Yesterday, when I saw the footage of Kate Middleton leaving hospital as a proud new mother, I was very pleased to see she still had a bump. It is perfectly normal for new mothers to still have a definite bump, and it was great that hers was so visible.
I was therefore slightly incensed to read on Twitter that both Sky news and OK magazine (and no doubt other media as well) were wondering why she still looked pregnant. She still looked pregnant, because she’s a real woman who had a baby yesterday.
Why back when I had little’uns, baby magazines all warned that you would still be wearing maternity clothes for a while after the birth: they suggested that you allow as long as it took to grow a baby before worrying about your figure. It would change whether you exercised or not.
At one point, I regularly went to a parent’n’toddler group, a playschool, and a primary school. One day, for no particular reason, I can remember looking at the shapes of the women in the three different places.
At the Parent and Toddler group (children aged from 0 to 3) the overall impression was of ‘lumpy’ women. Big bellies, wide hips, big boobs: these were women who had given birth relatively recently and their bodies showed it.
This contrasted with the women of the playschool, where the children were between three and five years old. The women were rounded and perhaps a bit plumper than average, but their figures were less awkward then the new mothers of the toddler group.
By the time the mother’s children had reached primary school, the mothers’ figures looked normal. Not lumpy, not particularly plump, just fairly normal.
Of course this was not a study to find how women’s bodies changed with time after pregnancy, just looking at a cross-section of normal women from one area of one normal town. Although some of them may have embarked on years of dieting and exercise, others had just left their bodies to reshape naturally, but there was a definite progression.
Kate has now got a post-pregnancy body. As an icon, she influences women and how they feel: and she has now shown the world that the mother’s of one-day old babies still have bumps.
It would be great if the media allow her to have a post-pregnancy body: it would be great if she doesn’t try to get it back to a pre-pregnancy flatness too quickly, to allow all the other women (and men) she influences to see that a post-pregnancy bump is normal.
And there is another good reason for her to want to stay a little rounder than normal for a little longer than the average celebrity. All the time she has a little bump, it will be harder for royal watchers to notice when or if baby number 2 is on the way…