The history-making photos of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s first child Archie Harrison were momentous for a multitude of reasons. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex often break with royal protocol and their announcement was no exception. Yet Meghan’s first appearance since giving birth was also significant for an unexpected reason: because her postpartum belly was clearly visible beneath her belted dress.
The comments poured in on the family photo, posted on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's official Instagram account. "I hope this makes people more aware that it’s normal to still look pregnant after giving birth. She looks gorgeous," wrote one person.
Others wrote, Meghan "actually showed [her bump] with pride and showed what it really looks like after birth," and noticed that she "isn't hiding away until she gets her figure back."
From Princess Diana’s ‘80s-style light blue oversized frock to Kate Middleton’s bafflingly perfect bouncy waves, how royal mums look when they present their newborns to the world never fails to become a talking point.
For most women the desire “bounce-back” after having a baby is intensified by; social pressures, misleading images in the media and on Instagram. It should go without saying that pregnancy changes your figure. However, in the days immediately following giving birth (Markle gave birth to her son on Monday so when she stepped out to introduce him on Wednesday, it had been a mere 48 hours), this is an all but impossible feat.
“After giving birth, most women still have a bit of a belly,” Ashley Roman, MD, director of maternal-fetal medicine at NYU revealed during a recent interview with U.S. InStyle.
The uterus and abdominal wall have to stretch in order to carry the baby and doesn’t just snap back into its pre-pregnancy shape.
“By around six to eight weeks after giving birth, the uterus has returned to its normal size,” she says. “This is also the point at which women can return to exercise if they wish.”
What’s more? It can take a few days for any excess fluid to be flushed out of the body. A natural process which takes place in the first week after giving birth (i.e. through sweating and extra visits to the bathroom.)
While we might like to imagine that Meghan’s life is a real-life fairytale, her post-pregnancy debut is an important reminder that she, too, is a new mother living with many of the same postpartum realities that every other mum has to deal with.
WATCH: Compare Baby Sussex's Big Debut With His Royal Cousins — George, Charlotte And Louis!