Allana Ferguson on New Motherhood, Sport and Returning to Work

July 05, 2019 7 min read

Allana Ferguson on New Motherhood, Sport and Returning to Work

Allana FergusonAllana and Baby Parker in the Scout KnitRugby League Allana FergusonBaby Parker for Children of the TribeAllana and Parker at homeAllana Ferguson shot by Children of the RevolutionNew Mumma Allana FergusonAllana at home in AustraliaAllana Ferguson Channel 9Parker wrapped in the Isabella Bird Baby WrapAs a successful athlete in a sport that has long been dominated by men, it’s easy to admire former international rugby league and union player turned TV presenter, Allana Ferguson. She is somewhat of a trail blazer in women’s sport and since becoming a new mum to baby Parker, Allana has returned to work in her presenting role for Channel 9.

We spoke to Allana about how her own experiences on and off the sporting field have shaped her, adjusting to life as a new mama and how her perspective of work has changed since the arrival of her daughter. As a teacher, professional athlete and coach she also shares some insightful advice for kids with aspirations for a career in sport.

How do you and partner Guy like to spend your weekends as new parents to baby Parker?

I work on Sundays at the moment so we only have Saturday together and we really do cherish every second we get! We tend to cram a lot in. Guy & I love being outside so we will usually take Parker out for brekkie and a walk along the esplanade at Cronulla beach.

Being winter, we aren’t at the beach much so we either go shopping and then just hang at home; we really are home bodies and prefer just doing something low-key together. We always have an amazing dinner; Guy is a ridiculously great cook so we treat ourselves to something special whilst we have two sets of hands!

As long as we are together, anything we do is just perfect. I can’t wait for Parker to be up and walking and for the weather to be nice enough to take her swimming and playing in the sand, but for now we are enjoying the slow pace and a stationary child haha.

As a teacher, professional athlete and coach, you have worked with plenty of young people. What advice do you give to kids who are passionate about sport and aspire to one day grow up and have a career as a professional sportsperson?

Firstly, do what you love! It’s not easy being a professional athlete, but it’s very rewarding if you’re happy and enjoying the process when reaching your goals. Kids are so lucky to be growing up in an evolving world where there are so many more choices to do what they love regardless of their gender, it’s really exciting. Whilst there is still plenty of ground to make, Australian sport is on the right track.

It’s also important to remember that someone always has to go first - so if it is something you love and want to do professionally but it doesn’t exist yet, figure out how to make it happen.

Secondly, know that plan A rarely works and be ready to reassess and redirect yourself towards plans B, C & D. That could be a backup career, an injury, what to do if you don’t make a representative team or even just if you’re not in your starting position. It’s important to know that it won’t be a smooth ride but it will help shape you into being the strong and successful person you are at the end of it.

Thirdly, write down your goals and follow your dreams. It’s very hard to achieve something and to reach an end goal without knowing exactly what it is that you want. Write it down and figure out how to get there.

Lastly, know that there’s always going to be someone that’s better then you. This is so important to accept from the very beginning, but mostly to use as motivation. Nearly everyone you meet has something you can learn from. You’ll need coaches and a support network to help you along the way, but I found the most motivating thing was to not be jealous, but admire people’s strengths and learn from them.

Since having Parker, you have returned to work in a presenting role for Channel 9’s coverage of the NRL – has your view of work changed since having bub?

My whole perspective on life has changed with the arrival of P, and for the better. It’s given me a huge amount of perspective! She has given me the drive to not only work hard, but to do it so as a family we can live the life we choose.

I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work in the media as a result of my playing career and women’s rugby league taking off at the right time. I was a High School PE teacher first, and then when I had to retire from the NRL, I was lucky to be included in the Channel 9 team.

I didn’t grow up with dreams or intentions to be on television, and I’m not exactly comfortable or confident in that role, but having Parker has given me the perspective I needed. I am lucky enough to be working in Rugby League which was my first love, and with genuine people I like spending time with. Even though I’m not always comfortable, having Parker has helped me to realize that no one gets better at anything from being comfortable and I have to make the most of it. It’s something I’d like my kids to be confident enough to do one day - to test themselves and their limits and see what they can do.

