Beyoncé and Jay-Z take an old-fashioned approach to pregnancy
The singer has not made a song and dance about getting pregnant - unlike many Hollywood stars and showbiz celebrities.
Tinseltown was reported to be in an official state of turmoil last night over rumours that Beyoncé Knowles had become pregnant using her own womb, eggs and her husband’s sperm. “What kind of example is she setting?” asked one A-Lister, who conceived through donor sperm from a university professor who models part time for Prada and can speak six languages. “Honestly, the cheek of the woman, going around in a functional relationship, having a child within wedlock.”
“I don’t know who she thinks she is,” observed another resident in nearby Beverly Hills, who paid a small fortune to a teenager in Oklahoma to have her twins. “In this day and age, you can’t just go around flaunting your bump to all and sundry. We’ve all learnt our lesson from Demi Moore. Just look what happened to her career when she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing nothing but a hand over her belly and her breasts.”
That’s enough joking. What is irrefutable is that on Monday night, Beyoncé turned up at the MTV awards cradling and stroking a noticeable bump, announcing proudly to the assembled press that she and her husband, Jay-Z, were expecting their first child. And all the single ladies – not to mention the ones who are spoken for, too – rejoiced at the sight of a celebrity mama who has opted for a retro pregnancy.
Or in other words, one that doesn’t involve expensive fertility clinics, surrogacy, or only having sex standing on your head when the moon is full and Mercury is in the ascendant.
This retro pregnancy is refreshing because celebrities have never been keen to lower themselves to the levels of us meagre civilians. They almost always have to go one better. They purchase their little miracles from impoverished third world countries (see Madonna and Angelina Jolie’s rainbow broods). Or they borrow somebody else’s womb (step forward Sir Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman). And if they do actually get pregnant themselves, they must refuse to reveal who the daddy is (in the style of Mad Men’s January Jones), because all publicity is good publicity.
Or – perhaps most extremely – they are often needlessly pumped with a cocktail of hormones. The actress Davinia Taylor admitted that she was so desperate for a baby that she went straight to IVF without trying to conceive naturally. She was not even 30 at the time.
A private fertility doctor told me of a celebrity who spent several weeks eating mud at a specialist spa because she had heard that this boosted one’s chances of conceiving. And not for celebrities the rigours of natural childbirth. Instead, they will have caesarean after caesarean until they finally ''give birth’’ to the girl they have always dreamed of, in the manner of Victoria and David Beckham.
And A-listers can’t use the excuse of a life growing inside them to pig out and eat whatever they want – this is why, even at full term, Mrs Beckham still looked skinnier than your average non-pregnant woman. If celebrities do put on weight, there are gasps from the press, as there were with the supermodel Milla Jovovich, who gained 90lb when pregnant with her first child. Not that Jovovich cared – in fact, she positively relished the opportunity to get fat with abandon. “My friend and I went round Saint Sulpice cemetery, where French royalty are buried,” she told a magazine at the time. “On the way back, I said to her, 'Let’s eat like kings!’ I was craving bone marrow and we scoured the whole of Paris searching for the leg of a cow.”
And then there is the pregnant woman I know who lives in LA and tells me that: “I was quite surprised when my doctor told me that I should only put on one pound for every month of my pregnancy. I thought the focus would be on the health of my baby and not the way I looked, but that’s not the case here.”
There are rumours of starlets who opt for elective caesareans in their eighth month to avoid the extra weight they put on in the ninth, following it with a tummy tuck. A new book, Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven: A Gutsy Guide to Becoming One Hot (and Healthy) Mother!, has taken the States by storm. How tragic that the phrase ''eating for two’’ is well on the way to being obsolete in the Hollywood Hills.
But bonkers baby-making is not, sadly, a preserve of the rich and famous. Not any more. Zita West, a fertility expert based in London, says many clients are so terrified that they will never have children that they arrive at her clinic in desperate states. “I was a midwife 30 years ago and what has changed today is that women are waiting later to have babies, which means they turn up petrified they’ve left it too late to conceive. One woman had visited a hill in the Chilterns that is supposed to boost fertility. Someone had been to Austria to drink from a special waterfall. Then there was the lady who had got her house feng shuied and was told her inability to get pregnant was because she was sleeping on the wrong side of the bed. She hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that her husband spent half the year living on the other side of the world.”
West sees this desperation, this fear that you will have to go through IVF or surrogacy, as a barrier to getting pregnant. “There is a danger that sex becomes mechanical. An obsession with ovulation isn’t romantic for either of you and a load of performance anxiety can come with that. The 21st-century couple suffers from information overload – you read all sorts of things on the web – but at the same time, they are also quite unaware of their bodies. You get women who have been on the Pill for 15 years, and they haven’t a clue about their own cycles.”
West applauds how relaxed Beyoncé and Jay-Z seem. “I think that retro pregnancy is the phrase to use. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just relax. You can control almost every area of your life but that isn’t the case with your fertility. My advice? Getting pregnant is actually a strangely unconscious thing, and the more conscious you are of it, the harder it gets.”