In the first royal podcast appearance, The Duchess of Cambridge sat down to talk about parenthood and her early years work with Giovanna Fletcher, in the Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast. Catherine spoke about her ‘mum-guilt’, what she finds most important as a parent and even the experience of her pregnancies with severe morning sickness.
The Duchess said she felt “slightly terrified” about the hundreds of people waiting outside of the Lindo Wing in 2013, who wanted to see the new family of three after the birth of Prince George. Nonetheless, Kate said she and William felt it was “really important” to share the public’s “joy and appreciation” at the arrival.
She talked of the “pure joy” on William’s face when he became a father, describing it as “really special”, and that holding her child for the very first time was “amazing” and “extraordinary”.
Mrs Fletcher asked about how The Duke of Cambridge got Prince George into his carseat so quickly, to which Kate replied: “We’d even tried to practise with a little baby, like a little doll, at home, but you know it just never works out the way you planned it, so it was quite hard to do that on the world’s stage, but he did a very good job.”
But once she and William were home, Catherine said that the new job of being a parent “pulled to your toughest and most unknown places that you hadn’t necessarily even thought about before”.
The Cambridge couple spent one night at Kensington Palace, before heading to the Middletons home for six weeks to adjust to new family life.
The Duchess participated in the podcast to help raise awareness of the 5 Big Questions survey. Giovanna had met Kate in Birmingham for the initial launch a few weeks ago.
Giovanna said that Kate seemed ‘passionate’ about the subject and it was ‘beyond wonderful to sit and talk further about the survey, her work – for which she has so much knowledge, and her own experiences of being a mother.’
The Duchess of Cambridge said that she – like many women – struggled with “mum guilt” and had it “all the time” because of trying to balance work with family life. “Anyone who doesn’t (have guilt) as a mother is actually lying,” she giggled, adding that she was “such a hands-on mum”.
The episode was recorded after the breakfast visit to a London nursery at the end of January, and told us that, as she was leaving that morning, Prince George and Princess Charlotte questioned her as to why she couldn’t drop them at school; both of her elder children attend St Thomas’s in Battersea.
But she called it a ‘privilege’ to be able to meet so many different people on different paths in her line of work.
Seeming to reference the fact she is not always the one with her children, the Royal commented: “The more people you have around your children who are safe and loving and caring, the better.
“So yeah – it was a real weight off my shoulders that actually it’s not totally my responsibility to do everything, because you know we all have good days, bad days – and you can dilute that with others who aren’t on that particular day struggling.
“I think it makes such a difference for your child, keeping them as constant and happy as possible.”
Kate also said there were things she would have done differently, even from the very early days of her first pregnancy, having learnt plenty from ‘digging around the early years landscape’ but says that she was “not the happiest of pregnant people”, as she suffered acutely in all three pregnancies with hyperemesis gravidarum.
“William didn’t feel he could do much to help,” the Duchess explained “and it’s hard for everyone to see you suffering without actually being able to do anything about it.”
Talk turned to the power of the mind, as Kate confirmed she tried hypnobirthing, a breathing and mindfulness technique to stay calm in labour. The Duchess said she had learnt about the power of controlling her breathing to combat severe morning sickness: “It was through hyperemesis that I really realised the power of the mind over the body because I really had to try everything and everything to try and help me through it,” she said.
“I’m not going to say that William was standing there sort of, chanting sweet nothings at me. He definitely wasn’t! I didn’t even ask him about it, but it was just something I wanted to do for myself.
“I saw the power of it really, the meditation and the deep breathing and things like that – that they teach you in hypnobirthing – when I was really sick and actually I realised that this was something I could take control of, I suppose, during labour.
“It was hugely powerful and because it had been so bad during pregnancy, I actually really quite liked labour! Because actually it was an event that I knew there was going to be an ending to!
“But I know some people do have really, really difficult times, and it’s not for everybody.”
Giovanna asked about what she wanted George, Charlotte and Louis to remember from their childhood. “Is it that I’m sitting down trying to do their maths and spelling homework over the weekend? Or is it the fact that we’ve gone out and lit a bonfire and sat around trying to cook sausages that hasn’t worked because it’s too wet?” Catherine replied.
“That’s what I would want them to remember, those moments with me as a mother, but also the family going to the beach, getting soaking wet, filling our boots full of water, those are what I would want them to remember.”
Reflecting on her own childhood, which she described as ‘happy’, Catherine talked of the time she spent with her grandmother, which “really stood out”.
“I had an amazing granny who devoted a lot of time to us, playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening, and cooking with us. And I try and incorporate a lot of the experiences that she gave us at the time into the experiences that I give my children now.”
“As children, we spent a lot of time outside and it’s something I’m really passionate about,” Catherine explained during the interview. “I think it’s so great for physical and mental wellbeing and laying (developmental) foundations,’ the future Queen said. ‘It’s such a great environment to spend time in, building those quality relationships without the distractions of “I’ve got to cook” and “I’ve got to do this”. And actually, it’s so simple.’
At the end of the episode, the Duchess was asked three questions, as all guests are. She was tasked with finishing the sentences.
- Being a mum means… “Compromise,” Kate responded.
- Since being a mum, I… “have found a new enjoyment out of life.”
- I’m happy when… “I’m with my family outside in the countryside and we’re all filthy dirty,” the Duchess giggled.
Giovanna Fletcher is the mother of three boys, Buzz, 5, Buddy, 3, and Max, 1, and is married to Tom Fletcher, who rose to fame in boyband McFly and is now a children’s author.
You can listen to the podcast here.