After much anticipation and speculation, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and her husband, Prince William, have joyfully welcomed a royal baby boy. Of course, few babies enter the world with such pomp and circumstance. Although I am not fortunate enough to know the seemingly happy couple personally, something tells me that, despite all the attention on the new parents, they'll handle their parental duties with ease and grace.
Of course unlike most new parents, the royal couple has at their disposal endless help to assist them as they care for their new bundle—an heir to the throne. But at the end of the day, like all parents, they'll have challenges, concerns, high points, and low points as they care for and raise their baby boy. And like all new mothers, Kate will have to find a way to deal with hormonal and body changes, sleepless nights, and so much more as she transitions from being pregnant to raising a real life—and royal—baby.
Married for 20 years and a mother to two boys, aged 15 and 11, my advice to Kate and Will—and all new parents—is to enjoy every moment in your child's life as much as possible. You will make mistakes—all parents do—but you need to cut yourself some slack and ask for help from others when you need it. Be a team when you raise your child, and enjoy each and every moment because your child will grow faster than you thought possible. And try to appreciate and enjoy each stage and phase of your child's life. Also, know that even when your child is no longer small and cuddly, or when he rolls his eyes at you, continue to laugh and look for the positive in every parenting situation. I know from experience that it's very rewarding to feel like you've played even a small part in helping your children grow to be kind and good people who feel secure and empowered, and who contribute to the world in a positive way.
To help Kate—and all new mothers—feed and care for their newborns while still maintaining a sense of self, I asked some top registered dietitian nutritionists to share their best advice. Here are some of their words of wisdom.
"It's important to take care of yourself so you can take care of your new bundle. Rest, rest, and rest. Carrying the baby and giving birth takes a lot of energy. If you choose to breastfeed, it takes even more energy (calories) to help your body produce milk. Feeding yourself the right balance of nutrients and staying hydrated are key ways to help you feel your best."
~Tara Gidus, MS, RD, author of Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies
"If you breastfeed, it may seem like royal torture the first few days. Hang in there for a few weeks before you make a decision about if and how long you'll continue to nurse. Usually, it gets easier with time and becomes quite simple and beautiful."
~Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, founder and president, Nutritious Life
"If you decide to breastfeed, stay committed and patient through challenges. From the honey-like colostrum to waiting for your milk to come in and potential issues with latching, initiating breastfeeding can seem like a contact struggle. You will get through it all and you will get to a point where you can both literally do it in your sleep. Most importantly, know that every mom—even a Duchess—can feel exhausted for several weeks. Remember that everything you do for you, you're doing for baby too. Eat well, stay hydrated, and get your rest."
"If you breastfeed, consider getting help from a lactation specialist. Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing nutritionally, but getting started can be frustrating. Many times, breastfeeding is not intuitive to you or your baby! I credit my lactation consultant for helping me through latching issues I had with my first baby. Lactation specialists are not tired, sore and emotionally involved like you, and can stand beside you to make sure you and your royal baby nurse well together."
~Angela Lemond, RD, Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition
"The best tip I received as a breastfeeding mom was to make sure my baby and I were "tummy-to-tummy". This insures proper position for baby and helps makes breastfeeding successful. It's also important to include these nutrient-rich superfoods in your breastfeeding diet for "Top Quality" breastmilk: salmon for DHA, spinach for lutein, yogurt for calcium, iodine and "good bugs", prunes for fiber, eggs for choline, flax seed oil and walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids, and lean beef and lentils for iron."
~Bridget Swinney MS, RD, author of Eating Expectantly: Practical Advice for Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy.
"If breastfed, any royal bundle of joy—even if not an heir to the throne—needs daily drops of vitamin D (400 IU) for good health and to prevent rickets. While vitamin D can be made in the body with adequate exposure to the sun, we don't want to expose a baby to the damaging ultraviolet rays that can cause sunburn and increase the risk for skin cancer late in life. If the baby is formula fed, the formula should be fortified with vitamin D."
~Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University
"Watch, listen and learn. Your baby boy will give you all the cues you need (especially when he's hungry and full) to feed him well. Don't worry about being perfect, or giving him perfect food. Nothing about feeding kids ever is ideal, but if you love your baby and tune in to him, you'll have a wonderful bond, and experience the success and joy of feeding that is unique to parenthood."
~Jill Castle, MS, RDN, co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School
"Don't put pressure on yourself to remember everything. Use an app (like iBaby Feed) or even a notepad to track when and what the baby eats. Our brains often get fuzzy when we're sleep-deprived, so writing everything down or otherwise keeping track of when you feed your baby can really help. Plus, you'll be able to track changes and fluctuations in eating patterns over time, and your notes will serve as a good resource for your doctor to make sure your little baby boy's needs are being met."
"Don't be in too much of a hurry to lose that baby weight. Your body needs time to adjust to life after pregnancy, and the best approach is to focus on eating wholesome, nourishing foods and getting in some exercise once your doctor gives you the OK. Strict dieting and punishing exercise routines may put you at danger of not allowing your body to truly recover after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, the weight should come off even easier—though that's not always the case."
~Melinda Johnson, MS, RD, Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
"The best resource for me was and continues to be moms who have been there. So my advice is to rely on your relatives and girlfriends for advice, but follow only the words of wisdom that feel comfortable for you and your new baby boy."
"Make time for date night. Even though your little boy has come into the world, set aside one night a week to spend with your Prince sans the baby. It helps keep the relationship healthy and gives you some much needed "me" time to help you clear your mind—making you an ever better mom."
"I'd share a poem I wrote about being a mum--what a wonderful experience!"
~Rebecca Subbiah, RD, LDN.
Image of baby's feet in mother's hands via Shutterstock.