Update 15 February: Kate Middleton has opened up – for the first time – about how it feels to stand on the steps of the Lindo Wing following the births of her three children.
During her first podcast discussion on podcast host Giovanna Fletcher’s episode of the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast on Saturday, the 38-year-old discussed her experiences of pregnancy, severe morning sickness, hypnobirthing and the guilt she feels as she tries to bring up her children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Here's everything Kate Middleton said in her podcast debut on motherhood:
On standing outside of the Lindo Wing
Opening up for the first time about her decision to stand outside the Lindo Wing hours after giving birth to each of her three children, Kate described the experience as ‘terrifying’.
When quizzed by Fletcher how it felt, the royal said: ‘Yeah, slightly terrifying, slightly terrifying, I'm not going to lie [laughs].
‘Everyone had been so supportive and both William and I were really conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about and you know we're hugely grateful for the support that the public had shown us, and actually for us to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt was really important.
‘But equally it was coupled with a newborn baby, and inexperienced parents, and the uncertainty of what that held, so there were all sorts of mixed emotions.’
Opening up about seeing her first child, George, for the first time, the mum said it was an ‘amazing’ moment.
‘It is extraordinary as I've said,’ she gushed. ‘How can the human body do that? It is utterly extraordinary, actually. And he was very sweet. And also sort of relieved that he was a happy, healthy boy.’
On parenting guilt
With a busy schedule that sees her regularly traveling across the UK, the royal said she often struggles with guilt as a mother.
She joked: ‘Anyone who doesn't as a mother is actually lying! Yep – all the time, yep – and you know even this morning, coming to the nursery visit here – George and Charlotte were like “Mummy how could you possibly not be dropping us off at school this morning?”
'But no it's a constant challenge – you hear it time and time again from mums, even mums who aren't necessarily working and aren't pulled in the directions of having to juggle work life and family life… and always sort of questioning your own decisions and your own judgements and things like that, and I think that starts from the moment you have a baby!
‘Also I feel huge responsibility because what I've learnt over the last few years is so fascinating and I definitely would have done things differently, even during my pregnancy, than I would have done now. Because you know - the science - and I found that fascinating to see the wellbeing of the mother – not just physically, you know there's so much information about making sure you exercise and making sure you have a healthy diet and things like that, which yes is definitely important. But the emotional wellbeing of the mother directly impacts the baby that you're growing.’
On morning sickness
During the podcast, the royal opened up about suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum during her three pregnancies which the NHS states results in symptoms such as excessive nausea and vomiting.
‘I got very bad morning sickness,’ she admitted.
‘I'm not the happiest of pregnant people. Lots of people have it far, far worse. It was definitely a challenge. Not just for me, but also for your loved ones around you and I think that's the thing - being pregnant and having a newborn baby and things like that, impacts everybody in the family. William didn't feel he could do much to help and it's hard to see you're suffering without actually being able to do anything about it.’
The Duchess added that because of the ‘rotten’ condition, she found labour far easier than pregnancy.
‘Because it had been so bad during pregnancy, I actually really quite liked labour…,’ she stated, adding,’because actually it was an event that I knew there was going to be an ending to! But I know some people have really, really difficult times, so it's not for everybody. No pregnancy is the same, no birth is the same.’
The St Andrews-educated star also opened up about her experience of hypnobirthing which, according to the children’s organisation Tommys, can involve anything from controlled breathing and visualisation to meditation.
‘There are levels of it,’ she said of the pain management method.
‘I'm not going to say that William was standing there chanting sweet nothings at me! He definitely wasn't, [laughing] I didn't even ask him about it, but it was just something I wanted to do for myself. I saw the power of it, really, the meditation and the deep breathing and things like that that they teach you in hypnobirthing when I was really sick and actually I realised that this was something that I could take control of, I suppose, during labour. It was hugely powerful.’
On the highs and lows of being a new mum
Having previously opened up about struggling as a new mum, Kate also touched on how the first few hours of parenting panned out for her and her husband.
While she wasn’t quite sure how many hours after George’s birth she stepped out in public, describing it as a ‘blur’ she revealed that during the overnight stay she recalled the weather being anything but comforting.
‘I remember it was one of the hottest days and night with huge thunderstorms so I didn't get a huge amount of sleep, but George did which was really great,’ she said.
