Ever since Meghan Markle announced that she and husband Prince Harry were expecting their first baby back in October, she's been photographed publicly cradling her bump on numerous occasions.
There were the sweet photos of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex taking a walk hand-in-hand by the sea in Australia, with Meghan's hand gently hovering over her stomach:
There was the time we saw Meghan's bump prominently for the first time, when she held its underside at a state dinner in Fiji:
And most recently, on stage at the British Fashion Awards following a surprise appearance, Meghan repeatedly cradled her pregnant belly top and bottom:
But following the fashion event, the royal mother-to-be found herself in the firing line of unprecedented criticism simply for the way she interacted with her own body on stage.
Tweets flooded in labelling Meghan "annoying" and "such an actress", while others took it upon themselves to remind the Duchess that her bump is "not going to fall off".
"If I see one more photo of Meghan Markle cradling that bump I am going to vomit," wrote another user.
Meghan Markle. We know you’re pregnant, stop cradling your bump it’s not going to fall off..
- Elleee (@elle_wag) December 12, 2018
Yes, all that baby bump-overdoing thing is tiring... Why can't she just stand normal, in particular at official occasions?
She is just constantly showing off and this is really disgusting and repelling...#MeghanMarkle#BritishFashionAwards
- spotterdotter@otter (@spotterdotter) December 11, 2018
- Treacle (@CallMeTreacle) December 11, 2018
But aside from the fact this is just another element of the campaign of hate against a woman who has found herself the focus of the entire world's attention this year, there's actually a very good reason why Meghan has felt so compelled to cup her stomach during pregnancy. It's a common practice among pregnant women known as 'cradling'.
"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," explained Katherine Graves, founder of KG Hypnobirthing, in conversation with the Daily Mail.
"It has been shown time and time again that babies recognise 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."
So now we've cleared up that it's perfectly acceptable for Meghan to cradle her belly if she so wishes, might I gently remind you that this is not the first time we have seen a female public figure doing it?
We didn't see the same backlash for Kate when she dared go near her own midriff while pregnant with Prince George in 2013, as far as I can remember.
And Kim Kardashian certainly didn't receive any level of criticism after cradling her bump in public throughout either of her pregnancies.
So let's all just step back and give the woman a break. Meghan is entitled to do pregnancy however she wants to, and she shouldn't have to face scrutiny from the world's critical gaze every time she steps outside the house.
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