Sunrise’s Edwina Bartholomew on her pregnancy and career
What you see is what you get with Sunrise host, Edwina Bartholomew, especially now that she’s pregnant with her first child. The 36-year-old Sydneysider has undergone an inspiring mental-shift with her health, career and life in the past year or so. I’ve known her for about 10 years and she seems more relaxed and at peace with where her life is at. She’s also refreshing real about social media and life away from TV. As the spokes-mother-to-be for DrinkWise, Eddy is now spreading that message that it’s safest not to drink while pregnant… and she’s a true testament to that.
Here, she sits down with whimn’s editor-at-large Felicity Harley (who is also a Sunrise regular) for our interview series In All Honesty where inspiring women open up about the most important lessons they’ve learnt and share other nuggets of wisdom.
Well, this is unusual – you used to do these interviews for whimn.com.au and now I’m interviewing you.
A nice little twist. It’s good as the pressure is on me…
So, you’re pregnant – big congratulations, Eddy – now tell us why are you feeling more Amy Schumer than Meghan Markle?
You know, I loved Amy Schumer’s honesty on Instagram during her pregnancy – we got to witness all the stuff you don’t see, and for a first time mum, this was reassuring. I have no idea what’s going to happen post-December [editor’s note: she’s due Dec 11]. It’s also been great having a girl gang at work that I can rely on – a friend who works at Seven Sport sent me a list of all the things I should buy and I forwarded this onto another colleague who put her notes in. Fortunately I’ve been feeling fine, I’ve been travelling overseas for work. Although, one of the things I have done is given up drinking. In fact, I gave up drinking into the lead-up to getting pregnant. I’m 36 and having done shift work for 15 years, I felt like I had to convince my body it was ready to have children.
There’s a lot of confusing information about whether you should drink while pregnant…
Being pregnant for the first time can be confusing – what you can and can’t eat, do and not do. But I was shocked that 28% of Australians are not aware of the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant or planning to get pregnant*. The DrinkWise campaign is to help people understand – even if you’re a heavy drinker before pregnancy that can have a detrimental affect on your baby. If you’re heavily drinking in the first three months, which can be hard as lots of women don’t know they are pregnant, that can also increase the risks of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. So yes, there is confusion and understandably so.
Were you a big drinker before getting pregnant?
I have gradually cut back over the years. Before getting pregnant, I saw a naturopath, started meditation – I tried all these things to turn my body around. It actually worked, I felt a shift in my mindset. It allowed me to slow down, be healthy and feel the best I could be before this next stage.
So, have you kept it up? The meditation?
Yes, I try and meditate before work.
Like, at 3am?! That’s very impressive.
(Laughs) Yes! I get up and sit down for 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon, but actually the afternoon would be a rarity. It was a hard shift for me as I’ve always been go, go, go….
How are you feeling about the changes to your body, which is no doubt amplified being on TV?
Of course, I am happy to be healthy but, yeah, sometimes when I catch that wide shot I’m like, “Woah, OK!” It is a bit tricky mentally in an industry where image is a big part of what you do. I’ve never been a size six with stick thin legs, no hips and no boobs. So when all of those elements are exacerbated on air…yeah, it’s challenging. But at the same time I marvel at my own body. There is a sexiness to being pregnant and often I will catch a glimpse of myself without clothes and I’m like, “Wow, pregnancy is a beautiful thing.” There’s a real unifying thing to being pregnant – our mums, work colleagues, friends – all these women have gone through this process before.
Studies show that even women with healthy self-esteems can still feel the effects of social media on their body image – as you’re an avid user, how are you coping during pregnancy?
No-one is immune to that feeling when you scroll and compare yourself to other people’s lives, and often that is exacerbated during pregnancy. I am aware of that. Although now I feel we are seeing some more honest voices filtering through.
Like Amy Schumer! Actually, one thing I’ve always loved about you Eddy is your self-confidence. How have you managed to nail that?
Yes, I’ve always been honest on social media and I like to be self-confident. Often I wish I was more confident – I’m just as guilty of second guessing myself, overthinking things and being my own worst enemy.
Well, that surprise me…
It’s a gradual process. I don’t think I’ve solved it yet. One of the solutions is to block out the voices that come from outside. At the beginning of the year, I deleted Facebook from my phone as I didn’t need to hear all the commentary [from viewers]. I used to be a big believer in going onto the Sunrise page and reading all the comments and thinking that was constructive – both positive and negative – to make sure I wasn’t buying a ticket to my own parade. But then I realised I’m not infallible, I can’t block all that out. I’m not as strong as I thought I was, so for me it was better to not engage. Instagram is a lot more supportive. I do find overall social media has been a lovely place since I’ve been pregnant and people have been so supportive giving their advice.
Want to win $500 to spend on whatever you want? Fill out our retail survey for your chance.
What sort of mum do you think you’ll be?
I don’t know. I’d like to think I would be loving and caring but pragmatic and realistic. I have learnt over the past few years not to put so much pressure on all aspects of my life so I’d like to think that would continue into motherhood. I know there are so many outside voices, overwhelm and guilt that comes with parenting.
Does that scare you?
Well, Neil [Eddy’s husband] and I will do it our way, we consult each other on everything much more than we seek outside advice. My friend, who’s baby is now 18 months old, gave me the best advice: “Make sure you’re a team. The best thing for that child is that your relationship is strong and that will make you the best parents you can possibly be.”
So, what about the other end, you’re in a supposedly cut-throat industry, how do you feel about returning from mat leave?
We have an office full of working mums and my boss has been great. I finish in November and I plan to come back in June, so I’m not worried. If someone is better than me at my job, good luck to them, I’ll go and do something else.
That’s a big call Eddy (insert smile). After all, you won a competition for interning at Sunrise.
I know, Stockholm syndrome (laughs). Way back when I was at university, I won a competition to be an intern at Sunrise so that’s how I started working at Channel 7 just before my 21st birthday.
What’s your secret to your longevity?
Perhaps because I started in TV so young I never had a chance to develop an on-air persona so what you see on-air has always been off-air, and hopefully will remain so for years to come.
How’s your side hustle going?
We have a farm between Lithgow and Mudgee (NSW) that we bought about three years ago which we’ve turned into an Airbnb. It’s been hugely successful. When I stopped travelling so much for work, after I stopped doing the weather, I missed being out of Sydney. We’ve got bees, cattle, an orchard…
What advice would you give to your 20-something self?
Don’t worry so much. I could still take that advice today. I feel I’ve wasted so much energy over the years on what I’m doing, where I’m going and am I doing enough. The one thing I’ve learnt over my career is that you don’t know what’s next or what’s around the corner. Obviously you can create your own opportunities and work really hard, but stressing about it and worrying is not going to help.
Who do you turn to for advice?
My sister, Meg, who doesn’t watch TV. In fact, she doesn’t own a TV and she wouldn’t know what I do on a daily basis. Most of the people, my friends, I turn to are detached from this TV world and this is healthy for me as it gives me perspective. The farm has been another healthy part of that as there’s a whole other aspect of Neil and my life that has nothing to do with the day-to-day. All our seminal moments, we got engaged there, married there, are part of that.
So, all you need is for your baby to be born there!
*Research by DrinkWise. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day is September 9. FASD refers to a range of conditions that can result from brain damage caused by alcohol exposure before birth – it is preventable. DrinkWise encourages women to abstain from drinking alcohol when planning a pregnancy, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.