‘I was keen to get home because, for me, being in hospital, I had all the memories of being in hospital because of being sick so it wasn't a place I wanted to hang around in. So, I was really desperate to get home and get back to normality. But I think you think, particularly with your firstborn baby, you think everything is going to go back to how it was. I totally underestimated the impact and the change it had on us from that moment really and I think, unless you've got children, you don't realise. No amount of planning and preparation can get you ready for that moment.’
While Fletcher recalled having an ‘eerie silence’ when you get home after being in the hospital, Kate said she found the experience to be the opposite.
‘It wasn't that quiet in our household!’ she joked. ‘William was like, “oh my gosh, is this what parenting is going to be like?” No, it took us a bit of time to get ourselves settled and going again, but that's the beauty I suppose of having a newborn baby. You are pulled to your toughest and most unknown places really that you hadn't necessarily even have thought about before.’
On what she’d tell her younger self
During her discussion on the podcast, Kate said that she would love to have written a letter back to herself at the beginning of her first pregnancy as she feels that she has ‘earned a huge amount’.
‘I'd really love to go back and tell myself at the beginning of pregnancy, right at the start what things I feel now really matter in terms of being a parent but also what really matters to the children and my children now,’ she admitted.
‘It's the simple things that really make a difference. It's spending quality time with your children. It's not whether you've done every single drop off and every single pick up but actually it's those quality moments you spend with your child when you're properly listening to them, properly understanding what they feel, and actually when things are going wrong, actually really taking time to think, “how as a mother am I feeling? Am I actually making this worse for my child because actually this has brought up all sorts of things that I feel rather than just focusing on them and how they might be reacting or responding to certain situations?'
The Duchess continued, recalling a conversation with someone recently who asked her what she wants her children to remember about their childhoods.
‘I thought that was a really good question because actually if you really think about that, is it that I'm sitting down trying to do their maths and spelling homework over the weekend? Or is it the fact that we've gone out and lit a bonfire and sat around trying to cook sausages that hasn't worked because it's too wet?
‘That's what I would want them to remember, those moments with me as a mother, but also the family going to the beach, getting soaking wet, filling our boots full of water, those are what I would want them to remember. Not a stressful household where you're trying to do everything and not really succeeding at one thing.’
Kate Middleton has made her podcast debut to talk all things motherhood and being the parent of three.
The Duchess of Cambridge starred in a pre-recorded episode of author and podcast host Giovanna Fletcher’s episode of the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast on Saturday.
The episode marks the fifth anniversary of the 5 Big Questions survey on the Under Fives – an online survey which aims to spark conversation on a child’s early years.
During the episode, the 38-year-old opened up about the elements of her childhood that she would like to impart on her own children’s.
‘One is quality of relationships,’ the Duchess said. ‘So, those moments that you spend with people that are around you.
‘I remember that from my own childhood. I had an amazing Granny who devoted a lot of time to us, playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening, and cooking with us, and I try and incorporate a lot of the experiences that she gave us at the time into the experiences that I give my children now.’
The proud mum regularly discusses her busy schedule with her children from making pizza with her eldest children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, to taking her youngest son Prince Louis to music classes.
Kate continued, emphasising the importance of growing up in a happy home and in a safe environment.
‘As children, we spent a lot of time outside and it’s something I’m really passionate about,’ she added.
‘I think it’s so great for physical and mental wellbeing and laying [developmental] foundations. It’s such a great environment to spend time in, building those quality relationships without the distractions of “I’ve got to cook” and “I’ve got to do this”. And actually, it’s so simple.’
The Duchess and Fletcher met at the launch of 5 Big Questions on the Under Fives earlier this month and made a joint visit to LEYF Stockwell Gardens Nursery in London to discuss their own experiences as mothers to three children.
The survey’s launch comes eight years after the Duchess of Cambridge first started work on the project to explore how experiences in early childhood often are embedded at the root of the hardest social challenges the UK faces.
Speaking about the survey, the Duchess said: ‘I think ultimately if you look at who’s caring and looking after and nurturing children in the most vital period from pregnancy all the way to the age of five, you know parents and carers are right at the heart of that, and families are right at the heart of that, and although I’ve spoken to the scientists and the service providers, it’s so important to listen to families.
‘What is it that they aspire to? What are their challenges?’
Kate is the latest star to appear on Fletcher’s podcast – which centres on conversations with mums and dads about parenting, from being a single parent to tackling loneliness. Previous guests have included singer Jessie Ware and journalist Caitlin Moran.
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