This week, we were thrilled to interview the fabulous TV Presenter, Cherry Healey. Cherry is known for her hugely successful BBC3 documentaries, she has also written for several publications including Grazia, You Me Baby magazine and Cellardoor online. Cherry is presenting Britain’s Favourite Supermarket Foods which starts tonight, 18th July, at 8pm on BBC 1. Cherry lives with her husband Roly, and daughter Coco in London.
You gave birth to your daughter Coco on TV – what inspired you to want to document that experience and what was it like?
The starting point for wanting to make the programme was the confusion I felt at becoming pregnant at 28 and feeling entirely unprepared. I felt like a teenager and this was magnified by none of my peers having children and working in an industry where many women wait until they are in their mid-thirties. Yet biologically 28 isn’t young to be having kids. So I wanted to find out what other women were feeling – is there really a ‘right’ time to have a child? Is there a perfect point at which all the stars align and hey presto, it’s time to get up the duffers!? The filming of the birth was not the impetus for making the programme, but was a natural part to include.
It was reported that you were hospitalised after experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding. Tell us a bit about that experience, and what personal advice would you give to new mums struggling to breastfeed?
Oh wow, that was without a doubt the hardest and most painful part of having a child. I had expected to be able to breastfeed Coco without any trouble (arrogant?!) and so didn’t do much research around it – I even missed the breastfeeding session at the antenatal classes to do filming! But Coco and I really struggled – I couldn’t believe how much it hurt but instead of saying something I just tried to solve it myself. It became worse and worse – and I got into a real state. I ended up with a prolonged and pretty hideous case of mastitis (boob infection) which was more painful than the birth by far and landed myself in hospital for five days on a drip. Not very clever. I wish I had just told someone how painful it was and got some help. I now have the number of an amazing breastfeeding consultant (I wish I had known of their existence!) and have done a lot of research around the subject so feel much better prepared. My advice to mums is to get as much help from recommended people/ places and don’t suffer alone. If I can’t manage it though I won’t do what I did last time and feel guilty. If I’ve tried and it’s hideous again, I will express again – it’s more important my baby is healthy and that I’m not screaming into a pillow – no one wins there!
Describe a typical day in the life for you, your husband Roly, and Coco?
We are experts at doing nothing! We are both freelancers so life can be quite hectic – trying to manage home, child and work whilst on the move is quite challenging (I’m writing this on a train up to Leicester!) but luckily I enjoy logistics so I’m thankful for that. On our days off we mooch about, have breakfast, go swimming, mooch about some more, have lunch, mooch, have dinner, see friends and then repeat whenever possible!
What’s your favourite family recipe?
My mum’s lasagne. No, her apple and maple syrup cake, no, her cinnamon and apple crunch, no, her chicken pie… Okay, I can’t decide. My mum’s cooking is insanely good. I am trying to learn her secrets but she’s just got the magic touch.
You’ve previously described Coco as an ‘unexpected surprise’, and planned to have children at around 34. What are the challenges facing younger mums?
I hate to say this but I think it’s financial. Of course it’s not the same for everyone – many people have amazing family close by that allows them some time alone or time to study/work. But for many young mums they haven’t yet climbed up the work ladder to a point where they can work part-time and still make enough money to pay the bills/childcare – so this creates difficulties. Either they have to defer studying which can be incredibly frustrating, or they are unable to go back to a job they loved, or they just cannot afford someone to help a few mornings a week so they can have a break. I think this is where the feeling of being trapped comes from. I honestly don’t know how some mum’s do it 24/7. And with talk of reducing government help nursery fees (I really hope these are just rumours) I seriously worry about some mums being able to continue working if they want to.
Your family are often involved in many of your TV shows. How do you juggle such a successful career with family life?
When it comes to being involved in the shows we discuss it quite a lot. It’s something that we take on a case-by-case basis but it must feel integral to the programme and not just there for a time filler.
Tell us about your favourite family holiday destination and why?
We’ve just come back from Santa Monica (sounds so glam!) which was one of our favourite family holidays. The hotel had a lovely pool with loads of other kids (which Coco LOVED) and it was right on the beach. From the food to the people we visited, the whole trip was a hoot.
What’s in the pipeline for you, for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
Tonight (18th July) the Britain’s Favourite Supermarket Foods series starts on BBC1 at 8pm, which I loved making. It’s a food show unravelling the science behind some of the UK’s favourite shopping trolly staples. It was fascinating to film. I’ve also just started making a 3 part series for BBC3 which is again a healthy show, but of a very different nature. And beyond that there are some very interesting ideas in the pipeline, which, as a freelancer, I never count before they’ve hatched! Oh and there’s having a baby in October. Must not forget to do that.
What’s the one baby product you couldn’t have lived without?
I love the Organic Babies Dry Skin Baby Lotion. I even sometimes use it on my child.
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
A person trying to make the most of her time and getting it right some of the time, but definitely watching too many films in bed with crisps.
Update April 2018: Read our latest 2018 interview with Cherry Healey here.