Meghan Markle and Prince Harry released their first photo as a brand new family of three, proudly holding their sleeping baby boy for the world to see. And Meghan looked just life new moms all over the word – happy, proud, and maybe a little bit sleepy.
Just like after all three of Kate Middleton’s births I’ve seen women taking to the internet:
“Why does she have to pose for pictures so soon after birth? Why don’t we just give new moms some space?”
Well the answer to that is simple:
Because we – collectively, as a society – have demanded that from her. We have demanded a beautiful, posed, and completely unrealistic photos of new moms because it makes us feel good.
We don’t care that the new mom is sleep-deprived and leaking fluids from every hole on her body. We want to see the baby. (He better be sleeping or we’ll say he’s a bad baby and judge the mom.)
We want to see a compose new mother. (And she better be smiling and glowing or we’ll say she probably doesn’t lover her baby enough.)
With the rise of social media, women have raised the bar of what is an acceptable post-birth photo.
Now days I scroll through Instagram and see bloggers and influencers, heck even ‘regular’ moms, having fully-posed photo shoots in their hospital beds just hours after the birth of their child.
We have done this to ourselves, ladies.
We’re constantly trying to one up each other and prove that we can do it all.
I can definitely labor for hours, deliver a child, and still pose happily – in full hair and make-up, and a designer robe – with my new babe in the hospital.
I’m not tired. I’m not hungry, my nipples aren’t bleeding and leaking milk. My body doesn’t feel like I slid down a fireman’s pole vagina first.
I’m fine. We’re fine. Everything is fine.
We are bound and determined to project to the world this idea that birthing a tiny human is a mere blip in our day. Nothing a little concealer and a bold lip can’t fix.
And what’s worse – we demand this level of postpartum perfection from other women.
People were simply dumbfounded that Meghan Markle had dared to say she wouldn’t take a public photo just hours after birth.
She wanted to wait – gasp – a couple of days. God forbid.
It’s not just Duchess’ and celebrities either. Take a scroll through your social media feed and pay attention to your friends’ birth announcements.
Our generation has created an epidemic of women using social media to make people believe that birthing a child is far more glamorous and fabulous than it really is.
Even the photos that are taken by the new father on his two-year-old iPhone (a sheer abomination) feature a mom who is in full make-up with her hair done, strategically posed so it doesn’t look like she was sweaty or dirty or bloody or put forth any level of effort to birth that child.
It’s ok Ashley, we know that baby didn’t just fall out of you. It’s ok if your post-birth ‘glow’ is really just sweat. Your secret is safe with us.
I fell victim to this idea of a perfect postpartum photo during the birth of my second child. I woke up early for my scheduled c section to shower, curl my hair, and put on make-up. Including false eyelashes. I wanted to be photo ready.
That is until my scheduled c section got pushed back four hours. I was hangry, tired, and ripped those fake eyelashes off in a fit of frustration.
Why do women cave to this pressure to present an unrealistic – perhaps even dishonest- version of life as new moms?
Why do we as women demand perfectly styled photos of other women who have just given birth.
Because nobody – including the new mother herself- wants to face the reality of postpartum.
Nobody wants to talk about how your body feels like you’ve been in a car wreck and then handed a baby to keep alive.
It’s not pretty to talk about how much numbing spray you had to use so you could pee and the fact that you’re going through diapers twice as fast because you’ve been filling some of them with ice for your vagina.
The milk-stained t-shirt, dirty sweats, and granola bar wrappers sprinkled around the house (because it’s the only thing you can eat with one hand and you’re hungry all. the. time) are not exactly photo-worthy.
And nobody wants to address the reality of the hormone changes, the mood swings, and the sleepless nights that you spend wondering how you’re going to manage to keep this kid alive and not completely screw him up.
Postpartum isn’t sexy, it’s not photo-worthy, and quite frankly it’s not talked about enough.
Life for new moms is hard.
Postpartum life is a roller coaster of emotions. One minute you’re telling your husband you want to have ten more kids and the next you’re screaming how you never get time to yourself anymore.
Postpartum is swollen bellies and granny panties and numbing spray.
It’s nipple cream, and many, many sleepless nights, and a whole lot of wondering when you will feel like yourself again.
And that’s ok.
Ladies, let’s band together and start addressing the realities of postpartum and life as new moms.
Let’s not sugar coat it by demanding beautiful photos, let’s talk about the realities that come after childbirth.
Because with those hard, and sometimes dark, realities comes the sweetest most incredible time in your life.
A time when you are everything and the only thing your baby needs. When your baby can (and will) sleep for hours on your chest while you snuggle him and smell him and make him promises of a good life.
Can we all agree to stop putting so much pressure on new moms to be perfect and ‘presentable’ and instead to just let them be?
Let the new moms cherish these days – without any pressure to live up to an unrealistic standard of perfection- because, as we all know, this precious time goes by way too fast.
Click here to read the story about the birth The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s beautiful baby boy.