If you haven't heard the news: There's a new royal on the scene; Princess Charlotte. The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Windsor, emerged from the Lindo wing at St Mary's hospital just ten hours after giving birth looking, well, royal. When I saw the footage of her descending the stairs with her husband and brand new daughter my first thought wasn't "Oh that poor girl in her Jenny Packham dress and Jimmy Choo heels". I saw a proud, confident mother who was absolutely shining in the way only a new mother can. She was introducing her baby to the entire world. Did you see her beaming? She was showing the world that birth can be beautiful. In her way, she was telling every pregnant woman her positive birth story and sending a ripple of change across the pond.
If you've been dreaming of welcoming your own prince or princess in royal fashion, here's what you need to know:
1. First, you'll want to FIND THE RIGHT SUPPORT. In this case, we're talking about a real live duke. Sometimes your co-parent makes you feel like a queen in labour. Sometimes they need a little guidance and support themselves. Either scenario is fine, just know their personality and be prepared. Perhaps this would be a good time to...
2. ASSEMBLE YOUR ENTOURAGE - You can bet your silver spoon Kate wasn't in that room doing her own make up just a few hours after giving birth. She had a group of trusted people pampering the hell out of her. As you begin writing your birth plan, give some thought to the fourth trimester. Think about writing a postpartum plan, including a list of people who can make you shine as a mum; whether that's coming to the hospital to wash your hair and put on make up, or preparing meals in your house, or taking the princely big brother for a walk so you can nap. Doulas are expertly trained to meet all these needs and take care of everything else you haven't thought of.
3. CHOOSE THE RIGHT CARE PROVIDER - This will mean something different to everyone. Are you thinking you might like some medication along the way? Have you been imagining a natural birth? Waiting to see how everything unfolds? Choose a provider who will have your back. Kate called for her midwives, and had several OBs waiting in the wings. She knew which team and birth place would make her feel most comfortable. For you that might fall anywhere on the spectrum between a homebirth with a CPM or a hospital birth with an OB. (And there's a wide range of care from here to there!)
3. TAKE ROYAL CARE - This falls just outside the "get an entourage" category. When pregnancy is not a fairytale, get some help. Every pregnancy is different, so this will mean something different to every woman. In the duchess's case, she suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum in both of her pregnancies. Hiring an antenatal doula could be a huge help. A doula can help you with self care, tending to other children, keeping up with the household, as well as normalizing your experience and being an emotional support. (Are we seeing a theme here? One thing a royal has in spades is support.)
4. PREPARE FOR THE BIRTH YOU WANT - Both Princess Diana and the Queen herself are rumoured to have used a method of hypnobirthing to prepare for birth. In royal tradition, Kate also used hypnobirth techniques in anticipation of her births. This type of childbirth preparation can help bring relaxation, calm and confidence, as well as decreasing painful sensations. Sounds good enough for a queen! There are many ways to ready your body and mind for labour, so research and find the philosophy that resonates most with you.
5. STAY IN YOUR PALACE - Keep the oxytocin flowing and stay in your home as long as you're comfortable. Kate laboured at home before going into the hospital, where she was admitted just two hours before the princess's birth. Staying in your home allows you comfort in familiarity and to be more flexible in how you labour; including eating and drinking, position changes, having a bath or shower, or walking outside. It will also mean you have more privacy and are disturbed less, which can help to establish active labour.
6. MOVE TO THE UK - Seriously though, there are certainly imperfections in any government healthcare system; but the NHS encourages that, when mum and baby are doing well, the best place for rest and recovery is in the home. The UK also encourages parents to take paid leave from work (get with it, US!). Midwives offer care both in hospital and then postpartum to ensure you are getting any help and encouragement you need settling in with your new baby. Kate was out of the hospital less than ten hours after giving birth to Princess Charlotte.
What else would you add to this royal recipe for a great birth?