Delighting moms around the world, Duchess Kate didn't hide her post-baby belly when she and Prince William debuted their son a day after she gave birth.
When Duchess Kate and Prince William emerged from St. Mary's Hospital Tuesday proudly holding their new baby, all eyes were on the infant heir. But as the former Kate Middleton stood before the press and the world, many noticed something else: the new mom's post-baby belly.
In stark contrast to many celebrities who don't appear in public until they've regained their figures, the Duchess chose a silk, empire-waisted dress by designer Jenny Packham that emphasized her postpartum body just 24 hours after giving birth.
Kate's cornflower blue dress with white polka dots was seen by many as a nod to Princess Diana, who wore a green polka-dotted dress to debut Prince William in 1982. But Diana's tent-like frock completely hid her body.
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed an 8-pound, 6-ounce baby boy Monday afternoon, and as Tom Sykes noted in his Daily Beast column The Royalist, the Duchess' wardrobe choice "was all the more brave of her, as Kate has not been seen in public for six weeks, meaning that there are actually no pictures of Kate looking full term. She had just given birth, but, ironically, this was the most 'pregnant' we had seen Kate looking."
Reuters Photo: Suzanne Plunkett
The Duchess' mummy tummy is more evident from the side as she and Prince William debut their baby son July 23 outside St. Mary's Hospital in London.
Among the thousands of tweets about the royal baby's debut, many praised the Duchess for not hiding her new shape, noting that she even cradled her belly at times as she spoke about the emotions of new motherhood and how "any parent will know what this feeling feels like."
Siobhan Freegard, founder of the British Web community Netmums, summed up the sentiment: "In a couple of minutes on the steps of the Lindo Wing Kate has done more for new mums' self-esteem than any other role model," she told Sykes.
During pregnancy, a woman's uterus expands to many times its normal size to accommodate the growing baby. It takes days or even weeks to shrink back down into the pelvis. Also, a postpartum mom's abdominal muscles have been stretched out, and her blood volume is still high.
In short, it's normal to look about six months pregnant right after giving birth, but this reality, like many aspects of the postpartum experience, is not often discussed in public.
"One of the most surprising things to a first-time mom is that her belly doesn't immediately go back to normal after the baby comes out!" said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an OB-GYN and senior medical contributor for ABC News. "Rest assured this is totally normal and, with time, things can and do go back to their original shape."
Related: Giving birth in the US vs. the UK
"I'm simply delighted that she looked the way every mom looks when they leave the hospital, while they wonder, 'Um, when do I stop looking pregnant?'" said Cara Lemieux, a mother who is the founder of the blog MeandDucky.com and a contributor to Lifetime Moms. "So opposite of the way we see celebs post-baby and so refreshing."
"I think Kate looked stunning. Real. Glowing. And perfectly natural," concurred Emily Portnoy, a New York City mother of two who works in advertising.
"We are not used to seeing celebrities 24 hours after giving birth, when no amount of diet or expensive personal trainers can change the fact that the uterus stretched over many months," said Jennifer Lippman, a lawyer and mother to a 14-month-old son.
"In fact, her only alternative was to opt for something like Diana wore, without a waist. … I am sure Kate Middleton will be back to her enviable figure incredibly quickly and sooner than most women are, but for now she is very relatable," Lippman said.
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