Eight months pregnant with her second baby, the Today show ’s Savannah Guthrie is deep into this month’s election coverage on NBC. Being a mom, she says, has changed the way she sees the world—and herself.
Her Twitter bio ranks her gigs in order of importance: Today show coanchor is listed second. NBC News chief legal correspondent is third. In the top spot? Savannah Guthrie’s lowest-profile but most meaningful job: “Mumsy to Vale and BabyBoy ???” Vale is her 2-year-old daughter with husband Michael Feldman, a political consultant, and the triple question marks refer to their second child, who is due next month. In her sunny office in New York’s Rockefeller Center, amidst family photos, Guthrie, 44, sat down with Fit Pregnancy and Baby to share her secrets for finding energy, staying strong, and smiling through the stress that comes with being one busy mama.
Does being a mom always come first for you?
“It does, and when I wrote my Twitter profile, I deliberately listed it first to remind myself that being a mom is the most important part of my identity. It’s my life’s work. Of course, if it’s 7:02 a.m. and I’m about to interview one of the presidential candidates, I’m not thinking at that very moment, ‘How did Vale sleep?’ But at 7:05, when that interview is done, I can assure you that I’m texting my husband: ‘What time did she get up this morning? Is she happy?’ I also FaceTime her during the commercials on set. She’s always at the center of my heart.”
Has parenthood informed your perspective on this presidential election?
“It hasn’t changed the way I see politics, but it has changed how I perceive the news. Before, I couldn’t let in the sadness of some of the stories I cover because I had to get through the day. But since becoming a mom, I find those feelings inescapable. When I report on a tragedy, I viscerally feel the grief that any parent in that situation would. I think that added dimension is beneficial, though, because we have to look at the news through the filter of our humanity.”
What’s been the biggest challenge of covering the campaigns this time?
“I was so fatigued during my first trimester—tired almost to the point of feeling ill. When I finally came out of that, I felt so relieved. But then came the conventions, and I was working 80 hours a week. I’d getup at around 3 a.m., do the Today show, take a nap, do aerobics in my hotel room, take a shower, and start another eight-hour stretch at the convention, working until midnight. And I’d never been away from Vale that long before, which was hard. Thankfully, no matter how I was feeling, the excitement—and the pressure—of my job energized me. There’s no dragging on camera. But off camera, I’d collapse!”
Did you always know you wanted to have two kids?
“I came to motherhood so late in life. When I got pregnant with Vale, I won’t say I’d given up hope, but I didn’t let myself think about how sad I would be if it never worked out. So when Vale came along, I was overjoyed. And to this day, if it was only Vale, it would not be ‘just Vale.’ She is beyond every dream, the icing on the cake, plus the gold medal, plus everything. But at the same time, I wanted to try to give her somebody to do life with.”
Describe the moment you found out you were pregnant with this baby.
“I woke up very early in the morning and took a test, but it didn’t turn positive right away. I set it aside, sat at my computer, and just tried not to collapse. I kept thinking, ‘I know how blessed I am, and what’s meant to be is meant to be.’ Then, five minutes later, I glanced at the test again and saw two lines. They were faint, so I turned on every light in the house. Then I took another test, and another, and then I finally woke up my husband and showed him. He was so excited!”
How has your second pregnancy felt different from your first?
“With Vale, I was obsessed with those videos that compare your baby to produce. ‘This week your fetus is as big as a spaghetti squash.’ I don’t even know what a spaghetti squash looks like! Now, I don’t have time to obsess because I’m chasing a 2-year-old. The only thing I do think about more is losing the baby weight. I gained 35 to 40 pounds with Vale, and I’m right on target to do that again. So I try to be a little more disciplined about my exercise and ice-cream intake.”
What does that mean?
"Sometimes I don’t exercise at all, because I’m too lazy. Other times, I want to exercise all the time—and by that I mean twice a week. I do some low-impact aerobics and my prenatal yoga. I eat pretty well throughout the week, but everything goes off the rails on the weekends. Dessert is a signature weak point for me. I miss my glass or two of wine, and ice cream is what’s left, so that’s what I have.”
- RELATED: Prenatal Workouts
Your due date is next month. What’s your birth plan?
“I had a low-lying placenta with Vale, so about nine days before my due date, my doctor recommended a C-section. The whole experience was just fantastic. Afterward, I was high on life—and probably a couple of painkillers. This time, when I said, ‘Do you think I’ll have a C-section again?’ the doctor said, ‘Let’s talk about it when it gets closer.’ And I like that about my doctor. He’s real chill. If I need a C-section, I’ll be totally okay with that. And if I have this baby the old-fashioned way, that’s cool too.”
Would you be all about the epidural in that case?
“Oh, 100 percent [laughter]. Is there anything about me that suggests I have the internal fortitude to withstand birth without a little bit of help? But my hat’s off to women who do. My sister-in-law did with both of her children. She’s an amazing superwoman athlete. And I know that I am not.”
How is your husband in the delivery room?
“Mike’s great. First of all, he does crisis communications for a living. He is temperamentally suited to being a dad. Also, he’s the son of an ob-gyn. His entire life, the phone was ringing in the middle of dinner with women in labor on the line, so he is totally suited to speaking in a calm voice and understanding everything about childbirth.”
Do you have a name chosen?
“We have a name in mind but we’re not committing. We are big believers in looking at the baby to see if the name fits. With Vale, we thought we were having a boy, though we did have a girl’s name too. When we saw her, we were like, ‘That’s not her name. She’s too pretty for that name.’ It was a boyish name. We had never planned on Vale, that’s just a name I had always liked. There in the hospital I said, ‘For the next hour, let’s pretend her name is Vale and we’ll try it on for size.’ And we loved it. It fit her. She was serene.”
And you found out the baby’s sex this time around?
“Yes. It was a surprise to find out with Vale in the delivery room. People had convinced us it was a boy, and in my mind, it was a boy. So when the doctor said, ‘It’s a girl,’ I shrieked as though he had said, ‘It’s a giraffe.’ I was truly shocked but so happy. I couldn’t muster the restraint this second time. And we wanted to tell Vale as much as possible. We wanted to say, “You’re going to have a little baby brother!”
Savannah's Been-There-Done-That Tips for Moms
Gunthrie shares advice you'll appreciate.
- BUY REALLY BIG UNDERWEAR “Take the ones they give you at the hospital, but also get cheap, soft, big, grandma underwear you can wear and then throw away. Trust me.”
- BRING ALONG A NURSING PILLOW “When people visit, it’ll take the anxiety out of holding this teeny creature. Also pack a robe, your makeup, and moisturizers, because at some point you’ll shower, and your own stuff will make you happy.”
- THINK TEENY “I had all 0- to 3-month clothes for Vale and thought they would fit. She was swimming in them! Get a few outfits in newborn-size, which is smaller than 0 to 3 months.”
- DON’T RUSH INTO PUMPING “At first you have one job: Nurse that baby. Get a rhythm. With pumping, you may worry about your supply or whether you should pump one or both sides after a feeding. Take those worries off the table that first month.”
- GET NURSING ACCESSORIES “Two nursing bras, a nursing dress, and a sleep bra for nights.”
- TAKE BORING VIDEOS “Record the baby just lying there, making little animal noises. It goes by so quickly.”