KATE MANSEY: Kate Middleton has revealed the secret every exhausted new mother feels…

It was certainly one of the most memorable moments of my life: being introduced to Prince George when he was a six-month-old baby. 

A handful of journalists had been invited to meet the little fellow at a drinks reception at Kensington Palace just before his bedtime – and here he was, being carried into the room in his romper suit on his mother’s hip.

I raised my hand in a little wave and he grabbed my finger with a gorgeously podgy little fist. 

Emotional: She said she was ‘deeply moved’ by hearing the royal talking about the truth of being a mother

I fell in love. Then, once my panic at having breached some sort of palace protocol subsided, I was taken aback by how emotional I found it all, particularly as the Duchess of Cambridge was talking so openly about the struggles of having a newborn baby. 

Perhaps my positive pregnancy test two weeks beforehand – my first baby – goes some way to explaining my mood.

So when I visited the Palace last week to hear the Duchess’s podcast played for the first time, I was deeply moved again.

Here she was telling the world the warts-and-all truth about being a mother. And I am so glad she did.

Often so self-conscious when she gives television interviews, the podcast offers the most intriguing insight yet into the mind of the Duchess.

It is arguably one of the bravest and most honest interviews we have ever had from a member of the Royal Family. 

Royal meeting: Kate Mansey tells of her memorable meeting with the little prince when he was just six months old and has praised the Duchess for speaking out about motherhood

Royal meeting: Kate Mansey tells of her memorable meeting with the little prince when he was just six months old and has praised the Duchess for speaking out about motherhood

The beauty of the podcast, rather than a television interview, is that it is so intimate – it could just be friends chatting over coffee. 

And, by God, do you need those chats in the bleak early days after giving birth.

For Kate has revealed the unsayable secret that every mother feels in those gruelling, sleep-deprived weeks of early motherhood: have I done the right thing by having a baby?

I had the ‘mum guilt’ that Kate speaks about from day one.

It started when I took my little boy home for the first time after what turned out to be a traumatic birth (but what birth isn’t traumatic?).

My husband strapped him into his pristine new car seat, but in our hurry to get to the hospital, I had ridiculously forgotten to pack a blanket, so we had to wrap our precious new cargo in one of my cardigans. 

Unlike Kate, there were no cameras outside the hospital to greet me – but I was still terrified about my new responsibilities.

WE GOT home around 7pm and placed our darling boy gently down to sleep in a Moses basket set on a wooden stand in the lounge. We sat on the sofa. Shell-shocked, we eventually stopped staring at him and turned on the TV to watch Strictly.

Struggled: Kate Mansey reveals that while she didn't suffer from post-natal depression she certainly struggled after becoming a mother

Struggled: Kate Mansey reveals that while she didn’t suffer from post-natal depression she certainly struggled after becoming a mother

We cracked open a bottle of champagne, ordered a pizza to be delivered and said to each other: ‘So… what the hell do we do now?!’

In the fog of early motherhood, you’re caught between a very unusual heaven and hell: utter joy at the wonderful little creature who has come into your life, an overwhelming desire to do your best for your child and – in the bleakest moments when you haven’t slept for more than two hours straight for four days – a persistent nagging feeling that preys on you and leads you to suspect your child would be better off with someone else.

I wouldn’t say I suffered from post-natal depression, but I definitely struggled. Everyone does.

A friend of mine cried continuously for five days after she had her first, much longed-for child but she couldn’t articulate why. Another threatened to return her child to the hospital and leave her there if her husband didn’t take the baby away for a walk IMMEDIATELY. He promptly bundled the child into a buggy and set off to the park.

As well as a very supportive husband, I was lucky enough to have brilliant parents, in-laws, family and friends who got me through those early days. I clung to those people. Sometimes literally.

I’ll never forget a wonderful French midwife who cycled round to our house on the third day, found me weeping in the kitchen and told me: ‘Forget ze breast. You must sleep. 

Tonight the baby has bottles with Daddy. You can breastfeed again tomorrow,’ and duly dispatched my husband to Sainsbury’s to buy formula and sterilising equipment. 

I think she saved my life. I may not be a Duchess, but I count myself extremely lucky to have a great support network and financial stability. 

And it was still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s clear from the podcast that Kate felt a supercharged version of what I did. ‘If it’s this hard for me with everything I have, it must be utter hell for other people.’ 

But then she thought: how do I change that?

There was a big risk with this project that Kate might have come across as lecturing, but her genuine warmth and authenticity shine through. 

She is relatable and gloriously unroyal when she giggles, says ‘yeah’ and ‘hunky dory’, or talks about George being noisy. 

She comes across as the friend who would commiserate with you over a cuppa by saying ‘I love my baby but it’s bloody hard, isn’t it?’

Too often mummy podcasts and bloggers – and there are hundreds – oscillate wildly between painting a schmaltzy, impossibly perfect vision of their lives and a hilariously dismal world which involves never-ending chores. 

The truth, as Kate knows, lies somewhere in between.

I had a good chat last week with a friend expecting her first child. Yes, the stuff at the start is terrible, I said, but it’s worth it because they are such a joy.

Now I have two children and every single day they make me laugh. 

Yes they drive me mad at times but they have restored my faith in humanity and its innate goodness in its purist form. 

As Bill Murray’s character says in the film Lost in Translation: ‘The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born. Your life as you know it is gone… But they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.’

I realise, having struggled to have my second child, that if you’re trying to conceive all this is very hard to hear.

THE Duchess has nannies and housemaids and that undoubtedly makes life a lot easier but, as she says, the ‘mum guilt’ hits us all. The most moving part of the interview, for me, was Kate’s mantra that mums need to cut themselves some slack. 

A ‘wise man’ told her – Prince Charles, perhaps? – that ‘it’s not possible to do every pick-up and drop-off’.

I often miss three bedtimes in a row due to work commitments and I feel guilty for the kids’ sake but, selfishly, I mostly feel really sad for myself that I’m missing out on these precious moments.

I know stay-at-home mums who feel guilty too, though for different reasons. 

Sometimes when you’re around your kids the whole time they can drive you nuts and you can’t help but snap at them, then you feel terrible afterwards.

Instead of beating ourselves up, we need to make the most of the time we do share with our children. Listen to them. Laugh with them. 

Create memories that will last a lifetime. That’s easy to say when you’re not spending your weekends doing the laundry or cleaning the house. But I think the Duchess gets that.

And she is absolutely right, of course, that you can’t do it all yourself. 

'It takes a village to raise a child': The Duchess made the point in a speech in Pakistan

‘It takes a village to raise a child’: The Duchess made the point in a speech in Pakistan

During a tour of Pakistan last October, Kate made a speech at an orphanage saying: ‘Earlier this year I talked about the fact that it takes a village to raise a child. 

‘The village we have seen here today is the best representation of that ideal that I could have possibly imagined.’

In those early days after my son was born, I used my ‘village’. 

I called my aunt, a highly respected nurse and health visitor, and she gave me the best motherhood advice I’ve ever heard: ‘It’s like the safety drill you get on an aeroplane,’ she said. ‘You’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on first.’

By that she meant, of course, that by looking after yourself you ARE looking after your baby. We’d do well, then, to remember the podcast title: Happy Mum, Happy Baby.  

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