Who didn’t marvel at the Duchess of Cambridge’s polished appearance as she emerged from the Lindo Wing clutching her shiny newborn?
But mums are divided about the message her immaculate appearance sends.
While many admired the Duchess’ preened-to-perfection post-birth look, others are concerned that it could pile on the pressure to other new mums to look photo-ready straight after giving birth.
And others wondered how they might have reacted to having to face the world’s glare right outside the doors to their birthing suite?
On social media, mums posted comparison pictures of their own post-birth images, while a forum thread discussing the topic on parenting site Mumsnet attracted hundreds of comments.
EXPECTATION ON NEW MUMS This was me – AFTER giving birth! On my blog – is society putting too much pressure on new mums? How did you look when YOU left hospital? What “expectations” are you currently living under that you could actually live without? Link in bio. Thanks for the nudge @natashabailie (be sure to follow her!)
A post shared by Katy Hill (@katyhillmyworld) on Apr 24, 2018 at 4:53am PDT
One mum who wondered if Kate’s appearance may contribute to increased expectations on new mums was presenter Katy Hill.
Sharing an image of how she looked post-birth, the mum-of-two also penned a blog post on the subject of ‘Expectation on new mums.’
“When Kate left The Lindo Wing, first we all thought ‘Wow – she looks amazing HOURS after giving birth’. And then it turned to ‘HOURS after giving birth? REALLY??!’”
Katy points out that she’s a huge fan of Kate’s, but asks “what’s happened to the world that a new mum would feel the pressure to be THIS coiffed, THIS soon? I know she’s Royal, but really?”
Another celebrity who marvelled at Kate’s picture-perfect appearance was fellow new mum and Tennis superstar Serena Williams.
Chatting with POPSUGAR (via Marie Claire), Serena Williams explained how seriously impressed she was with the Duchess’ bounce-back.
“I was really busy, but I saw the baby, and Kate was dressed, and I was like, ‘Oh, maybe she had him a couple days ago,'” Williams told the publication.
“That’s one heck of a woman! Let me tell you: I was not in heels [after I gave birth]. I thought she gave birth maybe two days before! Wow.”
But for many women the Duchess’ appearance was a stark contrast to their own just-given-birth reality. And hundreds of women responded to a tweet from BBC Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey who encouraged mums to share their own post-birth truth.
Little doubt that #DuchessofCambridge looks amazing Most women post-birth look like a sack of spuds. I’d post an image of me but you’d need help afterwards. If you’re willing to share your truth, tweet @BBCWomansHour
— Jane Garvey (@janegarvey1) April 24, 2018
— Jade Whyley (@JadeBarnes23) April 24, 2018
While many women were sharing their own post birth pictures, others were concerned that by having to face the world so soon after giving birth, the Duchess was under her own pressures.
Michelle Kennedy, founder of Peanut, an app which helps connect like-minded mums believes we need to spare a thought for the Duchess about having to appear picture-perfect so soon after delivering her third child.
“Whilst we all feel pressured to ‘bounce’ back after birth, because this is what the media seems to tell us, the reality is somewhat different,” she tells Yahoo Style UK. “Imagine then, the pressure on the Duchess of Cambridge, to appear to the world’s media.”
“No woman expects that this is their reality, this is the reality of a woman who, with the support of a team, has certain obligations.”
Michelle cites a thread on the Peanut app last night called “Super Kate” which seems to sum up the divide of opinion.
“All of the women who were part of the discussion were firstly seeing the funny side (and sharing their own realities of so few hours post partum), and acknowledging Kate’s reality vs every woman’s reality, whilst admiring her holding it together for a photo opportunity (and hoping she got home quickly to get into her pyjamas!).”
I STILL can’t believe Kate Middleton had to appear fully dressed in HEELS shortly after giving birth. I could barely put a shoe on! #birth #postpartum #newmum #pressure #ridicuous #unbelievable #fake #recovery #giveyourselfabreaklove
— charlotte-mary (@scarlettcharlet) April 25, 2018
I’m sure people will shoot me down for saying this- but what sort of an unrealistic message is Kate putting out to new mums & how much pressure was she put under to step out looking so glamorous(& in heels) after just giving birth?! #unrealistic #royalbaby #poorrolemodel
— Krysta Louise (@Kryskayella) April 24, 2018
It’s a sentiment echoed in an Instagram post by the owner of @cissywears.
“I can’t imagine having to have a hairdresser and make up artist and stylist in my face hours after giving birth,” she wrote on Instagram alongside her own post-birth photo.
“I count myself lucky that I didn’t have to think about anything other than my tiny baby. I didn’t have to worry about how people would judge how I looked despite the fact I’d just given birth. I didn’t have people all over social media commenting about how I still look pregnant.”
“I wasn’t expected to look amazing and then be criticised at the same time for giving other women unrealistic expectations,” she continued.
This is a picture of me that I took a few hours after giving birth to my third child, a boy. I’m posting it because of the slew of “here’s a picture of me after giving birth” pictures that popped up across Instagram last night (and this is not a barb at anyone), but these pictures got me thinking. Without waiting to sound like a nob, I (think I) look incredible in this picture, you would never of known I’d just pushed another baby out my foof a few hours ago. I wish I looked like that now. I don’t, said baby has sucked all my youthful glow. After a late night birth I was on my feet and made up that morning, to go to my sisters wedding. I’m not superhero, I am a woman. I often say with hindsight I wish I hadn’t done it. That I destroyed my own newborn bubble before the adrenalin had even worn off. But at the same time I wouldn’t of missed my sisters wedding for the world, even though she would never of expected me to be there. After my first birth, I remember dragging myself by my hands across the hospital floor to get to the shower because I couldn’t feel my legs. I was wheeled in a wheelchair to a bed on the ward, battered, bleeding and traumatised. With my second birth I didn’t even have time to get undressed, let alone get a hair out of place. After my third I was so so exhausted I sat in a puddle of my own piss for so long my feet went wrinkly. Nico was so quick and easy I didn’t need to get back on my feet, as I never got off them (continued in comments…)
A post shared by Cissy Wears (@cissywears) on Apr 24, 2018 at 3:09am PDT
Cissy concluded her post by pointing out that all births are different.
“You are not more ‘real’ because you were wearing sweat pants and burst blood vessels under your eyes. You are not less real because you weren’t. You just gave birth. You are incredible.”
There’s no doubt, the Duchess of Cambridge did look amazing as she gave the world the first glimpse of the new prince. And yes, seeing those images may well have dented the confidence of a new mum whose post-birth truth was more maternity pads and leaking nipples than manicures and make-up.
But, it should be remembered that Kate is not a regular person, she’s a royal who is likely married to the future King of England. And as such her reality is not the reality of the remainder of the population.
Who knows the Duchess may have headed straight home and ditched the Jenny Packham in favour of her jammies?
So let’s just celebrate the arrival of the new royal shall we? And rejoice in the fact that no matter your own after birth reality – the leaking, the pain, the exhaustion – what really counts is that bouncing baby, not the bouncing blowdry.
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