The Baby Body

I don’t often talk about ‘social interest’ topics on Florence Finds as I’m never sure how you will all engage with a a given topic. Last week however it seemed everyone had something to say about the birth of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby, Prince George, but an even hotter topic was Kate’s post baby body. Her simple appearance with baby George infront of the Lindo wing sparked a flurry of comments, ranging from bravo to admiration to weight loss advice – particularly the now ubiquitous comments from OK magazine on her post-natal shape up routine.

Image via The Metro

If I’m honest, I’m not surprised at OK. They are a trashy magazine and their weekly choice of content and celebrity stories pretty clearly states their position on championing ethical female role models. That would be not at all then. Am I surprised at them trying to make a quick buck out of capturing the public interest in The DoC, her always immaculate presentation and enviable figure? No. It’s sad that they are also targeting every woman who has recently given birth and will sadly be comparing themselves to Kate and how she looked leaving hospital; women who are often questioning their every decision already and desperately trying to rescue a self of self and self-esteem after such a life changing event and physical transformation. But am I surprised at that even? Not at all.

My reaction was two-fold. My first thought, prior to seeing the media storm that followed was how daunting it must have been to go out there, only 26 hours after becoming a mother, and face that bank of photographers. What can have been going through Kate’s mind? I am not a mother but have seen and can only imagine the ferocious change that women undergo, the fierce protectors they become of this little life they are responsible for, the immediate worry that arrives with the baby. How terrifying to be tired and emotional and so very vulnerable in so public a situation. I wonder if she saw their lives flash before her with the ever present papperazzi encroaching on every moment of his life?

Which leads me to my second thought. How mortifying after showing everyone your first born son to have some people find the main event to be the size of your post-partum bump? Did Kate make a conscious decision to display it rather than try to hide? Who knows. I suspect whether she ‘displayed’ her bump was the last thing on her mind. No doubt she hadn’t given it a passing thought amongst her emotions of joy and fatigue.

Aside from my feelings for Kate however, it has been fascinating to see the public reaction. I’ll admit, before I had close friends and family who had babies, I didn’t really realise that bumps don’t just shrink away after the birth, and that’s after seeing many babies born – when mums are nursing their newborn or lying flat post delivery it’s not as obvious at all, but once stood up it’s clear that the uterus and abdominal muscles are going to take some time to shrink back to their pre-baby shape. So it’s not surprising I suppose that some women are taken aback by a new mum’s tummy. After all if you’re not party to those first few days and weeks when a woman is post delivery then all the experience you have is of celebrities ‘snapping back’ into shape, described by the media like a piece of elastic stationary with no thought to responsible journalism. It was amazing to see the outpouring (both publicly and amongst my friends) of pride amongst the virtual sisterhood that identified with her ‘mum tum’, women applauding her who spoke about it like a badge of honour and the palpable sense of affirmation that even someone as ‘perfect’ as Kate had looked like they did post-baby.

I don’t have a conclusion to my musings, other than that it seemed to me to represent the most intrusive and distasteful part of being in the public eye, and that Kate as always handled it all with aplomb. I would love however to hear what you guys thought about it all. Are you one of the mums who cheered her on? Had you never seen a woman so close to a delivery before and were you surprised? Were you delighted to see some normalcy when it comes to a post-baby body?

Do share your thoughts readers…


PS Apologies if this is very mother and baby centric when there is obviously a very present father involved!

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31 thoughts on “The Baby Body

  1. Very well said! I agree that Kate had far more important matters on her mind and was unlikely to have been thinking of her post baby bump. My baby girl is now 5 months old and I still am not back to my pre baby flat tummy.
    I understand most people who have never had a baby might be surprised to see that the bump doesn’t immediately go once the baby is born – but some people should know better!
    I had a horrific labour which resulted in my daughter being very ill and going straight into intensive care. My mother in law, who visited us in hospital a couple of days later, patted my tummy when she saw me and said “I see you’ve still got a tummy then”. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. But the next day she did it again and said “I see it’s going down a bit”. I told her that with my 3 day old baby lying in intensive care I couldn’t care less about the size of my tummy and would rather she didn’t keep commenting on it. She didn’t say anything else but she’s never apologised for it either.

    • That’s exciting Kirsten!

