Less than seven hours after giving birth to her third child, Kate Middleton greeted photographers outside of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital with a fresh blow out, a full face of makeup and a visible postpartum baby bump.
Royal fans were amazed that the Duchess of Cambridge was standing, let alone walking in heels so soon after giving birth, with many applauding the Duchess for not hiding her post-baby tummy.
In both 2013 and 2015 after the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, Middleton left hospital wearing shift dresses by designer Jenny Packham. Unlike many royal family members before her, Middleton never tried to hide her post-baby shape underneath billowing dresses or layers of clothing. Instead, she smiled and waved graciously, and even cupped her still swollen stomach.
For many people, this was — and still is — confusing. Pregnancy is well documented in weekly bump photos to social media, in beautiful maternity photos of a mother-to-be belly cupping in a meadow — but one thing that rarely get’s shown is the body immediately after giving birth. Although there are so many resources to help explain how the body changes during pregnancy, a woman’s postpartum body is a completely different story.
On average, women lose 12 pounds immediately after giving birth. That weight is largely comprised of the baby, blood, fluid, amniotic fluid and placenta (first time parents might want to look-up afterbirth so there are no surprises). Every woman is different but generally, within 24 hours of giving birth, your stomach will look slightly smaller, with most women returning to their pre-baby weight between six to 12 months after giving birth.
That number tends to surprise many people. A full year to lose the baby weight? Yes — and it’s normal. However, in a world where many of any of our favourite celebrities go into hiding after giving birth only to emerge weeks later on the cover of a magazine in a bikini, there is incredible pressure put on women to “bounce back” right after giving birth.
Since Middleton’s 2013 appearance after the birth of Prince George, more women have begun to share their post-baby body journey on social media to dispel the misconceptions about their post-pregnancy body. Sharing these stories online helps build a sense of community, and reaffirm the fact that each body is different.
All three of Middleton’s post-baby appearances are a reminder of the amazing transformation of the human body during pregnancy. Sure, the Duchess has a stylist and glam guru to help pull her together for a two minute photo-op, but she is proud of her body, and what it has created. What’s more, Middleton reminds those not familiar with the ins and outs of child bearing that with each pregnancy, the body responds differently.
This discussion of the post-baby body, isn’t shallow — it’s part of educating men and women on a period of time that can be very stressful for women. Through normalizing the postpartum bump, women are helping to squash the expectations of washboard abs the minute the umbilical cord is cut. It is all part of the process of allowing ourselves as women to appreciate our bodies, be patient with them and love them at all stages of life.