Why we’re in awe of Duchess Kate looking so beautiful... just hours after giving birth to her little prince
Three Northern Ireland mums tell Stephanie Bell about their very different experience of childbirth to that of the Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge delighted and surprised the world yesterday by appearing with her new son looking radiant just hours after giving birth. Dressed in a loose red dress by Jenny Packham, high heels and with her hair styled to perfection she looked flawless as she stepped out of the hospital into the glare of the waiting press.
It was a beaming Kate who carried her new son wrapped in a white blanket alongside Prince William to show their new son off to the world.
The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth at 11am on Monday in St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London. The newest member of the Royal family, whose birth was announced on Twitter, weighed a healthy 8lbs 7oz.
It was just seven hours later that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge emerged full of smiles to pause for pictures before heading home to Kensington Palace.
As the world speculated on how Kate could manage to look so fresh and well so soon after giving birth, we talked to three well-known local mums about their experience and how they coped after giving birth.
'I was make-up free, my hair a sweaty pile, but ecstatic'
Radio Ulster presenter Kerry McLean (43) is married to fellow presenter Ralph (49). They have children Tara (12), Dan (10) and Eve (2). She says:
I had just started my commute to work on Monday morning when the news came on, stating that the newest baby Windsor was on its way and it wasn't long before the safe arrival of a little boy was announced, a little brother for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
For the remainder of that car journey, I was thrown back to thoughts I'd had on the day my own third little bundle of joy made her arrival into the world.
No matter how much or how little money you have in the bank, every mother has the same mix of excitement and fear as you step in through those swing doors of the hospital ward.
Before having my first, I'd wrongly assumed that my nerves would lessen with each labour. How wrong I was! My nerves doubled with each pregnancy and tripled with each birth, as my awareness of what I had and what I could lose came into sharp focus.
I have pictures of me, a few hours after my youngest, Eve was born. I'm make-up free, with my hair a sweaty pile plonked on top of head, a mess, but ecstatically happy.
I hate seeing myself in photos normally, but I love that one.
My utter contentment with my lot in life is shining out of me and the last thing on my mind was what I looked like.
So, when I saw the images of Kate leaving the hospital a mere eight hours after she'd given birth, my reaction was a weird mix of pleasure, awe and compassion.
Pleased that everything had gone well, in awe that anyone could look so well groomed so soon after giving birth, even with a team of stylists, hairdressers and make-up artists standing by, and sorry that any woman has to undergo the mother of all makeovers in a labour ward.
In those precious first few hours it's hard to take your eyes off your new baby. You're examining tiny fingers and toes, seeing if he or she has mummy's nose or daddy's chin, and the last thing you want coming at you is a team of people, intent on making you look as if you've just stepped off a catwalk.
Personally, it was a good few days before I felt ready for the world to see me in something other than an old T-shirt and jogging bottoms. In fact, it was only when this paper came out three weeks after I'd had Eve to take some pictures of us at home, that I cracked open my make-up bag for the first time since leaving the hospital.
It felt good to get done up again and looking like the old me, but it had also been great to escape that pressure for a while after Eve was born. So, now that Kate's back home, I hope she enjoys the next few weeks behind closed doors with her new baby Prince, make-up free, pyjamas on and the world's media and the pressure of the camera lens held firmly at bay."
‘I think I was in my pyjamas for UTV’s hospital photo call’
Former UTV presenter Lynda Bryans (55) is a lecturer in journalism at Belfast Metropolitan College. She is married to Ulster Unionist Party MLA Mike Nesbitt (60) and they live in Castlereagh. They have two sons, Peter (23) and Christopher (20). She says:
I heard breaking news on the radio on Monday morning that the Duchess was going in to have her baby and couldn't believe that she was leaving hospital just a few hours later.
It is a long time since I had my babies and I know there is pressure on hospital beds now and they don't keep mums very long, but I would have thought she might have had at least one night in hospital.
It was very quick, she looked absolutely radiant and hadn't a hair out of place. It's incredible.
She is so beautiful and had such a lovely rosy glow about her. She was wearing a flowing red dress and you could see her baby bump, which is natural.
There is always a pressure on new mums to get back into shape again. You don't want to be wearing your big clothes for months.
When I had my first son Peter, I was ill with depression in the later stages of my pregnancy and after giving birth.
I didn't know what was happening to me and I was in hospital for about five days after Peter was born because of the depression and Michael had to stay with me at nights, as I was on suicide watch.
I was only diagnosed late in my pregnancy and they couldn't give me anti-depressants because they could have harmed my baby.
I also got an epidural and couldn't walk for a day afterwards as my legs were still frozen.
With my second baby Christopher, two-and-a-half years later I was in a much better state mentally and physically, although I put on so much weight during that pregnancy that I looked like a Tellytubbie.
It was a much different experience, because I no longer had depression and I think I spent two days in hospital.
Part of you wants to go home immediately with your new baby and the other part of you is happy to stay because you know there are plenty of people around to help.
I also had a two-year-old at home and Mike was a great help.
I am sure Catherine wasn't going home to get the vacuum cleaner out and I shouldn't think she would have much to do but sit down and rest, which is how it should be for all new mums for a wee while after birth.
At the time we had Christopher, Michael and I were working at UTV and we were fairly high profile, and I remember the UTV press office ringing to see if we would get pictures taken.
We had a photo call in the hospital with about four or five photographers and I remember thinking that I wasn't looking my best although I had managed to get my hair washed.
I think I was wearing my pyjamas in the picture and was hoping that all eyes would be on my baby."
‘I told pals not to call for a week'
Playwright Leesa Harker (40) lives in Belfast with her two daughters Lola (10) and Lexi (7). Her new play Maggie's Your Ma opens for a two-week run in the Grand Opera House, Belfast on June 4. She says:
I was so shocked to see Kate in her high heels carrying her new baby down steps just hours after giving birth. I lived in my slippers for about a fortnight after having my children.
Giving birth is such a traumatic thing for your body to go through and for me even standing up was hard work. I'm amazed and I can't actually believe that she was able to walk down those steps in high heels just hours after giving birth.
I pulled muscles everywhere, even in my face and my legs were so wobbly.
I really haven't known anything like that. She looked so well and part of me thinks it is a bit sad for her that she had to get all dressed up and have her makeup done and I would never knock her, but in real life it just doesn't work like that.
My first child came six weeks early and I was only in labour for an hour and had to have an emergency section. I was in hospital for five days.
Second time round I was in labour on and off for three days and gave birth naturally and had no medication and that was traumatic.
I had Lexi at about 10.30pm and wasn't back from theatre until 5am and the maternity ward was so over-run they asked me at 9.30am if I wanted to go home. I left the hospital in my slippers and pyjamas and went to my mum's house and straight to bed. I texted all my friends and told them not to come round for a week.
I am sure Kate went home and had a pair of fluffy slippers waiting for her and got into her pyjamas and relaxed in front of Loose Women. I like to think she did anyway."