      Also off topic, but interestingly with a few of my photographer friends having husbands in this line of photography I do wonder how to credit these days, but this image (on the Metro site) just says ‘Picture: PA’. Is that something to do with who the photographer sold it to?

  2. One of the things that I found interesting is that Kate actually displayed more of a bump after having had her baby than she did during pregnancy (although she was out of the public eye for a while towards the end). I was so, so pleased that she didn’t hide it away and just magically re-appear looking like her normal slim self after a few weeks. Plus I thought her outfit was far more flattering than the potato sack style dress Diana wore that was clearly designed to hide her tummy.

    I’ve been so shocked at the reaction (or should I say ignorance?) of the public and media. I think there’s a clear lack of understanding of what our bodies go through when we have a baby – as soon as you actually sit and think about it, wouldn’t it be insane if you had a baby and everything was back to normal straight away? I think perhaps biology lessons need a bit more detail…

    I have to say the main thing I was focussing on when they appeared outside the hospital was the bloody noise the crowd was making. I can’t imagine how stressed out Kate and William must have been by that – if anybody had screamed and clapped at my brand new baby I think I would have had a meltdown. They did so, so well to cope under those circumstances.

    • Could not agree more, it must have been so over whelming and stressful and knowing that they were obliged to do it – gah. Just served to remind me of the way Diana was treated and how the press need some serious regining in.

  3. I think she handled it all with the grace and good standing that is clearly part of her makeup. Genetically Kate has an enviable figure, she is beyond beautiful…and naturally so, although her figure may be quite out of reach for the average joe (the whole family are naturally slim and maintain the look by being active and sporty) but it’s clear she doesn’t bow down to media pressure to look a certain way and that is something to be applauded. I for one cannot stand the criticism of women’s bodies at any time, whether pregnant, post-delivery or just carrying a few extra pounds. It’s one of the most disgusting parts of our culture. I too have had family members prodding and poking, pointing out when I’ve gained a few extra pounds, it’s insulting and demeaning. I’ve also heard little girls as young as six talk about not wanting to get fat because all they hear from their mothers is that they are ‘on a diet’- which is an altogether scarier subject!

    I do think though that it could have been a considered decision. If Kate, by showing her baby bump post-delivery, can use her status and influence to have an impact on just a handful of young women to show what is the ‘real’ norm, not the celebrity driven unrealistic and unattainable images of women, then she is a true role model in my eyes.

  4. Great morning read!
    I have 2 children and had then only 15 months apart.
    Being a mother is the most amazing feeling and like you said you do become this crazy protector and not even your husband will protect them like you do.
    I was never a slim person, I would have classed myself as average size 12 girl.
    Once I had Freddie I thought I’m 25 my body will bounce straight back! well… it doesn’t happen and unless you have it in the genes, you have to work at it. I remember starting swimming lessons with freddie and hating the fact I had to get in a ‘TANKINI’ at 25 years old to cover up my horrible tummy, then one of the other mums around 37 walked in with a bikini and flat tummy! Great for her of course but and she is a very lucky lady!
    I also remember when I saw my first stretch mark on my belly button and was so upset. I put bio oil on all the time but I guess if you’re going to get them, you get them. This to me was the the worst part about it all. Like I said I was never slim but now I just have saggy skin! Im still trying to get over this and have to wear high top jeans and always have to wear a spaghetti top under anything i wear incase somebody sees it. This for me is the hardest thing.
    your body completely changes when you have a baby even my hips got wider and haven’t gone back. you want to fit in all your old clothes but you do just change shape. I think for a lot of new mums this can be really hard to come to terms with. Also finding time to workout is so hard! I have the kids full time, my husband works shifts, Im running a business which I love and would rather spend time doing this than on a running machine!
    Just reading this back and makes me seem a bit down, but I’m not I love my life, husband and children but it’s hard work and seeing thing like that is a magazine is just horrible, yes she had a tummy but you hold an 8.6lb baby in your tummy and see what happens! I think for most mums they would have thought, good for kate showing the world that this is what a womens body looks like 26 hours after labour and for people who haven’t had a baby may have been shocked but people that was real.
    Being a mother is the best thing ever and I am so happy for Kate and Will and I am sure she will get back into shape but at the moment this will be that last thing on her mind, she needs to spend precious time with little George and have as many cuddles as possible.
    Sorry to go on.

