Britain seems to have a fascination with all things pregnancy-related at the moment, and it all started way before Kate Middleton gave birth to the future King (oh did you not hear about that? There was only limited media coverage so it could have easily slipped your notice). Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute has been insanely popular since it came on screens in 2010, and has since been joined by Call the Midwife on ITV. Even Radio 5 has (somewhat controversially) joined in, with ‘Bump Club’ airing every Sunday morning, following a group of women through their pregnancies.
Whilst it’s great that pregnancy isn’t a taboo subject, I still think there are some problematic, and somewhat contradictory, narratives at play here. The obsession with Kate Middleton’s pregnancy, and in particular the birth, was bordering on frenzy. The reporters hanging around the hospital whilst she was in labour, feverishly filling in time as they waited hours upon hours, were one step away from speculating how many centimetres the poor woman was dilated. When you already have the pressure of getting an entire human out of your body, I doubt she really wanted the pressure of knowing the entire world was awaiting news of how long her contractions were.
But whilst we’re all quite happy to speculate about this, and ask far too many personal questions, we still put up a big hoo-ha over someone daring to put any weight on during pregnancy. Take Frankie Sandford as an example. Twitter trolls targeted her recently, writing, “does she have an elephant growing in there?”. No, it’s a baby. And funnily enough, the baby has to grow somewhere, therefore you’re probably going to grow yourself. It’s complicated I know, but just mull it over for a second.
When Kate Middleton left the hospital with Baby George, just over 24 hours since she gave birth when she was thrust in front of billions of people round the world, people on Twitter (and Kay Burley) seemed surprised she still had a tiny bump. The fact that so many people were amazed the body doesn’t just ping back into shape shows how unaware everyone is of the true effect of pregnancy. They’re so used to seeing celebrities with totally flat stomachs five minutes after giving birth, they have no concept of the reality, and that, to me, is dangerous. Those celebrities you see in size 6 clothes showing off their five day old baby? They probably had a tummy tuck. To look like that immediately after giving birth you have to have some serious money ready to be put into use. And as Kate Middleton does have this to hand, I think that makes it extra-impressive she didn’t try and hide it. All celebrities should take a leaf out of Kate’s book, it might give people a more realistic view of pregnancy and birth. As it is, people like Miranda Kerr are wandering round in cocktail dresses 24 hours after giving birth, pushing their perfectly silent, designer-clothed tots in a designer pram through the forty degree sunshine.
Whilst we’re on this subject, if I see another “post-baby diet” I might cry. OK! thought it was acceptable to publish a piece on Kate’s “post-baby weight loss regime” ONE DAY after she gave birth (they probably regretted that quite quickly after the furore which met them). When Rochelle Humes from The Saturdays appeared on Lorraine two months after giving birth, she spoke of the health kick she’d been on to try and regain her pre-baby shape. It seems absolutely unthinkable that, actually, being thin might not be top of a new mum’s priority list- the screaming newborn might be more of a concern. Someone who had three hours sleep last night probably doesn’t want to have half a grapefruit for breakfast and nothing more. And also probably doesn’t have time to poach salmon for lunch and prepare a salad.
The reality for celebrity mums is not the same reality as it is for everyone else. They might have a chef, a fitness instructor, a nutritionist, almost definitely a Nanny or five. Your average British mother doesn’t have all these luxuries, and it’s ridiculous to think she can achieve all these things without the extra help. It’s unthinkable to think she has the energy or the drive to do yoga for five hours a day, never mind the time. So the magazines recommending post-baby diets, and those saying pregnant women are “fat”, just aren’t helpful, and they don’t reflect a realistic society. They reflect one that has an obsession with the female figure and female perfection. And that isn’t helpful to anyone.