Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Kerry McLean: Even celebrities like Christine should be allowed to live in their own baby bubble for those first few weeks

By Kerry McLean

This week we saw the most gorgeous photo appear in the newspaper, of Christine Lampard and her beautiful little bundle, a baby girl named Patricia. Christine is always stunning but I've never seen her look so well. Not a scrap of make-up on, her hair scraped back but with a face so full of joy and happiness that you can almost feel the excitement bubbling out of her and husband Frank.

The couple didn't go down the route of selling their first picture as a family to one of the glossy magazines. Instead, they shared it on social media, with the new mummy still in her hospital bed, holding onto her little girl and daddy standing proudly beside her.

All of us who are lucky enough to have come through the rigours of pregnancy and birth probably have a very similar image tucked away somewhere and, for those who've had their babies in the age of social media, many will have shared it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

When I had my own baby girl, almost three years ago, I posted a similar pic, showing off our newest little angel and taking the opportunity to say thank you to the hospital staff and all the friends and family who'd sent good wishes, just as the Lampards did. The difference came in what happened next.

When I took Eve home from Antrim Hospital on December 10, it was freezing cold.

I worried and fretted about her being warm enough but not too warm and about the long drive home - poor Ralph, my husband, was harangued by me from the back seat over the course of the entire journey; asked to slow down, watch that car, keep an eye out for black ice. I remember every second of the 40 minutes it took to get us home.

What I can't for the life of me recall is what I was wearing and what state I was in. Not the best I'd assume.

After the initial euphoria of becoming a parent and the happy glow it gives you, knackered new mums rarely look photo ready in those first few days and nor should we have to.

If your clothes are clean, you're winning. If you've remembered to brush your hair and your teeth, it's a bonus.

When Christine took that unforgettable trip back to her house from the hospital with little Patricia, she had more than just her happy family members to meet her. Her street was populated with paparazzi, all jostling to get a close up snap of the new mum.

When it appeared online a few hours later, I was genuinely shocked at the number of people who made it their business to comment on what Christine was wearing, how her hair looked, her choice of coat and her accessories.

I know it seems a bizarre thing to say about someone who appears to have a blessed life and more than a few million in the bank but I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.

Everyone, even celebrities, should have the luxury of living in their own baby bubble for at least a few weeks after junior makes an appearance, without having all and sundry commenting on how they're looking.

There are places in the world where new mums are expected to go through a period of confinement, staying indoors and out of sight after they give birth, in some cases for up to 40 days. It's commonplace in China and Japan, Latin America and parts of the Far East.

When I first heard about this, I thought it awful that mothers were hidden away but now I can't help but wonder if something similar shouldn't be made an option here?

A precious window of time that takes the pressure off women from feeling they have to be back in their pre-pregnancy clothes and with their life perfectly ordered, hours after such a life changing experience.

We should encourage new parents to be a little bit more selfish, to say no to visitors, no to cleaning and no to getting out of your jammies unless you want to and we should actively discourage any criticisms from others.

Those early days with your baby go by in a blink. Enjoy them!

Belfast Telegraph

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