As the world’s media turned its attention to the birth of another royal baby this week. A big debate ignited on some of the ‘mum’ websites and blogs as to whether Kate was doing the right thing by presenting her baby on the steps of the hospital so soon after giving birth, with her hair and makeup done and not a leaky boob in sight.
Even the BBC joined in, asking women to share their own ‘post-birth’ pictures.
As a postnatal doula, I see a lot of mums soon after the birth of their babies, some high on adrenaline, some with a full face of makeup and others looking exhausted and bewildered. Some mums stay in hospital and in bed for days, some mums get up and out as quick as they can.
And that’s OK.
My role isn’t to judge what a woman looks like, whether or not she is in bed or on the sofa, in her pyjamas or fully dressed with her hair done. By judging Kate, we are not accepting what is normal for her.
Supporting women to understand themselves is a big part of being a postnatal doula. I support families in understanding how they feel, what their instincts are and how to respond to their new roles. A good postnatal doula will help families develop these skills so that they can parent independently and perhaps be unafraid of what the world may think.
Research and evidence show that the postpartum period needs to be respected and acknowledged. It’s a time for mum and baby to come together, learn and respond to each other’s needs and behaviours. Maybe by giving the media the picture they wanted, Kate can now have her fourth trimester and be given time to normalise with her baby. Instead of judging and criticising her, we should be celebrating her and supporting her. By doing that we can celebrate and support all mothers with their fourth trimesters however they choose to do it.
la Kate and her baby – 2006