It was a fairytale photo-op for a real life prince and princess: a beautiful, healthy baby, a doting, proud father, and a glowing, serene mother. But wait! Look closely. When Kate passes the swaddled heir to her charming William, she reveals a real-life new mom belly. Round as a six month pregnancy. Clear as day in the clingy, form-fitting dress she chose to wear.
I must say, in a sea of media idiocy, this royal postpartum moment got me a little verklempt. Seeing a new mom who seems oblivious to, or maybe even proud of, her post-baby shape is an outstanding shift in the normal course of media-momming events.
People are actually talking about this in a productive way. On Jezebel, this comment caught my attention, “This is an honest question—not body snarking. I think Kate looks absolutely gorgeous. Can anyone tell me why the the stomach still looks pregnant after the baby isn’t inside her anymore? I had no idea that happened … Is it fluid or something?”
Women are often surprised to learn that looking very pregnant is not only normal for the first few hours or days after giving birth but for weeks or more. Women have 40-50% more blood volume during pregnancy; all that excess fluid doesn’t go down overnight. But it’s mostly other things. The uterus—the largest muscle in your body when you’re pregnant—must now “involute” or shrink back down to a fraction of the size it was during pregnancy. That starts very quickly. The hormones released during breastfeeding help speed the process, but in all it can take about a month or so. (This tightening of the uterus muscle, by the way, has nothing to do with working out or dieting.) Also, the intestines, bladder, stomach and other organs have to re-inhabit the newly vacated space. Muscles need to drift back into non-pregnant positions and skin tightens.
Seeing Kate’s big belly is an important reminder that the process of making and giving birth to a baby does not end at birth. The slow shifting, shrinking and drifting of various tissues and parts is appropriately gentle and very well-designed. Of course it takes time!
Who knows what Kate is thinking under her highly surreal circumstances, but opting to let us see the curve of her just recently pregnant body sure was a nice touch. If I were the least bit cynical, I’d think this was nothing but a royal plan to hook regular people into thinking she’s just like us.
Photo Credit: PacificCoastNews.com
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