On Tuesday evening I sat whilst my two girls played and watched the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge emerge from St Mary’s Hospital in London with their new bundle of joy. What a beautiful moment that was. And how real it was too. Love them or hate them, one thing the younger Royal members have done is to normalise the Royal family. Prince William and Kate Middleton appeared that day like any other couple who had just had their world rocked by the amazing edition of a small person. Despite appearances you could see that Kate was a little anxious whilst on parade in front of the world’s press. She looked glowing but tired. The eyes cannot lie and hers were filled with joy, tiredness, anxiety, emotion. Behind that smile and calm appearance was a new Mum with her own unique mix of emotions.
She looked amazing. How she walked out in those heels I do not know. I remember feeling as if my insides were about to drop out for a good week after giving birth for the first time. And then came the twitter comments about her postpartum bump and why was it still there. Hello! She’s just given birth to a baby people! I couldn't quite believe the ignorance of those people and it got me thinking about what we really know before we have children of our own.
|Image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk|
The pressure to snap back into shape on women postpartum is huge. Take a look at the misguided front cover of OK Magazine that followed the birth announcement and you will see the kind of world we now live in. What kind of message are we sending to our children, particularly our daughters? We have the lowest figures ever of new Mums breastfeeding, natural birth without intervention is becoming less common and it appears we are moving away from what’s “normal” into worrying territory.
We need to be honest about what pregnancy and birth are really all about. Let’s stop dishing out the fairy stories about storks delivering babies. You can simplify information for young children to understand that can still remain factually correct. Maybe then the comments that were thrown at Kate Middleton about her postpartum bump that day wouldn't have happened because it would be common knowledge to the masses not the minority.
When I went to my eldest daughter’s parent’s consultation last Autumn I was overjoyed to see that when she had been asked to draw a picture of herself as a baby she drew one of her being breastfed! Hallelujah! Not a bottle in sight. Now before you all sharpen your daggers thinking I’m attacking those who bottle feed, I’m not. But what I am pointing out here is that this type of thing is rare. Advertising never shows a breastfeeding Mum, we don’t have baby dolls who are breastfed, they have bottles, and when a breastfeeding doll did come on to the market for kids (which I remember seeing via Facebook), there was an outcry of “it’s weird, not normal”. In my mind that’s all upside down and back to front. We need to lose the embarrassment factor and bring our children up knowing the facts not the fairy stories.
I truly hope that we are now a generation of parents who WILL tell our children how it really is. We need to swallow back our embarrassment and empower our children to know the facts about things like pregnancy and childbirth. I know that I was shocked when I saw my postpartum body. I was mortified to see that my belly didn't retreat from whence it came. Naive perhaps, but there were quite a few things that both my own mother and the midwives didn't discuss before my baby arrived.
Let’s take that veil down. I applaud Kate Middleton for not hiding her postpartum body. I have immense respect for her. It wouldn't have been easy to come out to the scrutiny of the world’s press at such a vulnerable time in her life and she chose a dress that showed her remaining bump. Perhaps that was her aim. Perhaps she IS that new generation who will change the face of this distorted world we live in. The world is watching her, poor woman. I just hope that she is afforded the time to bond with her baby and is able to embrace whatever feels right for her as a new Mum.
I have read a few blog posts in recent days from fellow Mum bloggers who have shared pictures of themselves having just given birth whether that is the day itself or a few days after and I think this is a great way to raise awareness about what is normal. We don't all look svelte, made-up and glowing from top to toe. Below I am sharing a few of mine too. Katy Hill tweeted a picture of herself 2 months after her baby was born. What a breath of fresh air this lady is. Total respect for you Katy. We need more celebrities like you raising awareness of what’s real and what’s not. Let’s hope that as women we can start to change the perception out there so that the reaction Kate Middleton’s appearance sparked on Tuesday doesn't happens again.
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