  5. I felt really sorry for Kate that day. She looked incredible and even with a bump, that dress still sold out in minutes after the world watched. Its not like she’s even put on any weight – it’s all bump!

    When I watched on the news, I felt nothing but gratitude towards her for, dealing with that so soon after giving birth. I haven’t given birth myself yet but I am preparing for this ordeal in 3 months time and I can’t imagine the extra stress she would have going on at the same time.

    I got the impression that she was most concerned about the noise of the crowds screaming and her poor little baby trying to sleep amongst all that noise! She did so well!

    This is the most amazing thing a woman goes through in her life, why are we all so mean when a few pounds are gained? It is completely natural!

    Personally, I am a bit concerned I won’t get back to my original size as that is what I am most comfortable at. However, if it takes me 4, 5, 6 months or even a year or so then so be it – I will have the best reward and that means much more to me than weight gain! (or what people think)


  6. I’m not a Mum and as a life long size 14, size 12 is the beautifully slim I have always aspired to. I do worry about what will happen to my body when I have children – I feel I have a daily battle not to get bigger, let alone loose a few extra pounds, so how that will shift when a baby is around, who knows. Everyone says breast feeding helps, but I suspect they are the same people who say the weight just drops off with all the nervous energy in the run up to your wedding – it certainly didn’t for me. If you over eat, you gain weight. Simple. Not overeating (for me at least) is not so simple.
    Kate is beautiful, and I have to say personally I don’t think you can tell if there is much of a bump in that photo. I’d be delighted to look like that any day, let alone the day after giving birth.
    I do suspect though that most people in the media spotlight have a lot more time and money to dedicate to looking this good than the majority of us.

    • ps I hope no one thinks reading this that I’m suggesting a baby bump is the result of over eating – clearly not – just my musings on weight maintenance /loosing weight.

  7. I actually gave birth last week as well, to a lovely little girl and am very proud of my post baby bump. I was relieved that Kate (knowingly or not) put hers on show. Too many people expect new mums to bounce straight back and it was refreshing to see such a public figure show the nomalacy of the female body so soon after delivery. Unlike another celebrity whose pregnancy dominated headlines and magazine covers (a certain kim kardashian) who i suspect wont emerge until she’s looking her pre-baby best. It is difficult to feel myself in a body which doesn’t quite fit my old clothes nor my maternity ones, but the recent dialogue surrounding the post baby body of new mums has given me confidence in my own new shape. After all it gave me my wonderful baby.

  8. I was so pleased Kate appeared with her post baby bump, as its real (or as real as it could get when you have the worlds media snapping away at you!) I am 17 weeks pregnant and really struggling with my changing shape, so I felt relieved as Hannah said that Kate put hers on show. In fact, I took a photo of Kate on my phone from the TV (sad I know!), to remind me what she looked like, as I am all too aware of my changing shape at the moment and the scrutiny all women come under from the media.

  9. Thank you for writing this post Rebecca! Firstly I think ANY woman who knew the entire world was waiting outside the hospital would put make up on and have your hairdresser pop in!
    As for the bump, as a mum of two tiny people I had no idea it would stay as big for so long even though my mum warned me! My sil commented both times how big my tummy was a day after giving both, thanks love!
    In all honesty ok magazine is a pile of tripe that we all know, but it all adds to the ever growing pile of negative media aimed at women’s figure’s written by women for women and having two girls this makes me sad and angry. Yes we all get down our figures and unless it’s seriously affecting our health we know there are more important thing’s going on yet the constant media barrage is getting harder and hardest to ignore. Grrr…rant over – for now.
    (And I will admit to crying a tiny bit when I saw them emerge with the little prince)

    • Actually, me either. It was only via twitter that I was alerted to the debate after noting the outrage in response to OK’s comments.

      I believe they originally tweeted (and deleted) something along the lines of ‘Whoa, how many babies did she have in there?’ referencing her post-partum bump.

  10. I wanted to comment as i’m really not sure if this article helps or not. Because in some ways you are in turn drawing further attention to Kate and her bump, and it’s a bit difficult to separate what you are doing from what the media you criticise has done. They write to attract readers, or to create controversy which in turn attracts readers. The ultimate response to whether it is fair to discuss Kate and her (beautiful) bump would perhaps be to not join in and stimulate further discussion.

