Whilst its great the princess Kate can show the world that birth doesn’t need to leave you looking like the wreckage of a car crash I wonder how she felt about having her hairdresser and make up artist in her room just a few short hours after giving birth. I know from my work with new mums and my own experiences that many are reluctant for even the usual visitors coming to meet the new addition to the family and often put them off. And what did our new Prince think of this disruption to his already very different world. He has never been too hot or cold before, never felt hunger before, never felt clothes on his skin before, and now, not only is he experiencing all these new sensations, he has had visitors in the form of hairdressers and makeup artists,strange sounds and smells. New mums need that continuation of calm and privacy for optimum hormone release and skin to skin contact which ensures colonisation of babys skin with mum’s friendly bacteria, promotes instinctive feeding behaviour in the baby, and breastmilk production. Washing your body with products, dressing and swaddling a baby puts a barrier on this vital skin to skin and swaddling additionally camouflages feeding behaviour and cues. Frequent feeding is vital to stimulate milk production. Maybe not everyone is aware of this due to routine hospital practises (which are now changing for the better largely due to the Baby Friendly Initiative and changing birth and parenting trends. https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/what-is-baby-friendly/
Maybe Kate was in bed skin to skin with her baby till right before she stepped out for those few moments, and maybe afterwards she stripped off and got back into bed with her baby! Who knows? But think what she could have done for normalizing realistic birth and breastfeeding expectations if her publicity photo was of her in her dimly lit hospital room, with her little Prince on her chest, naked (because her body temperature will regulate his, no need for hat) and she would still have looked lovely with her hair undone and tired but radiant look on her make up free face. Because underneath that gorgeous dress, she will still be wearing maternity and breast pads (although there is not a knicker line in sight!). Her uterus will still be cramping a little and she probably still felt a bit wobbly, especially in those heels!
New mums often find having a new baby and breastfeeding difficult and trying, trying, to do too much too soon, get out with the pram, do the school run, housework, baby photo shoots, when really they should be doing as little as possible (not always easy don’t I know it four babies later) But maybe we would find it easier to prioritise what really is important if we knew realistically the primal, instinctive needs of our babies. It might not make the logistics of having a newborn and of course siblings easier, but knowing what’s normal can help us have acceptance. And having acceptance helps us be calmer and happier. Which can only be a good thing.