The Duchess of Cambridge has just appeared on the podcast Happy Mum, Happy Baby hosted by Giovanna Fletcher, highlighting the importance of the early years and her own early years with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis..
A happy childhood
“I had a very happy childhood,” Kate said. “It was great fun. I come from a very strong family. My parents were hugely dedicated to us.”
“What I really appreciate now as a parent is how much they sacrificed for us. They’d come to every sports match, they’d be the ones on the sidelines shouting. We’d always have our family holidays together. But I think the things that really resonate with me most is the simple things and I see that even now with my own children.”
“Life now is so busy, so distracting,” Kate continued. “Sometimes the simple things like watching a fire on a really rainy day provides such enjoyment and I remember that from my childhood. Going for a walk together … that’s really what I try and do with my children as well because it totally strips away all the complications, all the pressures as parent.”
“I think these experiences mean so much to children and the world they’re in which is a real adventure for them at that age.”
Mum guilt is universal
Kate spoke about her own experience of mum guilt, noting that she’d felt worried about leaving her children. A royal confidante noted that the more good and loving people you have around your kids, the better they will do.
“It was a weight off my shoulders. It’s not totally my responsibility to do everything because we all have good days and bad days. If you can dilute that with others who aren’t, on that particular day, struggling … it makes such a difference.”
Kate says this sort of guilt is a constant battle, however, and concedes it probably is for most parents.
“You’re always questioning your own decisions, your own judgements and I think that starts from the moment you have a baby. “
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“I’ve got this one photo of Charlotte smelling a bluebell, and really for me it’s moments like that mean so much to me as a parent. • I try every day to put moments like that in, even if they’re small or even if I don’t have time”. • Swipe 👉 to listen to The Duchess of Cambridge speaking about her experiences as a parent on the ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ podcast with @MrsGiFletcher. On the special podcast, The Duchess spoke about the importance of the early years, and about her landmark ‘5 Big Questions on the Under 5s’ survey. It takes just 5 minutes to have your say in the biggest ever conversation on early childhood — visit the link in our bio to answer The Duchess’s #5BigQuestions. Photo © The Duchess of Cambridge
“Not the happiest of pregnant people”
Kate spoke at length to Giovanna about her pregnancies and the impact they had.
“I got very bad morning sickness, so I’m not the happiest of pregnant people,” Kate laughed, referring to her experience of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during all three pregnancies.
“It was definitely a challenge not just for me, but for your loved ones around you,” the future queen consort pointed out.
“Being pregnant and having a newborn baby impacts everyone in the family. William didn’t feel he could do much to help and it’s hard for everyone to see suffering without being able to do anything about it.”
“I was really sick. I wasn’t eating the things I should be eating, but the body was still able to take all the goodness from my body to grow new life which I think is fascinating.”
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🎧 SOUND ON — listen to a clip of The Duchess of Cambridge talking with @MrsGiFletcher about her own childhood experiences and the importance of the early years. Their full conversation will be released as a special episode of Giovanna’s ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ podcast – a series of frank and warm conversations with mums and dads covering all aspects of parenthood, from tackling loneliness, to being a single parent. On this Early Years episode, The Duchess discusses her '5 Big Questions on the Under Fives' – a quick, online survey which aims to spark a national conversation on the early years that will ultimately help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come. Visit the link in our bio 🗣️ to have your say on the biggest ever national conversation on the early years #5BigQuestions
Kate explained that her struggle with HG led her down the road of hypnobirthing.
“Through the hyperemesis, I really realised the power of the mind over the body, because I really had to try everything and anything,” she told Giovanna.
“There’s levels of it,” Kate noted of hypnobirthing. “I’m not going to say that William was standing there, chanting sweet nothings at me. He definitely wasn’t. I didn’t even ask him about it. It was just something I wanted to do for myself.”
“I saw the power of the meditation and deep breathing and things like that that they teach you in hypnobirthing when I was really sick”, she laughed.
“And actually I realised that this was something I could take control of during labour. It was hugely powerful and because it had been so bad during pregnancy, I actually really quite liked labour because it was an event that I knew there was going to be an end to.”
“It’s not for everyone,” Kate summed up.
