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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lisa McLoughlin

BBC presenter Rachel Burden says she was ‘really selfish’ to have baby at 41

Broadcaster Rachel Burden has said her choice to have a child at 41 was "really selfish."

The BBC 5 Live and BBC Breakfast presenter had already welcomed three children with her husband Luke Mendham when she became pregnant with her fourth.

Burden, now 49, acknowledged that she was arrogant to assume the fourth birth experience would be free of complications.

“I had three very sort of straightforward pregnancies, and I made the terribly arrogant assumption I’d have a fourth baby and it would be fine and straightforward,” she told fellow presenter Gabby Logan in a new episode of Mid.Point podcast.

“And I think sometimes when I reflect on it, I think it was a really selfish thing to do. I came from a big family – I really wanted a big family.

“I had that moment where Luke and I sat around a table when the third child had gone to school and thought, ‘Oh, this is so boring.’”

Burden added that she spent a considerable amount of time persuading her husband that it was the right decision.

However, upon becoming pregnant, she realised that things weren't “quite right” as anticipated and the baby was born prematurely at only 31 weeks.

She continued: “As the pregnancy went on, something wasn’t quite right and I was kind of puffing up.

“My mum was saying to me, ‘Something is not quite right about this,’ and I was saying, ‘Nah, nah, it’s fine, I’m just busy.’

“I eventually went into hospital for a semi-routine check-up; they were keeping a bit more of an eye on me.”

The radio presenter shared that she was around 29 to 30 weeks into her pregnancy when she went for a check-up.

During the visit, she was informed that she displayed signs of pre-eclampsia, a condition characterised by high blood pressure during pregnancy, typically occurring in the latter half, and life-threatening if left untreated.

Burden added: “So then I was taken and put on a bed and sort of wired up, and all of this. I was still a bit nonplussed, going: ‘I’ve got an OB [outside broadcasting] in Glasgow on Monday, so I’ll make that, won’t I?’”

However, medical professionals informed her that her condition was critical and that the baby needed to be delivered earlier than anticipated.

She recalled: “And they were like, ‘No, this is a really critical situation which you’re in and you’ve got to get your head around that, and you won’t be leaving hospital and this baby’s going to come out much sooner than you think.

“Then, at that stage, initially we didn’t know whether they’d try and sustain the pregnancy for another few weeks. But in the end they were like, ‘Oh no, your blood pressure is really spiking’, so they moved me up to Burnley.

“And he was out within 36 hours of them identifying the pre-eclampsia.”

The broadcaster welcomed her son, Henry, in February 2016 at 31 weeks, weighing 3lb.

Burden explained that her baby had thin and delicate skin, humorously likening his appearance to that of baby Gollum, but fortunately, he was ultimately healthy.

“Anyone who’s had a tiny premmy baby will know that their skin is so thin and fragile – they’re still supposed to be inside you,” she shared.

“But we had amazing care and it took eight weeks for him to come out of hospital to feed and grow, and get to the size he needed to be at, as in a newborn baby size.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate, and I’m very aware talking about this with other women and families who have been through fertility issues, and so on.”

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