Sky Sports presenter Hayley McQueen talks body confidence, women’s sport and her battle with endometriosis
Sky Sports’ Hayley McQueen finally gave birth to her daughter Ayla McQueen-Newman on 3 October 2019, but getting pregnant in the first place wasn’t exactly an easy journey for the broadcaster and her partner Kirk.
Here, we speak to Hayley about her fertility journey, living with endometriosis, and how her relationship with her body has changed.
Hayley, you gave birth to your daughter, Ayla, back in October. How’s motherhood so far?
It’s actually been quite relaxed! I’m still on maternity leave, and since I had a c-section, it’s forced me into not doing very much. The grandparents have also come to visit – Kirk’s parents live in Germany, and mine are in the north east – so it was lovely to spend quality time with them.
How did you find pregnancy?
I thought I’d encounter more problems than I did as I’m a bit older [Hayley is 40]. I was going in for day assessments every week for the last couple of months, as I had high blood pressure and Ayla was in the traverse lie position, so we had to keep an eye on that.
I had such a big bump, too, and was terrified that she’d be a massive baby! She ended up being 8lbs, so not as huge as I’d expected.
Getting pregnant wasn’t an easy journey for you. Can you tell us what happened?
When I met Kirk in my mid-30s, I made it clear early on that I’d want to have a baby in the next couple of years – I didn’t want to wait too long because of my age, plus by that point I had already been diagnosed with endometriosis.
When I started having fertility tests later on, it turned out I also had cysts on my ovaries, which needed to be removed before I even started trying to conceive – by not doing so, I was told I could run the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.
We then looked into trying IVF, but the day we were due to start, we found out that I’d fallen pregnant naturally!
You’ve spoken openly about your endometriosis battle. Do you think awareness of the condition is improving?
I think so. It’s important that people talk about it and are properly educated, because it’s a serious medical issue – I was in so much pain once that I passed out on the floor of the Sky Sports’ toilets, minutes before going live on air.
Recently I got involved with an endometriosis awareness campaign in Scotland, where the aim was to normalise the terminology we use around gynaecological problems and make employers more aware of conditions like endometriosis, so that, if you’re calling in sick and need to explain why, they actually know what you’re going through.
It’s also important that women can recognise the symptoms, particularly those who want to have children in the future. We need to make sure we’re using the right language, too, and not just referring to it as ‘ladies’ problems’ or ‘that time of the month’.
You’ve been vocal about body confidence too. How has your relationship with your body changed since giving birth?
My body’s carried a baby for nine months, so I see it very differently now! It’s amazing what it goes through during pregnancy, and what it does to nurture and protect your child.
I’ve never had an issue with diet or size, and I do still obviously want to lose my baby weight, but only because I want to be healthier and stronger for Ayla.
And when she’s growing up, there’ll be no scales in the house, or mentions of the words ‘diet’ or ‘fat’. She can have treats, of course, but I want to teach her that it’s all about balance.
You love sport, and your dad, Gordon McQueen, is a Scottish football legend. Do you think you’ll make a fan out of Ayla?
I hope so! I was obsessed with it growing up and would love for her to enjoy it too. Team sports are brilliant for building relationships, so it’d be great if she was part of lots of clubs.
She’s already watched a boxing match on the TV actually – Kirk had her little arms punching away throughout, which was very funny.
What’s your take on the FA announcement that every girl in England will have equal access to football in PE lessons by 2024?
It should have happened a long time ago, but it’s a good start. I definitely think it’s beneficial for boys and girls to play together, and I don’t know whether it’ll be mixed teams or not, but having the girls up against the boys can only make girls stronger.
I was a huge football fan growing up, but all my friends thought that was really weird. Now, of course, we have all these amazing female footballers who have become household names and who girls can look up to.
And if they’re inspired by the likes of Steph Houghton, for instance, they need to have the opportunities available to try to be like her.
Where do you shop for Ayla?
My sister has a little girl, so she gave me tons of amazing stuff from The White Company and JoJo Maman Bébé.
I love dressing her in babygrows and rompers rather than jeans and leggings, and both Newbie and Emile et Rose have some beautiful pieces.
What about for her nursery?
We wanted to get her furniture that has a bit of longevity, so we got her a Mokee cot for when she’s a few months older, which converts into a toddler bed and has a changing table attached.
She’s in a Sleepyhead in our room at the moment, and we have lots of beautiful covers for that.
What’s the best thing about being a mum?
Her smile when she recognises me, and the fact that, no matter how tired or rotten I feel, as soon as I see her little face, nothing else matters.
I love it when she clocks me from across the room and starts jigging about because she’s so excited. It’s the best thing, knowing that she knows who we are. I keep saying to Kirk: “can you believe that we have a baby?!”
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