Glowing and glossy or sweaty and exhausted, how did you look when you left the hospital with your new baby? I can say one thing for sure, when I was discharged after my C-section, I didn’t look anything like the immaculate Duchess of Cambridge, seven hours, yes SEVEN hours, after delivering baby Louis.
Kate’s appearance has split opinion in newspapers and on social media. Not the fact that she looked fabulous, that’s a given. In each photo, she was picture perfect, even the dodgy, blurry smart-phone snaps. The controversy has been more about the message it puts across to those of us without access to on-tap hair stylists and make-up artists. Is it inspiring or intimidating to see someone looking SO good and so incredibly pristine just after giving birth?
‘An Aussie radio host was not impressed. Meshel Laurie took to the TV to say: ‘You know what I find troubling is all those young women saying “Oh, it’s inspiring.” That’s not inspiring! You know what would be inspiring? If when they came in her room and said “Alright mate, up you get, hair and makeup, let’s get out there” she said “Don’t be any idiot, get out! I’ve just had a baby!”
I think that would be the response of most of the mums I know. Let’s be honest, most women are too damn busy trying to get their baby to latch on to their breast, or negotiating the challenges of the first post-birth wee or poo to be worried about highlighting their cheekbones. But then most women don’t have a battalion of photographers, screaming royalists and, what looked like, much of the world’s media there to chronicle their every angle.
You and I can grab our other half’s phone and delete, delete, delete all those fat or unflattering pics. Even Facebook photos by well-meaning relatives can be untagged. Well, not for Catherine. A bad shot and it’s syndicated worldwide. Then the headlines start. She’s exhausted. There were complications. Has she gained more weight this time? Why birth can be harder when you’re older. Was William not supportive? You get the idea. Is it any wonder she had her stylist Natasha Archer and hairdresser Amanda Cook Tucker right on hand to ensure she was groomed and gorgeous, from top-to-toe.
I agree that media stories and Insta-images can make new mums feel that they’re under ridiculous and unfair pressure to look good and get back into shape. But I don’t blame Kate for sending out the unrealistic message, I may have done the same in her (elegant nude and high-heeled) shoes. As it was, it was just me, my husband and Poppy, so the pressure was off.
After the birth, the focus is totally on the new little angel that has just entered your life. But as with many people, my appearance does have an impact on my wellbeing and sense of self. If you feel the same, then just before leaving the hospital, focus on a few quick little tricks to look and feel good. Think about:
- Crowning glory: You don’t need a bouncy, blow out to have hair that’s fit for a duchess. Most women’s hair is thicker and glossier in pregnancy. So, flick your head and channel your inner Kate. If you’ve been too achy or exhausted to wash it, then use a little dry shampoo to freshen it up and pump up the volume.
- Lipstick, powder and paint: Not everyone likes and wears make-up, but if you’re someone who does, a little touch-up can give your self-esteem and your appearance a boost. Kate rocked a classic, natural look with defined brows, dark eyeliner, a flush of blush, and a nude lip gloss.
Get together a mini-bag of essentials: some light-reflecting concealer to hide the dark circles, mascara ( a make-up artist told me that navy mascara can make you look less tired), peachy blush (I swear by Nars Orgasm) and a lippy can take just a minute to apply. After the birth, I was high on adrenaline, excited but also a bit nervous. For me, putting my lipstick on was important, it made me look and feel more confident and together.
- Comfort and style: Not many of us can afford a new, red with white lace, Jenny Packham dress to make the journey home. But even if you’re sick to the back teeth of your pregnancy capsule wardrobe, don’t be over-ambitious and pack a pre-pregnancy outfit, it’ll take a while to get back into your jeans and comfort is crucial.
I was still in my pregnancy jeans for my journey home. I even had elastics on the band, to make them bigger! Lycra is your friend here, choose soft and stretchy things that feel good- and allow easy feeding access!
If you want pictures, to record the magic moment for posterity, then choose a top in a colour that makes your eyes pop. Try an interesting necklace or earrings to draw attention towards your face-and away from the sweatpants adorning your bottom half!
- Feet first: Your feet may be puffy, so choose shoes that are comfy and adaptable. I’m with Serena Williams here, the tennis star commented on Catherine’s Lindo Wing appearance, saying: “That’s one heck of a woman! Let me tell you: I was not in heels after I gave birth. Wow!”
- Be kind to yourself: Don’t stress about your appearance, you have just nurtured and delivered a brand-new human being. That’s an incredible achievement. Focus on the new baby in your arms and looking after yourself as you recover from the birth. Believe me, you’ll find nipple cream and ice-packs more useful than hair-straighteners!
- If in doubt, fake it! If you hate the pictures, delete or doctor them. A quick airbrush, a touch-up or a flattering filter can change an image from frumpy to fabulous.
Bloggers and influencers have taken to Twitter to share their going-home pics, so here’s my mug shot! Like me, most mums have looked a little dazed and dishevelled after the birth. Let me know how you looked and felt as you stepped out for the first time with your amazing new baby. I look forward to hearing from you!