Yesterday morning the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a little girl, her royal highness, the princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, who is now fourth in line to the throne of England. Although the royal family is very private, there are still many things that we can learn from her birth.
1. Have patience. The Duchess was apparently past her estimated due date, and yet, by waiting to go in to labor naturally, Kate was able to have a natural and quick birth. She didn't require an induction, or other interventions. Imagine the patience needed when there are literally millions of people waiting for you to go in to labor. Talk about pressure. To their credit, the young couple embraced the wait instead of fighting it, and even sent breakfast and a birthday cake to the die hard fans camped out at the hospital.
2. Stay busy and active. Earlier in the week Kate was reportedly swimming, driving herself and her toddler back and forth to the pool (at the queen's palace). We can't all be a duchess and swim at the palace pool, but the lesson remains. Ignore the clock and keep moving.
3. Stay home as long as possible. Even when you are royalty, your home environment makes for better laboring than the hospital. You are more relaxed, and fewer prying eyes means better contraction and fewer interventions. We don’t know how long Kate was laboring at home, but last time she spent a good ten hours laboring at the hospital, as opposed to less than three this time.
4. Call the midwife. Kate apparently had a team of two midwives that she bonded with at her first birth, and used them for this birth. The surgeons stayed huddled in a room next door. The looming threat of surgery is not ideal, but at least they were only there in case of emergency. The general assumption was that all is well and normal, even for a duchess.
5. Take some time for family bonding. The royal princess was born at 8:30, and the media was only informed at 11. In between? Phone calls to family and quiet bonding time before the media circus exploded outside. They did this last time with George as well, despite the millions of people worldwide who were waiting for the birth of an heir. It’s a good lesson. Nothing will happen if you wait an extra hour or two to call grandma with the good news. You will never get that time back with baby, so put away the cell phone and enjoy.
6. Bring sibs for a visit, and make him the priority. Media outlets delighted yesterday at getting a rare glimpse of Prince George as he came to the hospital to visit his mother and new sister. What was especially touching was William picking him up when George asked, and the affection he gave him. Big brother or not, he's still a very little boy, and needed to be carried, cuddled, and given one on one time with dad on this momentous day. William could have easily sent for his son, but he left Kate and his new daughter to pick him up himself.
7. Take some time for yourself. Mothers worldwide were in shock over how amazing Kate looked not ten hours after giving birth. Clearly, we don't all have a stylist and a hairdresser who come visit us at the hospital. However, none of us have to face hundreds of photographers just hours after giving birth either, so I’m inclined to cut the Duchess a little bit of slack. The lesson is in there though. Kate had just given birth and made sure to take some time for personal grooming. For us plebeians, that might mean handing over the baby so we can have a shower, or bringing a fresh outfit to leave the hospital. In those early days, it's so easy to forget our needs and ourselves, but it's important to have some self-care time.
8. You are not sick. This one is challenging, since hospitals in America have regulations about carrying your baby out of the hospital, and often, force mothers in to a wheelchair for malpractice reasons. But whenever possible, remember this: you are not sick. You did something normal and healthy, and don't need an extended hospital stay. While it's perfectly fine to take that wheelchair ride if you are sore or a little unsteady and want the extra support, you do not have to take it if you are feeling well. American hospitals have much to learn from the ones in the UK in this respect.
9. Lean on your partner. Kate was seen holding the princess while using William for additional support, and similar to the last birth, William carried out the princess in her car seat when it was time to leave. Let your partner support you. You may feel like superwoman, and you are, but a little support is a good thing. Besides, they want to feel like a superhero too.
In all of these lessons, the main one remains the same. It's all about the attitude you have about birth. Are we dealing with a medical emergency, or a natural process of life? Kudos to the Duchess for adopting the latter attitude in a situation where she could be pampered and treated as a patient as long as she desired.
Kate is a capable, healthy woman, and her attitude about childbearing was clear throughout her pregnancy even though we weren’t given details about the actual birth. Yes, she has lots of household help, she carries small, and lives a life of luxury. But she also stayed active throughout her pregnancy despite hyperemesis gravidum, has a small toddler and husband who travels. She chose to take charge of this part of her life, and stayed in charge throughout. That, perhaps, is the greatest lesson we can learn.
All this being said, I'm really hoping that she went home, took off the high heels, and put on some yoga pants and a tank top and got a nap. All mothers deserve that, even ones who give birth to royal princesses.