Meet Sarah: mum to seven month-old Louisa, she’s also quite handy on a bike, in fact she’s Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian having scooped a stunning total of 11 gold medals, four at the London Paralympics in 2012. Not many women combine training for Rio 2016 with breastfeeding. Sarah does…
How old were you when you had your baby?
Tell us about your birth – did it go to plan?
“I was in the garden on the static bike and the contractions started as soon as I got off. Labour was really uneventful until Louisa came out of the sunroof! It wasn’t painful or dramatic; even with the drip the contractions never fully established. She’d just got into the wrong position with the cord round her neck so she needed help.”
How did you choose baby’s name?
“Louisa is my maternal grandmother’s middle name and also my sister’s middle name, we loved the name as we wanted something traditional but not seen too often. We chose Marie for Louisa’s middle name as it is a variation of Mary, my mother’s name.
Complete the sentence: “Right now I can’t live without… “
“Our sling. You tie it round your waist and over your shoulders; it’s cross strap so the weight’s spread and it doesn’t hurt your back. You can use it from newborn and Louisa loves it. We’ve got three that we rotate – one’s always in the wash.”
Best bits of pregnancy?
“I loved everything about pregnancy, but the best bit was seeing my body change and feeling baby move.”
Worst bits of pregnancy?
“There weren’t any bad bits for me, I was really lucky.”
Complete the sentence “I wish I’d known…”
“I wish I’d known quite how much breastfeeding determines your day! We don’t have a routine, we feed on demand – I‘m a fan of letting Louisa lead the way. The female body is an amazing thing; I love that I can train and breastfeed. It’s incredibly rewarding seeing her grow entirely from my milk.”
Why do you love Kiddicare?
“I love Kiddicare because the stores are just great – like an Aladdin’s Cave!”
How has motherhood changed you?
“Motherhood is the most incredible life challenge – it’s fascinating. Every single day Louisa’s learning something new, it’s a privilege to watch her grow and explore. It’s not a job – it’s a lifestyle. I didn’t know what to expect before I had Louisa but I’ve learned to trust my instincts which has really helped.”
What are Louisa’s favourite things at the moment?
“People! She just loves going out and being on the go. She’s so excited to see smiling faces and get out and about. It’s great with what we do – training and competing here, there and everywhere.”
Any favourite toys?
“Stacking cups, definitely. She loves playing with them in the bath. She’s got her own bike too – she can’t reach the pedals but she knows how to sit on it!“
Describe her personality – any surprises there?
“She’s a happy little girl – busy, busy, never still! Always on the move, trying to crawl, but she’s not quite got it yet. It won’t be long till she’s on the move. She loves standing up, she’s got strong little legs bless her. And she loves everything red!”
How do you and Barney juggle training with parenting?
“We’re lucky to have my parents living 200 metres away so we can lean on them. Barney and I tag team around training and I always leave pumped milk in the fridge so he can feed her. The sleeping has been surprisingly easy – we go to bed earlier and co-sleep so I can feed Louisa in the night. As for the travelling, it really helps that Louisa’s such a social baby.”
Has your disability affected day to day tasks?
“Not yet. I suppose I just find my own way of doing things. I’ve never known what it’s like to be a mum without a hand missing so everything I’ve done, I’ve learnt it my way. Changing nappies isn’t a challenge yet – it could be when she’s really wriggly though! Admittedly, administering Calpol can sometimes be tricky.”
Which pushchair are you using?
What products have you found that make your life easier?
“Medela Collection Shells are brilliant. You just pop them in and they save any milk that leaks. Babycalm is a book I kept referring to. It’s got lots of great ideas about settling babies so they’re content. It also goes into the concept of the fourth trimester and baby acclimatising to life outside the womb.”
What do you hope Louisa will learn from you?
“A work ethic. Nothing gets given to you on a plate – you make your own luck and there’s no point waiting for something to happen. If you want something badly enough, provided you work hard, there’s no reason you can’t have it.”