    • Yes that’s absolutely right, and I have considered that. However, for me the media response was the catalyst for me to discuss the wider issue, not just how it affects Kate but every new mum, past present and future.

  11. The media storm surrounding Kate’s post birth figure somewhat passed me by. I can only hope the same applied to her.

    Shame on OK! and anyone else who suggests she will need to lose her baby weight. With her athleticism, I expect her tummy is already well on it’s way to it’s natural flat state and I can’t fathom where else they’re suggesting she’s gained weight? If she’s breast feeding, she needs to be eating cake with every cup of (de-caff!) tea brought to her and that sort of media is just so harmful to all women whether they’ve had a baby or not.

    When I saw her step out of the hospital, I was pleased she’d chosen a dress that emphasised her bump. I can’t imagine that her ‘leaving hospital’ outfit wasn’t carefully considered when she packed her bag. What I hope however is that women across the globe don’t start comparing themselves. There’s a place for aspiration but let’s not forget, she’s a woman in an incredibly privileged position. She has all the help and assistance she needs at her fingertips if she chooses to use it. Motherhood is tough enough without making comparisons totally above our means.

  12. Thanks for posting this! The whole weight loss thing post pregnancy (as is pregnancy weight gain in general) is definitely playing in the back of my mind which I know is ridiculous! I do feel like Kate has made it a bit easier for us all about to give birth although i’m sure the next time we see her she will be back to her pre pregnancy weight!

    Slightly off topic but still related and as I’m going through it at the moment I have to say I have been shocked and appalled by the things said to me whilst I’m pregnant including “You’re massive” “Could you get any bigger? (that was this weekend at a wedding – I’m nearly 38 weeks!) and random well meaning people saying things like “Can I just say you look beautiful!” I know they mean well but since when is commenting on anyone’s size appropriate!! Having said that tomorrow i’m posting a picture of me at said wedding and it took every inch of confidence to post it as looking at myself in pictures is not particularly what I feel like doing at the mo!!! However I felt like it was important to show the real me!

    I could talk about this all day! But if you haven’t read it this is a great article!

    Rachie xo

  13. This sounds terrible but until I saw the photos I honestly had NO idea that you still have a bump after giving birth. Thinking about it now, of course you do – it absolutely makes sense!

    My group of friends are in their early 30’s and are only just now starting to get pregnant and nobody I have been very close to has given birth. My only real exposure to new mothers has been via the media and typically these are celebrities who have spanxed(?) up or otherwise to appear perfect.

    I am pretty horrified that I have found myself so taken in by these images of perfection – normally I would exercise some critical judgement and be aware of airbrushing and the like but it just goes to show how much of an impact what we see in the media has.

    It makes me worry all the more about the girls growing up today with no reality check to offset what is shown in the media as how to women should look.

    • Melanie, this is exactly one of the issues I was trying to highlight – as I said in the post, unless you have seen someone immediately post delivery, why would you know they still have a bump? And it’s not often that happens as usually only family or close friends are around at that point… otherwise your only point of reference is the media.

      I’m so glad someone admitted they weren’t that clued up – loads of people aren’t, until you get to that stage. x

  14. Great read.
    I myself have a 20 month old, and I prepared myself for the post-baby bump. So much so, I was suprised by my body, and the bump did go eventually, and actually quicker than I expected. I was mortified by the stretchmarks that arrived a week before delivery tho, sooo close. Like someone else said, I passed me by too, and I too only hope the negative headlines, passed Kate too xx

  15. Hey Rebecca – I was interested to read your thoughts, especially as I’d not realised that a mum has a tummy (although not surprising, just not given it any thought before). Curiously I had wondered if it was ok to ask my best friend (a mum and a medical scientist) whether this was usually the case – often, probably due to the media, this side of mumhood is not discussed and I can imagine causes a lot of distress if you don’t return to your pre-shape (ish) straightaway. Hence, it left me feeling ‘is it ok to….’ – a bit like The Last Leg after the Paralympics. If I felt that as a non mum, then at such a time of emotional upheaval and focus on your newborn I wonder how many new mums feel under pressure to either not say anything and so left feeling inadequate or a pressire to get in shape. Whether or not Kate wore the dress on purpose (given she had a whole hair / appearance team I’m not sure) but I think she did a good thing in raising the question – it is ok, but don’t judge!

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