You have remained dedicated to a healthy lifestyle in pregnancy and new motherhood. What advice can you give other expectant and new mums at what is such a monumental change in women’s lives?  

Pregnancy was very tricky and probably the opposite to how I would have viewed ‘being healthy’ beforehand. I was sick the entire time so I lived off every type of pasta, potato gems, dinner rolls and milk; to top it off even walking was enough to make me physically sick. BUT it was the break I needed. I have trained my entire life and eaten to fuel my body, so I saw it as a time to reboot & just get through each day.

My body physically needed a break from training & contact sport, and the diet side of things was easy to deal with as I simply couldn’t stomach anything of colour. It’s crazy though how quickly that changed, the second Parker was out and in my arms I craved fruit and veggies again and loved that I could once again enjoy a healthy meal. I think it’s important to be relaxed, happy and just to do what feels right in pregnancy, there’s no point is beating yourself up about it.

 As a new mum I’ve noticed I’m much better off with good food in my stomach. I usually meal prep at the start of the week for lunches, or choose a dinner that we can make extra of to have the next day. If I don’t, then I find myself either not eating for long periods or making poor food choices.  

In terms of advice for new mums, it’s pretty simple, just fuel your body with what it’s craving. You know yourself what foods give you energy and make you feel good, so even though it can be tricky some days, try to make a plan to eat well most of the time. I find I’m a much better mum when I do.

I’ve also never been hungrier then I am now, which is crazy because being an athlete, I ate a lot. If you’re able to breastfeed, listen to your body & trust that it’s to feed your baby and try not to associate it with any negative body image thoughts, because they need us!

The most important thing I’ve found in general is to ask for help! I’ve never been good at it, but being a mum is hard work and having a healthy lifestyle is a lot trickier then it used to be. I ask my husband, mum & friends for help all the time so I can get things done. Even if it’s just asking a friend to hold Parker while I cut up the veggies for dinner - it’s a massive winner!

When you feel exhausted, what do you like to do to recharge the batteries?

My initial thought was nap! Having only having one baby at the moment I’m lucky because I can nap with Parker. But the biggest thing for me is to feel myself, and I find fresh air and exercise helps me the most. I love training, so even if I’m buggered I’ll try to do something. We walk everywhere, so when the weather is nice Parker and I spend so much of our time outside.

My mum comes over a couple of times a week and it’s the biggest recharge. It means I can take off to the gym and have a bit of ‘me time’. I think just having the music blaring in my ears, sweating, working hard and not having to listen out for an hour really recharges me. It also makes me a much happier human, and I feel like I can tolerate so much more which at the end of the day is best for all of us. In summer I’ll add a swim in the ocean to the list!

How have you adjusted to becoming a mum and what has been the most surprising thing about motherhood?

I don’t really remember what life was like before being Parker’s mum, and I don’t want to! Adjusting has felt really natural, and whilst it’s really hard, it’s all I’ve ever wanted.

Growing up with 3 brothers and playing footy with the boys (I was literally the only girl in the competition) I kind of resented that I was a girl for a long time. I’ve always been a tomboy, never wanted a wedding, don’t like any fuss, but the one thing I’ve said since I was little was that I wanted to be a mum. And motherhood has far surpassed what I could have ever imagined. I just adore being a mum!

The biggest surprise for me is how much love actually exists, and how it grows every day for your little human. It’s mind blowing, it almost hurts; it’s just the most insane and beautiful feeling.

We waited a long time for our little miracle, and now that she’s here, I’m ok with having a house that isn’t spotless anymore, not sleeping much, having very little time to myself, and revolving my life entirely around Parker. I love that she depends on me, and they even if she’s having a dummy spit or a hard day, I am the one who can settle her. I love that she needs me as much as I need her.

Parker wears {in order of appearance} The Scout Knit Jumper and Shorties, Evergreen Romper, The Wild Horses Romper, The Embroidered Cord Romper and Isabella Bird Baby Wrap. Shop the look.

Shot by Children of the Revolution