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Monday 11 December 2017

Trust me ... Robbie's live feed of childbirth doesn't show the messy reality

Imagine this. You're in the throes of labour, experiencing the sort of agony that you think you might never survive.

You're desperately trying to remember how to do those breathing exercises, or hoping that the epidural will kick in before you lose your mind.

Meanwhile, what is your beloved partner doing? Instead of holding your hand, mopping your brow and rubbing your feet, like he's supposed to, he's posting the proceedings online. Would you want to kill him, or would you cheerfully participate?

Robbie Williams' wife took the latter course when the pop star decided to live blog the birth of the couple's second child. Instead of strangling him with the cord of her dressing gown, like I know I would have been tempted to do if my husband had done the same when I was in labour, she played along, gamely posing for photos in her hospital room and partaking in videos for his YouTube channel.

So, is this what we can expect from new parents from now on? After all, many couples now announce they're expecting a baby by posting their first in utero scan online, so it probably makes sense that blogging the birth, contraction by painful contraction, will become a thing too.

Thank God my childbirth days are behind me if that's the case, because I can't think of anything worse. For one thing, I'd never be able to cope with the pressure to look good while in labour. It's a different kettle of fish for Ayda. She's a gorgeous woman, and giving birth to an eight-pound son didn't affect that one iota. All glossy hair and perfect complexion, she positively glows in the photos and videos. In short, she's not entirely representative of what normal women look like in the same situation.

posing

In my experience, you don't exactly look or feel your best when you're giving birth. Well, I know I certainly didn't, and pictures of me posing with my newborns bears this out. I look happy, yes. I'm smiling from ear to ear, thrilled with my beautiful babies. But I also look bloated, blotchy and utterly exhausted.

These days, plenty of women purposely get glammed up before they hit the labour ward. Manicures, pedicures and fake tans are all ticked off the list before the first contraction hits, so they'll look picture-perfect for the big day.

If that's what gets you through, then of course you should go ahead and treat yourself. But I can't help thinking that many women endure all that fuss and palaver because they know that people will expect to see the pictures and they'll be judged if they look less than stunning. It's almost as if we're now supposed to ignore the inconvenient fact that having a baby is a messy enterprise, just like we're supposed to have teeny tiny bumps when we're pregnant, fit into our skinny jeans immediately afterwards and pretend we don't have stretch marks or jelly bellies. None of it is real. But then, if you want to see the messy reality of birth, you should tune in to a show like One Born Every Minute, not a pop star's YouTube channel.

At the end of the day, how couples choose to chronicle and mark the birth of a new baby is up to them. Some people like to keep it private. Others want to share every graphic detail with the world. Robbie and Ayda are clearly in the latter camp - after all, they did announce that they were trying for baby number two before he was even conceived. Let's hope that won't become a trend too. Because that really is too much information.

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