December 13, 2018
Meghan Markle may be one of the most fascinating, celebrated people of 2018, but the newly minted Duchess of Sussex has also been the target of a ridiculous, at times downright cruel tongue-wagging. Sure, haters are perpetually gonna hate on celebrities and royals, especially a celebrity-turned-royal, but the latest criticism Markle is facing is eyebrow-raising to say the least. Upon realizing that Markle, who is expecting her first child with Prince Harry, has been photographed cradling her bump, Twitter users have lashed out at the former actress. Because apparently, there's something offensive about carrying yourself—and your growing little one—in a loving, self-soothing way.
Here are just a few examples of the nasty cradle-shaming.
Meghan Markle. We know you’re pregnant, stop cradling your bump it’s not going to fall off..— Elleee (@elle_wag) December 12, 2018
Aside from the fact that it's utterly bizarre and misogynistic to attack the way a pregnant woman is standing or holding her own body, these trolls seem to be missing another crucial point. What Markle is doing is called "cradling," and it's not only normal—it's encouraged.
"It’s a positive thing for both mum and baby to touch and reassure baby, which is vital for baby's bonding and well being, staving off postnatal depression and facilitating healthy connection for all," Katherine Graves, founder of KG Hypnobirthing, told the Daily Mail. "It has been shown time and time again that babies recognize what they have experienced in the womb after they are born. If touching her bump does nothing more than help Meghan feel calm, even that will have a profound effect on her baby."
Research proves that cradling is beneficial for mother-child bonding. A 2015 study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, tested various approaches to connecting with unborn babies. Moms, all of whom were in their second and third trimesters, were assigned to three groups: one was instructed to read classic children's stories to their babies, one to rub their baby bumps, or one to do neither. Researchers tracked the babies' movements in the womb using ultrasound, and the children of mothers who were rubbing their bellies had the most movement of their arms, heads, and mouths.
The authors' conclusion: "It might well be that the increases in arm movements in response to maternal touch are also directed responses towards the source of the stimulation." In other words, the little ones may have been reaching out to touch their moms back, potentially making for a very early mother-child bonding moment. So sweet.
And a more recent study from earlier this year out of the University of Cambridge concluded that mothers who "connect" with their baby during pregnancy are more likely to interact in a more positive way with their L.O. once he or she is born. And interaction supports infants' learning and development.
While Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian were both photographed cradling their bumps plenty of times, neither seemed to stir up the kind of criticism Meghan Markle is now facing, Cosmo UK points out. But when she was expecting her first child, Khloe Kardashian was targeted in a similar way. And she had the perfect response, pointing out that, although society often treats expectant mothers' bodies like public domain, a woman's body and bump are hers alone.
People are very opinionated about my bump. I choose to cradle my bump because it’s MINE. I’ve waited for this VERY short moment for YEARS. I have only months to enjoy this phase in my life, so I will touch my bump and love my bump as often as I choose. Mommy loves you baby! ❤️— Khloé (@khloekardashian) February 28, 2018
Too bad her mic-drop tweet didn't shut down these disrespectful trolls for good.
Thankfully, in the wake of this bump-cradling backlash, plenty of Twitter users have come out swinging for the royal mom-to-be.
The silver lining of all of this is that it gives us the opportunity to underline the importance of both body autonomy and early parent-child bonding. Not only should expectant moms be encouraged to touch and love on their bumps as much as they want, but let's be real: Critics' ignorant, mean remarks say far more about them and their insecurities than they do the Duchess of Sussex.