Monday 18 December 2017

Lay off Kate: her mummy tummy is healthy, OK?

But what's unhealthy is our attitude to women's bodies during and after pregnancy, writes Joanna Kiernan

Kate Middleton, displaying her post-partum belly, and Prince William leaving the maternity hospital with their newborn son George
Kate Middleton, displaying her post-partum belly, and Prince William leaving the maternity hospital with their newborn son George
Joanna Kiernan

Joanna Kiernan

Poor Kate Middleton, on the day she married her prince she was over-shadowed by her sister's rear end and now after giving birth to the future king of England she has been outdone by her perfectly normal, healthy, but nevertheless protruding, post-partum belly.

The Duchess of Cambridge may have thought she'd grown accustomed to the pressure of the media glare since her wedding in 2011, but nothing could have prepared her for walking out the doors of the Lindo wing at St Mary's Hospital with her first-born, as the world watched. It didn't take long for them to spot it, one hand placed delicately on her stomach, an action of comfort and habit.

At this very same moment, as Kate, a little over 24 hours after labour, radiantly smiled at photographers and gushed about parenthood, OK! magazine hit the shelves with cover splash and full six-page special on a suggested post-baby diet and fitness plan, alongside nostalgic talk of her once beautiful bikini body and speculation as to whether it will ever return.

The decision was met by a flurry of angry tweets, resulting in '#DontBuyOK' trending on Twitter within minutes. Furious UK TV presenter Katy Hill even posted a photo of herself complete with her own small bump stating; "New Mums. If the @OK_Magazine #Kate cover has made you feel bad, here's me 2 months post baby. YOU MADE A HUMAN!"

But perhaps what is even more bizarre about the whole debacle is not a trashy magazine acting trashy, but the utter jubilation with which Kate's tiny bump was met by women around the globe, who are completely unaccustomed to seeing a real life post-birth body.

I can honestly say that when I saw Kate Middleton placing her hand on her minuscule bump, a day after giving birth to an 8lb 6oz healthy baby boy, it was the first time I have ever seen anyone in the public eye display a true post-baby waistline. Not that it was much of a belly; some of us would look bigger after a good meal.

The thin obsession has officially gone too far when we expect women to emerge from maternity units in their skinny jeans, yet we have been conditioned to expect this almost.

According to pregnancy fitness expert Stephanie Sinnott of Baby Body Fit, women should wait at least six weeks after a normal birth to start exercising and at least 10 weeks if they've had a C-section.

"Before that your body is still quite fragile," she explains. "You've gone through a huge event, the joints and muscle are still quite relaxed and if you're breast-feeding I wouldn't be going counting calories and trying to lose a lot of weight, because you need those extra calories. Women need to give themselves a break, pregnancy is not an easy process and it takes nine months to put that weight on, it's not just going to fall off."

However, Kate's little keg does beg one question, where are all the other bumps gone? C-sections and timely tummy tucks it would seem, that, or


three pairs of Spanx; extreme measures which paint a devastatingly unattainable image for other women, many of whom will spend the majority of their post-partum hospital stay reading these very magazines.

The ridiculous fat shaming of women during pregnancy, which reality star Kim Kardashian endured over the last year, reveals the incredible intolerance we have in society towards the entire pregnancy process. Its little wonder women are under pressure to 'snap back'.

In a time when 'Yummy Mummy' cosmetic procedures are on the rise, you can actually buy specialised pregnancy Spanx and when celebrities seem to plan post-baby bikini shoots before they've even conceived, reality is often skewed.

Wombs need time to shrink back to normal size, it seems incredible to have to make that point, but there it is.

Hips and tummy muscles are looser after pregnancy, the spine needs time to realign itself, the woman needs time to mentally process what her body has been through and anyone who utters the word 'bikini' during this time should be shot.

What's next for the duchess? Well as soon as she has been publicly castigated for losing her royal belly too quickly and wearing the wrong outfit to the christening, there'll be talk of 'the spare' I'm sure.

Hopefully, she is strong enough not to care, unlike many new mums who'll have come face to face with OK! magazine last week.

Sunday Independent

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