Yes, Kate Middleton left the hospital seven hours after giving birth. No, you don’t have to.
Everyone is going crazy about the Duchess of Cambridge heading home with her baby so soon after the birth, and looking so immaculate. But before you start comparing your birth story to Kate’s, please remember: your circumstances are very likely quite different from hers.
After all, royalty is royalty – and they have access to medical care and treatment that most of us (normal people) can only dream about. You know those horror stories when mums don’t make it to hospital on time, birthing on the corridor, no time for epidural, not enough medical staff on duty, surprise complications due to poor care? None of this applies when it comes to the Duchess. Honestly, none of this should apply to any woman; but hey, our reality is different.
Yes, Kate looked wonderful, pretty, and polished as she left the maternity ward. Just like she always does. But then again, there is a whole team behind that look: stylist, make-up artist, hairdresser, all there to make her look her best without her having to lift a finger. And if I had access to that, I would’ve totally asked them to make me look pretty, too, after the birth of my child (but I had to settle on applying water-resistant mascara, hoping it will see me through).
Another very important thing to remember is that Kate is not going back home to take care of everything. Again, she has a whole team assisting with household duties, childcare, shopping, cooking, whatever she needs. And how many of us have that? Not many. All Kate needs to do at home now is rest – and that she deserves. She can probably rest a lot better at home, actually, away from the prying eyes of journalists and the public.
Still, I applaud her for her strength of stepping out in high heels, greeting the crowds, and smiling before heading back home. That strength and composure is admirable, and indeed worthy of a future queen. Would she have done that if her husband was not the future king, and if she had no media attention whatsoever? Absolutely not. And you don’t have to, either.
The short hospital stay may come as a surprise for people living in countries other than the UK; but those who live in Britain know this “birth-and-go” culture very well. New mothers here often go home hours after having given birth. The difference is, the majority of them don’t look so glamorous. And often they don’t have a clue what they’re going to do, they have very little or no help, and they go back to a home where they’re responsible for the household, the childcare, and everything else as well. Not so ideal.
The pressure on mothers is too much as it is. We all know that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others – but we can’t help it. That’s what humans do: we compare ourselves to others in a similar position to see how we’re doing. And if we’re doing better than them, we feel good about ourselves. If, however, we’re doing worse, maybe a lot worse… than we can feel really bad about ourselves. Herein lies the danger. Postnatal mental health problems are soaring; and as much as I admire Kate for what she did yesterday, I keep thinking about all those mamas who feel terrible about themselves right now. Even though they shouldn’t.
In case you, dear reader, are one of them then I’d just like to say that I understand. But I also want to add that deep down, you know very well that you should never compare yourself to Kate Middleton. I’m sure that you did your best to bring your baby into this world, and that you will carry on doing everything you possibly can to raise them. And that includes having plenty of rest, and staying on that maternity ward as long as you need to.