Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Marquez talk parenting, welcoming son Thiago and returning to Strictly
Just days before we speak on Zoom, Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Marquez welcomed their second child, Thiago, into the world. We enjoy a refreshingly candid conversation as they relish the newborn bubble, marked by baby poo breaks and chats about pelvic floors and engorged breasts, giving a glimpse into what we can expect from their new series Gemma and Gorka: Life Behind The Lens.
Across three 60-minute episodes, the new series on W will follow the couple – who fell in love in front of the nation on Strictly Come Dancing, where Marquez works as a professional dancer and Atkinson was a contestant in 2017 – as they embark on an exciting new chapter.
From ante-natal appointments to life at home with the newest member of the family, it's an honest and intimate look at what it's like to go through pregnancy after a previous traumatic birth, which Atkinson experienced four years ago.
“I have a lot of women message me on Instagram, saying they had a similar birth experience to me, (which) put them off wanting other children,” says actress Atkinson, 38.
“And it's through fear of the same thing happening. Sometimes the same thing does and will happen. Sometimes it won't. But it's about knowing your body and your choices.
“With (my first child) Mia, I felt like the choice was completely taken out of my hands. Because it was an emergency section, then I had a big haemorrhage…
“But this time around, I've learned that it wasn't taken out of my hands. That's just how it was. And for some women, that's their pregnancy. And that's their birth.
“Ultimately, the end goal is to birth a healthy, happy child, which is a successful birth. So this time round, it was about going into it with an open mind in that, yes, I'm hoping that I can have a birth with no trauma, but I'm also open to the fact (that) if it is traumatic, or if it doesn't go to plan, I'm okay with it.”
The programme, she adds, is “about empowering women to know that they have options, and no matter which way you bring your child into the world, it's okay”.
While the couple are enjoying having their little boy home and having a break from filming the reality series, Marquez's imminent departure for the 2023 series of Strictly is hanging over them. He is due to start rehearsals just a few days after we speak, and is trying to soak up every moment with his son in the meantime.
“Monday we start rehearsals, and it's only like five days a week, so on the weekends, I get to come home,” says the Spanish dancer, 32.
“Obviously, it's gonna be sad leaving the house and leaving them three here. But with Mia, I (had) to leave the day after ‘cause I was on tour, so I got a full week now which feels like a blessing.
“But again, it's only like, Monday to Friday – Friday evening I will be home for the weekend.
“So yeah, it will be okay. I will be fine.”
Atkinson and Marquez have been exceedingly generous with sharing their experience of pregnancy, allowing camera crews to follow them as they meet with experts, prepare their home for their new addition, and juggle work with a growing family.
Four-year-old Mia has loved the limelight, her dad says.
“Actually, she enjoyed it!” says Marquez.
“She calls them the filmers. She's like: ‘Are the filmers coming today?'.
“We're very aware that obviously she goes to preschool, and then she has Friday off and the weekends off. So she's not been filming every day.
“We only film three times a week, and one of those days is with Mia, the other two is on ourselves.
“So (she) kind of sees it as a bit of a game, but she really enjoys it, she's quite sassy…
“The other day she was checking like: ‘Am I having a mic on?'. And we were like: ‘No, you don't need one'.
“She's like: ‘How can you listen to me then?!',” he laughs.
By opening up their lives to the cameras, the couple hopes both mums and dads will learn plenty about the realities of pregnancy, understanding more about the process and giving themselves space to savour every moment.
“You see a lot of photoshoots of people in the public eye looking so glam, and I did a shoot in pregnancy and everyone was like: Oh my God, you look incredible. And I was like: I've been in hair and makeup for two hours, I had a stylist… day-to-day pregnancy is the complete opposite,” says Atkinson.
“When I was pregnant with Mia, seeing all these women looking and feeling amazing… I was just like a massive bag of sweat. I was like: clearly I'm doing something wrong here.
“So I'm hoping that they just relate to the realness of the fact that it's not glam, and it's not easy, and for your partner to still find you the most attractive thing even though you've got engorged breasts, you're leaking milk, you feel disgusting, you're wearing a pad, you've got germoloid cream everywhere. And for them to still think you're so beautiful because you've birthed their human…
“It's things like that, I think for women… because your hormones are everywhere, you feel like you're just a big mess. But it's not the case. It's nice for women and men to know that.”
“I just feel like from the dad's side, sometimes there's not a lot of information out there,” adds Marquez.
“Obviously, the most important thing is the mum, you know, during the pregnancy, they carry the baby, they deliver the baby. So I think that's the most important thing.
“But also, I think it's good for males in this case, to maybe (find) some more information to help them and kind of understand the process and everything the women go through.
“And just be open about it. Sometimes still I think men tend to (not) talk about things and isolate themselves… I also think the more the males get to ask questions and get to understand what they go through, the process, it's even more enjoyable for both sides, because you get to enjoy everything.
“I don't carry the baby, but I know what Gemma is going through… I'm always very involved and asking… because I find it very fascinating.
“I think it's good for (men) to speak, open up… (that) will help them to be part of the team.”
Gemma and Gorka: Life Behind The Lens starts Wednesday, August 30 at 8pm on W and UKTV Play.