(SHNS) — We on this side of the pond thought we were witnessing the birth to Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, of a future king of Great Britain. As it turned out, we were also witnessing a breakthrough in postpartum etiquette.
Trumpeted the blog The Royalist: “Kate’s Unabashed Baby Belly Busts the Last Taboo of Pregnancy.” We would have thought the last taboo of pregnancy was that the father was someone other than whom the mother said he was, but, as so often happens in these intimate matters, we would be wrong.
The blog went on: “Kate Middleton stood up for new mums everywhere when she walked out of hospital (Tuesday), completely unembarrassed by her postpartum tummy.”
OK! Magazine, which just before the birth promoted the royal “post-baby weight loss regime,” saying “super-fit” Kate’s stomach “will shrink straight back,” found itself threatened with a boycott by British mothers who realized the British tabloid was spewing nonsense.
Starlets who are photographed post-childbirth frolicking on the beach with flat stomachs are, people who know about these things say, the beneficiaries of tummy tucks and Photoshop. The Associated Press reported that Nancy Manister, a maternity nurse who teaches at Fairfield University in Connecticut, said it takes six weeks to lose 25 pounds and a full year for a postpartum woman to get her former figure back.
Most women interviewed here and in Britain seemed delighted that Kate made no attempt to hide the evidence that she had just given birth to a good-sized baby — 8 pounds, 6 ounces — with a name — George Alexander Louis — to match.
“I’m thrilled that she went out there like that, because we never see real mommy tummies,” Helene Byrne, a personal trainer in Oakland, Calif., told AP.
We wonder if this new tolerance, even enthusiasm, for the side effect of childbirth has something to do with the declining birthrate. Once, pregnant women, at least those who could afford it, went into seclusion for the final months before birth — they were said to be “in confinement” — and stayed there until they thought their figures were more or less acceptable.
We, too, think Kate has done a public service, and look forward to how she handles her next hurdle: to breast-feed or not to breast-feed in public.