly, their daughter Coco and son Edward in London.
The birth of your first child, daughter Coco, was documented on TV. How did the recent birth of your son compare?
It was different in so many ways but, I think, the filming aspect wasn’t a major one. The director and I had been travelling around, cheek to cheek, for four months previous to Coco’s birth so we were pretty much in sync – and she’s a wonderful, sensitive person so she was very careful, as much as possible, not to impact the experience. But I had planned a home birth with Coco and it had ended in an emergency c-section and so, because I was nervous of doing that again, I had a planned Caesarean with Edward. It was very calm and, thanks to an incredibly, very funny/unusual anaesthetist, the process wasn’t an anxious one.
Your post baby body looks unreal. What’s your secret?
Honestly? I work bloody hard! For me, there is no magic cure at all sadly. I eat less and move more – BORING! I’m most definitely not one of those women that weight just ‘falls off’. One of my friends “gave up pudding for a month or two” and that did the trick! I cut down on alcohol (the occasional gin & slimline rather than wine) and eat very lightly during the day, but always have a delicious, proper supper as I love to eat out and cook, so that works for me. My body also needs exercising everyday (like a hamster) so I try and either run/stretch/tone or do a really fun class called Jumpboard at Tenpilates – it’s expensive but, once in a while, it’s worth it. Women get criticised for losing baby weight too quickly but actually it has taken 9 months and personally it’s easier for me to do it hard and fast. That doesn’t work/isn’t right for every women but it works for me as I get really motivated when I’ve got a project – so I view it like that!
Weaning can be difficult. What will you do differently this time around?
Everything! I did a terrible job the first time around! I thought it would be instinctual but, for me, it absolutely wasn’t. I was also terrified of Coco choking so, after two bad experiences of her gagging (which I now know is perfectly normal and to be expected, within reason) I chickened out and kept her on mush for far too long. Plus I wasn’t strong so if she refused/didn’t like something then I would never give it to her again! With Edward I’ve done it very differently. Firstly, I researched the different methods and settled on a mixture of baby-led-weaning and spoon feeding, and I’m also much stronger. If he doesn’t like something I offer it again until, after only two or three times, he gives it a whirl. I’m very conscious of introducing lots of new flavours and textures and, so far, he eats everything. Phew.
What are your key style looks, being a new mama?
My style choices are quite simple; anything that makes you feel lush and anything that you can bend down in and not flash your bumcheeks or might rip! I had forgotten how much bending there is with a new baby – picking up toys, picking up food, wiping the floor – the last thing I need is skinny jeans that aren’t my friends.
What’s in your nappy bag?
I’m often in a rush (who isn’t!?) and when it comes to a hungry/pooey baby there is no joy in being without the essentials so I try to keep the nappy bag in quite a military state! Nappies, wipes, two changes of clothes, two muslin clothes, milk, snacks and nothing else! But it doesn’t always happen so it is, right now, a total mess and has the inevitable collection of half a biscuit/broken toy/falling apart tissue at the bottom!
Is time off work important after a new arrival, or do you relish the opportunity to get back into the routine?
Time off is incredibly important. How long? It’s very different for every woman and every baby. Edward was a very mellow fellow right from the minute he came out so writing articles while he slept or taking him to development meetings or voice overs wasn’t a problem. Plus, I’m not very good at sitting still!
What family-friendly things do you most love to do in London?
Buses. I know it’s not very sexy but they are amazing. I avoid the tube when I have kids but we’d get the bus to Ulan Bator if we could. Coco adores animals so we’ve been to the Natural Science Museum a dozen times and, for her fifth birthday that’s coming up, I’m taking her to the zoo to see the baby tigers which is going to blow her mind! Obviously I’ve been bigging it up as the anticipation is half the fun.
What are you most scared of?
This is so predictable but I’m scared of anything bad happening to my children or family. When they aren’t OK everything stops. I’m also scared of not being able to provide for them – but I’d get a job doing anything to make sure they’re ok.
How did you introduce the new baby to Coco? Was she excited about her new brother and is she a good big sister?
We had so much great advice, all of which we followed. We bought her a present from the new baby which we put in his cot and she saw him only a few hours after he was born – plus her wonderful granny took her out for a treat (pink donut!) while he was being born – so the experience for her was pretty good! She’s very protective of her little brother which I find hilarious – she has also recently discovered that she can pick him up which I think he finds terrifying!
You’re a huge inspiration in the presenting world. What’s in the pipeline for you next?
I’m not very good at taking compliments so I’ll just say thank you! My new show So You Think You Can Drive will be out on BBC1 in the next month.
I’ve just made a few pilots for ITV and BBC and am currently making a documentary series for an American channel called A&E. I’m actually writing this sitting in JFK Airport and I’ve had four wonderful days of chatting and filming and eating and sleeping BUT I am so excited about waking up tomorrow and seeing the wee ones. Joy joy joy!
Cherry is presenting So You Think You Can Drive, 4th September, 10.35pm on BBC1.
Update April 2018: Read our latest 2018 interview with Cherry Healey here.