Becoming a parent for the first time is a monumental event in anyone’s life. For most of us it’s a fairly intimate experience and we share the excitement our closest friends and family. For the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, however, they became first-time parents with the whole world watching.
After weeks of being camped out outside St Mary’s maternity hospital in London, the paparazzi received the news the world had been eagerly anticipating. Last Monday, at 4.24pm (UK time) after an 11-hour labour, the royal baby was born, and the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William became parents.
Royalty aside, giving birth for any couple is akin to experiencing a miracle. Every labour is special and every experience is significant. But the micro examination and scrutiny that parents (particularly mothers) are subjected to is deplorable. Everyone has an opinion about how you should be parenting and they aren’t afraid to tell you. It comes from those closest to you, and it comes from complete strangers. In Kate’s case, it is coming from every single media outlet in the world and from people she will never meet in her life.
Within a nano second of presenting her precious son to the world, Kate’s ‘baby-bump’ was fodder for public discussion and poor journalism. No sooner had Kate given birth than OK! Magazine published a “Kate’s Post-Baby Weight Loss Regime” piece, complete with interviews with the “Royal Trainer”, all before the poor girl was even out of the delivery suite. Talk about pressure, not to mention poor journalism. Fortunately the online backlash was swift and readers were appalled forcing an apology from Ok! Magazine, and rightly so.
In this article, Kate’s post-baby bump is ‘celebrated’ and the writer applauds Kate for not concealing her belly. Why is Kate’s ‘bump’ even being discussed? Of course she still has a baby bump emerging from hospital 24 hours after delivery. She gave birth to a 3.8 kg baby!! Why would she try and conceal her baby bump? Why is it being celebrated that she has one? And why is it being written about at all?
People often ask what the best advice is to give to a new mother. Perhaps instead of the old ‘rest when baby rests’ refrain, we should be teaching new mothers how to deal with unsolicited advice and criticism. Learning to deal with this takes some time, and how you respond to it is different for everyone.
Whilst no other role in life is as scrutinised as motherhood, it’s hands down the most significant role you will ever have in life. Regardless of whether you are royalty, becoming a mother is a life-changing event. Just as no two labours are the same, no two mothering experiences are the same, and no two children are the same. There is no universal formula for parenting aside from love.
Shortly after the royal baby was born several parenting experts in Australia were approached by journalists to provide their best parenting tips for the royal couple. My favourite response came from Nathalie Browne from Easy Peasy Kids who posted on Facebook that she had declined to be interviewed because the message she would give was brief and simple:
Love your baby. That is all.