Reality TV

Anna Heinrich’s vulnerability on SAS Australia is a valuable lesson about motherhood

''I was worried that once I had child, would I be able to do anything? Would I be able to do anything for myself?''

By Maddison Leach
No one would look at SAS Australia and think the show has anything to do with motherhood.
Packed with military-style challenges designed to break a person mentally and physically, the reality series leaves recruits tired, sore and drained in a matter of days… actually, that sounds a lot like motherhood.
Just ask mum-of-one Anna Heinrich, who tackled the gruelling selection course this year after making the difficult decision to leave one-year-old daughter Elle at home.
"It scares me because I've never left her and she's my first, but I know she's in good hands," Anna told SAS producers after leaving Elle with husband Tim Robards.
It was a choice that took a massive toll on Anna, reducing her to tears time and again before she voluntarily withdrew in episode 11, but it also presented a very poignant message about motherhood.
Anna Heinrich had to leave husband Tim Robards and daughter Elle at home while on SAS Australia. (Image: Instagram)
Speaking to Now To Love exclusively, Anna confesses that she once swore she'd never do the show, but changed her mind after becoming a mother in late 2020.
"Before I fell pregnant, I was worried that once I had child, would I be able to do anything? Would I be able to do anything for myself?" the 33-year-old recalls.
"And it was so funny because I had all those things going around in my mind, and as soon as I had Elle, I felt like I was doing more than I've ever done before. I changed."
But the change wasn't easy, and becoming a mum only exacerbated some of Anna's lifelong insecurities.
Throughout her time on SAS Anna opened up about the ocean of self-doubt and insecurity that rages inside her, sharing some of her darkest fears about herself.
"I just don't feel like I'm ever good enough and I think I'm just ashamed sometimes of who I am. I want to be better, and not so negative," she sobbed in episode 10.
"I feel like I'm so weak. I'm most afraid of failure and not giving it my absolute all," she said in episode 11, adding: "I do feel a lot of pressure to never put a foot wrong."
Her comments sound like a simple reflection of the toll SAS took on her mind, but the reality is that these kinds of thoughts plague millions of mums around the nation.
One in seven women who give birth each year battle the crippling effects of postnatal depression, while millions more deal with other mental health battles and experience those thoughts that they're not good enough.
Anna herself has battled those feelings, telling Now To Love: "I've definitely dealt with that [self-doubt] in all aspects of my life … I always go into things thinking the worst.
Anna's time on SAS can serve as an important message for other mums. (Image: Channel Seven)
"That's one of the reasons why I wanted to go onto SAS to try and change that mindset. There's not many experiences that can do that, and I knew from hearing past recruits' experiences … it's changed them. I hoped that was going to be me at the end of the day."
Despite her fears that she would never be good enough, Anna sent a powerful message in her time on SAS Australia; she's trying her damn best anyway.
Explaining that so many mums experience the same fears she did – that they're "going to lose themselves, or they're not going to be able to work as hard" – Anna is proving that mums can find a way to overcome those insecurities and achieve incredible things.
For her, it was rising to the challenge of SAS Australia and coming out stronger; for the rest of us, it may just be getting through the day and making the kids' dinner without a meltdown.
WATCH: See Anna Heinrich's daughter Elle take after dad Tim Robards. Story continues after video.
"I definitely think it has [changed me]. I still think I'm a work in progress; it's not like all of a sudden you change overnight into a totally new person. But I definitely think it has helped," Anna says of her experience.
"You've got to go through these different experiences to change your outlook on life and yourself."
Anna is still a work in progress, telling her fellow recruits in episode 10 that she wants to become even more confident so she can raise her daughter to believe in herself no matter what.
"I think one of the things I'm going to take from this experience is to believe in myself, to know that I can do things and to get rid of that self-doubt," she said after withdrawing from the course.
"I've got to be confident. I've got to be positive. I want to instil that into my daughter and know that she can do absolutely anything she puts her mind to."
Anna with her number one fan; daughter Elle. (Image: Instagram)
After filming wrapped last year, Anna reunited with her baby girl and told TV WEEK: "It was incredible. I'm not sure whether or not she missed me, but it was just one of those emotional moments."
While her stint on SAS Australia has come to an end, perhaps the mums around Australia could take a lesson from Anna's time on the show and know that they're not alone, that everyone is a work in progress, and they really can achieve anything they set their mind to.
"I probably know more about myself than I ever did before having Elle and it's just crazy how your whole mindset changes after you've had a kid," Anna explains.
"A lot of people do go through this like almost transformation, and I feel like having a child did that for me."

Want all the details on the latest season of SAS: Australia? Check out these stories: