I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier not to be a princess than this morning.
Plastered across the media were photos of the Duchess of Cambridge standing outside the hospital seven hours after giving birth, holding a tiny bundled prince in her arms. She was wearing a red Jenny Packham dress and shoes with heels. She was made-up and her hair was blowdried.
She looked glamorous and elegant.
I gave birth seven years ago, and I’m still struggling to look glamorous and elegant. Seven hours after giving birth to my daughter – emergency c-section under general anaesthetic – I was lying in a hospital bed with a tube stuck up me to help me wee, while a midwife yanked my nipple and tried to shove it into my baby’s mouth. I can’t remember what I was wearing, but I don’t think it was designer.
Seven hours after giving birth to my son – vaginal birth with ventouse – I was lying on my side to ease the pain of the haemorrhoids, which the nurse cheerfully described as looking like “a bunch of grapes”. I was looking into my son’s eyes and he was calmly looking back into mine.
Okay, so this was Kate’s third baby, and maybe it all went really smoothly. Maybe, straight after giving birth, the first thing she wanted to do was have a blow-dry, get her makeup done, pull on a nice dress, slip her feet into a pair of shoes, and go out and wave to the crowd.
Maybe. Every woman is different.
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I’m not going to suggest Kate was forced to make a public appearance as quickly as possible. But she would have felt that pressure. The hairdresser and stylist would have been booked and waiting. She would have known there were crowds standing outside the hospital, and billions of people around the world hanging out for a glimpse of the new prince.
You know, we all could have waited. We would have been satisfied with a quick snap of the baby’s feet posted on Instagram. Kate could have snuck out a back door a day or two later, still in her jammies and slippers, with her hair looking like a birds’ nest. It would have been okay.
I hope she wasn’t feeling too sore as she walked out of the hospital in those heels. I hope she didn’t have to make too much of an effort to smile and wave. I really hope that in those hours after the birth, when she was getting her hair blow-dried, that she wasn’t just wishing everyone would go away and leave her alone with her brand-new baby boy, to quietly look into his eyes.
I worry that these photos will make other women think that looking this glamorous seven hours after giving birth is something to aspire to.
No woman should feel pressured when she’s just given birth, not even a princess.