Television's yummiest mummy: Karen Koster
There comes a time in most young mothers' lives when the sands of the maternity leave timer run out and they must reconnect with their careers. Karen Koster, who rang in last New Year's Eve with her newborn baby boy, Finn, is now at that point and will return to screens this Autumn on TV3's Xpose. And she says that slowly she conquered any jitters she might have felt about getting back into such a high-profile role. "I took extra unpaid leave, an extra 16 weeks, but what helped my anxiety is that I've been working here and there; I presented The VIP Style Awards and doing things like that you feel less daunted, because when you're off and in mommy mode you can lose a bit of confidence. I'm feeling good about going back in September."
The 34-year-old Dutch-Irish presenter bluntly admits that she's "not back in shape" and doesn't sound in the least bothered by this fact. "I was never really a big gym bunny and to be honest I don't really have the energy for it at the moment. I know people are probably sick of hearing this but breast feeding does help - I did three months of it. Also there is not that much sitting around when you have a little baby.
"Even just going to the supermarket becomes its own little military operation, between getting baby chair in and out of the car and then bringing him around."
Karen says that the pressure to look good on camera can be nerve wracking. "With women it's very much about the visual and people look at the hair, the makeup and the dress before they even listen to what's coming out of your mouth.
"People can be hyper-critical of women on TV and especially their appearance, but if they're going to give me grief about weight straight after having a baby then I really think we need to have a conversation about being a little kinder to new mums."
Koster's father is from Rotterdam and her mother is Irish but she laughingly says she's "not a very good representative for the Irish-Dutch community" since she doesn't speak Dutch. But she does have the blonde hair at least, I venture. "Well", she laughs, "that has more to do with the (family) hairdressing business than it does to my genes."
She studied French and English at Trinity College and during the degree was a runner up in RTE's talent search show, The Selection Box. After that she became a weather presenter on TV3 and has co-presented Xpose since the programme began in 2007.
She met entrepreneur John McGuire that same year. "I met him at a launch in the Shelbourne Hotel", she recalls. "He got my number and I was thinking 'well, I'll wait to see if this guy calls', and he did. The rest, as they say is history." The couple, who married in Sicily in 2013, recently had concerns about the proposed expansion of The Bridge bar which backs onto Clyde Lane, near their home. The bar is owned by rugby stars Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney, his brother Dave, and Sean O'Brien; Noel Anderson of the Grafton Lounge is also a partner in the venture.
"That's all John's area. As far as I know they're expanding but my husband seems happy with how things are going," she says.
"After I got pregnant I was saying 'it's just my luck that a bar opens at the end of our street and I can't go in!' We're all on good terms but at the same time we have a young family so we want to make sure the baby's not getting woken up and all that." While the TV career kicks back into gear Koster says that she and McGuire would also like a bigger family. And the biggest thing that motherhood has taught her? "Trust your gut. I was a nerd about reading all the books but sometimes it's about reading your own baby and giving yourself a bit of credit."
Karen Koster returns to Xpose this September
Xpose airs weekdays at 6pm on TV3.