Baby Sussex has arrived! Huge congratulations to Meghan and Harry on the birth of their baby boy. Right now they will be in the lovely new parent bubble, gazing at their little son, completely amazed that they have created a perfect little person. It’s a blissful, even if slightly surreal time, and one to be treasured.
So far, no pics of the new prince. Good for them, for opting to keep the birth and those special early days private and personal for as long as possible. This precious time should be afforded to all new parents, even if they are one of the most famous couples in the world.
Because even though she’s a princess, Meghan’s experience of birth and new motherhood won’t be that different from any other woman’s – she will undoubtedly get cracked nipples and the baby blues just like the rest of us.
The early days spent adjusting to enormity of becoming a mum can be both wonderful and difficult in equal measure. Here are some of the ways we think new mothers – even royal ones – can make it easier for themselves.
Make sure you have mates who are on (exactly) the same page
Mum mates, with babies pretty much the same age, will keep you sane in the early days and beyond. This is why you do antenatal classes, be they NHS, NCT, The Happy Birth club or some other private group. It’s not so you can chat hypothetically about the birth beforehand, it’s so you can talk about what really happened afterwards. As well as everything else that new motherhood brings with it – the good and the bad.
You need women around you who can sympathise when you cry about being up all night feeding a screaming baby or that your stiches haven’t healed and you can’t sit down properly. Discussing your birth and life in the immediate aftermath with other women who are in the same boat creates the strongest bonds of friendship you can imagine. You are there for each other in a way that no one else is. Even your oldest, dearest friends who possibly have their own kids already won’t quite get it if they aren’t living through it.
Mention how many mls of formula your baby took at 3.26am and most people will glaze over pretty quickly – other new mums will understand the importance. Bring up piles/cracked nipples/night sweats and they won’t wince and head for the nearest exit.
Take a social media break
We know the Sussex’s are fans of Instagram – their new account has six million followers already. But for her own sanity we would urge Meghan and all new mums to take a complete break from social media.
It’s quite hard to scroll through pics of other women looking super slim and fabulous when your tummy feels like jelly and your boobs are leaking. Yes, you will get back to feeling and looking (pretty much) like your old self at some point in the future but with your hormones raging and feeling exhausted and sore, it can be hard to remember that. Seeing carefully curated images of others looking gorgeous is just not a great idea – even if you are a stunning princess/actress.
But almost more importantly, social media is just a total waste of time when you have a beautiful new baby to gaze at. Post pics of your newborn if you want to but certainly don’t feel any pressure to do so. We live in a crazy time where everyone is expected to announce life events online, but the world won’t stop turning if you step off for a while and just focus on being with your little one and taking care of yourself. You have nothing to prove so you don’t need to get dressed, put make up on and take ‘hashtag newmummy’ pics unless you actually want to.
Good on Meghan for not partaking in any of that so far. She is keeping her baby away from the media until she feels ready to introduce him to the world and we think it would be a good idea for all new mums to follow her lead and give themselves a break from the pressures of social media.
Let people take care of you too
Meghan is bound to have plenty of people to take care of her after the birth of her baby. There will be Harry and her mum Gloria as well as a team of staff to cook and clean, leaving her to focus on looking after her little son and, importantly, recover from the birth.
Very few new mums have a live-in cook or housekeeper, but it’s still vital to take it as easy as possible in the early days. Midwives recommend that ideally you spend the first two weeks in bed but for lots of women, especially those with other children, that’s not always an option.
All, however, should rest as much as possible and accept help from anyone who wants to give it. If a friend offers to drop off a meal or a walk the dog then accept the gesture. If no one offers then ask for help – most people will be all too willing. The phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is so true but is often forgotten as we try to juggle everything ourselves.
Ignore the pressure to ‘get back to normal’
While Meghan is unlikely to be loading the dishwasher or nipping to the shops, the pressure will be on to ‘get back to normal’ in other ways. People will comment on when she will resume Royal duties and on her figure – on how quickly she ‘springs back into shape’.
All of this presumes that she will somehow ‘get back’ to what she was before. She won’t and neither should she want to. Becoming a mum changes you physically and mentally in so many ways. Of course, you are still you, but an altered version who may well look, feel and think differently, if not forever then at least in the short term.
We really hope that Meghan is kind to herself as she adjusts to these changes in the way that all women should be. The whole world will be watching her, and while (thankfully) most women don’t face that level of scrutiny, there seems to be a constant pressure these days to bounce back to your old self. Get back to work; to the gym; to your social life.
Our advice to Meghan and to all new mums would be to ignore all this external pressure as much as you can. Take things at your own pace: listen to your body and your baby while you adjust to the most life changing event you’re ever likely to experience.
If you know someone who has just had a baby or a mum-to-be here are some truly useful (and lovely) gift ideas.
A gift box
Don’t Buy Her Flowers helps you put together boxes of goodies that mums actually want. For example, The Growing a Baby Package (from £21.40) with herbal teas, cooling foot cream and midwife Clemmie Hooper’s best-selling book How to Grow a Baby. Or the Recovery Package (from £48.50) with lots of lovely soothing products for tired bodies. You can select the items you want to make a bespoke box. We love the fact that you can add vouchers from ready meals company Cook, a godsend for any new mum who needs to eat healthy nutritious meals but doesn’t have time to make them.
This is one of the most useful things any new mum can have. We love the ones from Aden and Anais. These lovely soft material squares are multipurpose. You can use them to swaddle a newborn or tuck it under your baby’s chin when bottle feeding to catch any spills then pop it over your shoulder when winding to protect your clothes from any little dribbles.
In the summer, you can drape a muslin over the front of the pram to keep the sun out of your little one’s eyes or use it as a light weight blanket if the weather turns chilly.
And when you’re done bung it in the wash at 50 degrees and the straight in the tumble dryer afterwards. Easy to use and easy to look after. This is a gift that keeps on giving.
A breast feeding pillow
Supporting your back is a must when breast feeding so this Bbhugme Nursing Pillow is a godsend. It ties easily around the waist to give optimum support for your neck and shoulders whilst providing additional comfort for your baby. And with adjustable firmness this pillow adapts to your needs as your baby grows and is available in eight different colours. £63.95 from Scandiborn.
First baby image: Gustavo Cultivo