Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are already doing things their own way as new parents to a baby boy.
After it was announced by Buckingham Palace that Meghan had given birth, it was Prince Harry and not Meghan who went before the cameras, breaking recent royal precedent of the new mom posing alongside her husband and baby outside the hospital mere hours after giving birth.
Harry, 34, acknowledged the heroic undertaking his wife made in giving birth to their son, a 7 pounds, 3 ounces healthy boy born around one week after his due date.
"I’m so incredibly proud of my wife," he said Monday in the brief remarks he made outside of Frogmore Cottage, the Windsor home where he and Meghan will raise their son.
"It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever possibly imagine," Harry said of the birth, for which he was present. "How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension, but we’re both absolutely thrilled and so grateful to all the love and support of everybody out there."
Buckingham Palace said Meghan went into labor in the "early morning hours" and delivered the baby at 5:26 a.m. local time. The palace has not revealed where Meghan gave birth.
The public will get their first glimpse of the family of three -- baby Sussex, Meghan and Harry -- later this week, Harry said Monday. Buckingham Palace announced before the baby's birth that Harry and Meghan would not make any announcements until they've celebrated "privately as a new family."
The privacy around the delivery location and lack of an immediate photo-op is in contrast to Meghan’s sister-in-law Duchess Kate and her mother-in-law, the late Princess Diana.
Kate and Diana, who both gave birth to heirs to the British throne, each delivered their children at the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.
Throngs of press and well-wishers camped out before the deliveries and were also there to greet Kate and Diana when they stepped outside – with makeup and heels on -- to pose with their newborns just hours after giving birth.
Meghan, seen as having more flexibility because her son is seventh in line to throne, made a different decision about where, when and how the public will first see her child.
- 2April 11, 2019
"It’s great that she’s making right off the bat what feels like the best decision for herself and her child," Lauren Smith Brody, author of "The Fifth Trimester," the bestselling book about returning to work as a mother, told "Good Morning America" last month. "She's saying, 'I’m in charge. I’ll be the one to design my motherhood and public role and no one else.'"
Brody, a mother of two, now works with companies to help them support and retain new moms in the workplace. She said Meghan is making a smart move in defining expectations right off the bat about her maternity leave with her decision to wait a few days before appearing in public.
"In a sense her public role is a job, so she’s saying, 'I’m not working when my kid is one day old. I’m on maternity leave,'" Brody said. "Very often the first parent who needs something [like maternity leave] is the one who helps design what is going to be offered as a benefit to everybody. You’re actually helping to modernize the workplace and make it more fair for everybody."
"I think Meghan is embracing that and I really applaud her," Brody said.
Harry and Meghan's decision to skip the traditional photo op outside the hospital, like Princess Diana and Duchess Kate have done, drew backlash from some members of the British press.
"This is the shattering of a tradition that goes back for decades," one journalist told The New York Times last month. "There is a price to be paid for that, and that price is mockery."
The Sun, a high-profile U.K. tabloid, similarly slammed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for infringing on the public's "royal rights.”
“Keeping the nation in the dark over details, even after the birth, is a bad look for the royal couple,” the newspaper wrote in an April 12 editorial. “The public has a right to know about the lives of those largely funded by their taxes. You can accept that, or be private citizens. Not both.”
The couple's decision was applauded though by groups like baby products company, Fridababy, which, before the Buckingham Palace announcement, placed an open letter to Meghan in The New York Times asking her to skip the post-birth photo op outside the hospital in hopes of creating a dialogue around what women really go through after giving birth.
“Sure your blowout will be perfect for your hospital step photo-op, but people will be opining on all the wrong things—like how soon you will fit into your pre-baby wardrobe—instead of having an honest conversation about what women go through during birth or immediately thereafter,” according to the March 26 letter, written by Fridababy CEO Chelsea Hirschhorn.
"Skip the pomp and circumstance of the baby parade. Let the headlines instead read: 'Prince Brings Royal Baby Out Because Mom Is in Bed Sitting on a Pack of Ice,'" Hirschhorn wrote.
Mothers weighed in with mixed reactions to the letter, with the majority applauding the notion that women should not have to live up to expectations after a major medical feat like childbirth.
"Thank you so much for sharing this and keeping it real for us new mamas out there ... it’s so important!!" wrote one Instagram user. "I had no idea what to expect and my birth was very hard!! I appreciate this so much!!"
"I was 39 when I had my first of 2, and even though what u say is true and sitting WAS painful for some days, I also felt SO euphoric about my baby that wild horses could not have kept me down!!" wrote another user. "I was proud to be up and focus on this wonder and NOT on my own discomfort, which absolutely paled by comparison!! had I had a hairdresser come to my room I would have done what Kate did!!"
Kate, 37, posed with her third child, Prince Louis, just seven hours after his birth at the Lindo Wing last April. The wife of Prince William wore a red Jenny Packham dress, nylons, heels and fully done makeup and hair when she met photographers outside the hospital holding her third child.
In the United States, where Meghan is from, new moms are more likely to stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours after a vaginal birth and 96 hours after a cesarean birth, with some stays being even longer depending on the delivery.
While Kate and Diana may have faced more pressure, or expectations, because of the time in which they gave birth and their husbands' and children's spots in the line of succession, Meghan appears to have taken the option of "opting out," as Brody calls it, and doing what is best for herself -- both mentally and physically - and her family.
The message that should send to all women -- most of whom do not have to decide whether to pose for photos in front of the press after childbirth -- is that they can do the same, no matter the scale.
"Meghan's choice sends a message even to a mom who has just had a baby, who is flooded with requests to come and visit, who feels like she has to entertain and has to be looking good and has to have food in the fridge and has to leave the room to nurse the baby if the baby cries," Brody said. "It says, 'No, actually let's mom and dad decide what is best and what they want in order to be able to succeed in this really, really challenging transition.'"