Princess Kate is now eight months pregnant and the royal baby watch is on the count down!! As an avid reader of People magazine (I call it my guide to Popular Culture), I am following the style of Kate's maternity clothes, her favorite baby names and the most likely godparents. Virtually every issue of People has an article on the royal baby. Should I be surprised that each article is accompanied by a cozy and appealing ad for formula?
My heart goes out to Kate. Ask any new mom and she will tell you how out of control she feels about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. No matter how much she plans, no matter how many experts she employs, the reality is that becoming a mother means unexpected outcomes. No doubt Kate will be judged for whatever she does, or does not do. Pressure no mother needs.
What will happen if Kate has trouble with her milk supply? Throughout history some royal mothers turned to wet nurses to feed their children. Perhaps for convenience? Perhaps because of a low milk supply? Perhaps because breastfeeding suppresses fertility? A wet nurse allowed a royal mother to quickly become pregnant and try again for a male heir.
Today sharing milk is not widely accepted and pasteurized human milk carries a high price tag. The only reasonably priced alternative is formula made from cow’s milk, a foreign protein for a human baby that increases a baby’s risk of obesity, diabetes, asthma and childhood leukemia. Why isn’t there a better option in a world that can produce drones and cell phones and heart transplants?
As a royal celebrity, everything Princess Kate does as a mother will influence parenting trends. Where she buys her maternity clothes, how she gives birth (epidural or not?), what parenting books she reads, what type of breast pump or stroller she buys, and how long she breastfeeds. All of this will influence what “common” mothers will do.
I send a wish to Princess Kate from Lincoln, Nebraska. May you find a bit of privacy as you welcome your first born child. May you follow your heart and take time to make your own decisions as a mother. Know that you are doing exactly what your baby needs you to do. Listen to your instincts, turn to your mother and aunties for wisdom. Take time to love your new little baby. She’ll be a royal princess in your eyes, whether she holds a real title, or merely the precious nickname that you call her in the middle of the night.