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🎙️ The Duchess of Cambridge has joined @MrsGiFletcher for an episode of the ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ podcast to talk about her landmark #5BigQuestions survey. On the special episode of ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’, released on Saturday, 15th February at 1600 GMT The Duchess and Giovanna discuss the importance of the early years, their shared experiences as mothers to three children, and The Duchess’s ‘5 Big Questions on the Under fives’ survey. It’s not too late to have your say in the biggest national conversation on the early years — visit the link in our bio to complete the survey 📋 and help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come.
The power of midwives and postpartum support
Kate notes that her work in the early years spectrum has revealed that many women feel disappointed and guilty that their births might not have been the way they’d envisaged. This is where midwifery is so important, Kate says.
“Having someone alongside you, that’s why the role of midwives is so extraordinary, because they provide that reassurance that actually things might be different, but it’s okay.”
While pregnancy and labour are often well supported, those early weeks of motherhood can be another story.
“The challenge is when you’re sent home with your newborn baby, particularly as a first time mother, and you’re like “Oh my goodness. Am I okay to do this?!’”
“A happy, healthy boy”
“What was it like when you first held Prince George in your arms?” Giovanna asked.
“Amazing. It is extraordinary,” Kate confirmed. “It’s sort of … ‘how can the human body do that?’ It is utterly extraordinary actually. He was very sweet and also you’re very relieved that he was a happy, healthy boy.
“I didn’t know [the baby was going to be a boy]. It was a surprise, but also seeing your husband … seeing the pure joy on his face.”
“That’s what we have to try and remember,” she continued. “Through the complications of our children growing up, that ultimately it’s the really simple things that really do matter. If nothing else, that’s what I really try and remind myself on a daily basis. It’s the simple things … the strength of family. The simple acts of kindness that make the biggest amounts of difference.”
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In Cardiff The Duchess of Cambridge joined a baby sensory class at the Ely and Caerau Children’s Centre to hear about the support that parents and staff receive, and to talk about the #5BigQuestions on the Under 5s Survey. The launch of the survey follows eight years of work by The Duchess, in which she has explored how experiences in early childhood often lie at the root of the hardest social challenges the country faces today. What we experience in the earliest years – from in the womb to the age of five – is instrumental in shaping our future lives. It takes just 5 minutes to have your say in the biggest ever conversation on early childhood – click the link in our bio to answer the #5BigQuestions on the Under 5s.
When asked how it felt to introduce her babies to the world on the steps of St Mary’s Hospital in London, Kate admitted it was “slightly terrifying, I’m not gonna lie.”
“It’s hard to compartmentalise the whole thing because everyone had been so supportive and I was really conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about,” she said.
“We’re hugely grateful for the support that the public has shown us and for us to be able to share that joy and 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 all sorts of mixed emotions.”
“I didn’t get a huge amount of sleep, but George did, which was really great. But I was keen to get home, because for me … I had all the memories of being in hospital because of being sick so it wasn’t sort of a place I wanted to hang out and hang around. So I was really desperate to get home and get back to normality.”
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🔊(sound on) From the very first series of the podcast I’ve always named The Duchess as my dream guest, so to be presenting this to you today is utterly incredible. We talk about her passion for early years, and the reason for her being so drawn to the sector. We talk about the survey and how much she wants to hear from the public about their aspirations for future generations. And then we talk about her own experiences as a mother, including her use of hypnobirthing, the mum guilt and the juggle, as well as her hopes for her children. It’s a delightful chat and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Listen here: https://podfollow.com/1277078956/episode/ef0d225173f525ab37490e8727eacad4344adfaf (link in bio) Happy listening! To take part in the UK-wide survey head to 5bigquestions.org.uk ❤️ #5BigQuestions @kensingtonroyal @happymumhappybaby
Back to normal?
That normality was far removed from what she’d initially expected, Kate says.
“Particularly with a first born baby you think that everything going to go back to the way it was. I totally underestimated the impact and the change it had on our life from that moment really. Unless you’ve got children, you don’t realise no amount of planning and preparation can get you ready for that moment.”
“The Duke when he put Prince George in the car. That was seamless!” Giovanna enthused.
“People really didn’t think so at the time,” Kate laughed noting that they had no clue at the time.
“‘What do we do? In the swaddle? How’s this supposed to work?!” she recalls.
“It just never works out the way you planned it. It was quite hard to do that on the world’s stage, but he did a very good job.”
You can listen to the full Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast here.