The Duchess of Cambridge has paid tribute to the nation’s community of midwives – after joining them on home visits during a hospital placement last month.
Mother-of-three Kate, 37, today highlights the invaluable work they do in an open letter to mark the forthcoming World Health Organisation’s International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
Addressing midwives, she writes how important it is to be ‘recognising and celebrating the humbling work that you and your colleagues do day in, day out, to improve the lives of others’.
She says: ‘You are there for women at their most vulnerable; you witness strength, pain and unimaginable joy on a daily basis. Your work often goes on behind the scenes, and away from the spotlight.’
Four photographs taken during her time at Kingston Hospital maternity unit in south-west London, newly released by Kensington Palace, show her with a delighted couple and their newborn baby
The duchess learnt about what it was like to work in frontline maternity care, describing the experience as ‘a privilege’
At the end of November, the duchess spent two days privately undertaking ‘work experience’ at Kingston Hospital maternity unit in south-west London to learn about what it was like to work in frontline maternity care, describing the experience as ‘a privilege’.
Four photographs taken during her time there, newly released by Kensington Palace, show her with a delighted couple and their newborn baby, chatting to staff and posing for a team photo.
Kate also sat in on home birth meetings at the hospital and in patients’ homes, learning about everything from the kit carried by midwives to the practicalities of setting up a birthing pool.
The duchess did not witness or take part in any medical procedures. In tribute to the staff at Kingston Hospital and their colleagues worldwide, Kate writes: ‘Although this was not my first encounter with the care and kindness provided by midwives across the country, it gave me a broader insight into the true impact you have on everybody you help.’
Over the past few years, the duchess has dedicated a significant amount of her work to an ‘Early Years’ project, concentrating on the pivotal period of development between pregnancy and the age of five when children build crucial foundations for life.
Kate also sat in on home birth meetings at the hospital and in patients’ homes, learning about everything from the kit carried by midwives to the practicalities of setting up a birthing pool. Pictured: speaking to staff at Kingston Hospital’s Maternity Unit
Experts believe that experiences during this time can have a direct and significant effect on development later in life and cause issues such as addiction, anti-social behaviour and mental illness.
The duchess says: ‘Your role in supporting this critical phase of development extends far beyond the complicated task of delivering a baby successfully. The help and reassurance you provide for parents-to-be and parents of new-borns is just as crucial. It goes a long way in building parents’ confidence from the start, with lifelong impact on the future happiness of their children.’
Kate also reveals that while working at Kingston Hospital –where about 13 babies are born each day – she shadowed community midwives on their daily rounds and was welcomed in to people’s homes. ‘I was truly touched by the trust that people placed in me, sharing their experiences and voicing their fears openly,’ she says.
She also spent time in hospital clinics and on post-natal wards, experiencing the full range of services on offer at the institution.
The Duchess of Cambridge with staff during the time in November she spent at Kingston Hospital’s Maternity Unit in south London
The duchess praised the teams she met, saying: ‘No matter the setting, I was continually struck by the compassion that those of you I spent time with showed, and the incredible work ethic you demonstrated on behalf of your entire profession…’
During each of her three pregnancies, the duchess suffered from the debilitating condition Hyperemesis Gravidarum and was hospitalised when expecting Prince George after becoming severely dehydrated.
The condition causes severe vomiting and nausea, which can last until the 20th week of pregnancy and even beyond, and leaves sufferers being sick dozens of times a day.
Kate also quotes the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, the 200th anniversary of whose birth will be celebrated next year. Nightingale once said: ‘I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.’
Kate writes: ‘It is that mantra that I have seen time and time again in all of my encounters with you. You don’t ask for praise or for recognition but instead unwaveringly continue your amazing work bringing new life into our world…
‘So as we look ahead to next year, I want to thank you for all that you do. It has been a real privilege learning from you so far, and I look forward to meeting and learning from even more of you in the coming years and decades.’
The Royal College of Midwives – which has the Princess Royal as its patron – welcomed the duchess’s letter and her appreciation for the positive impact they have on the lives of women and babies.
Gill Walton, the RCM’s general secretary, said: ‘We are delighted that the work of midwives and maternity support workers has been recognised in this way by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge.
‘Having spent time with RCM members at Kingston Hospital, she has seen first-hand the positive impact good maternity support can have, not only for mother and baby, but the whole family.’
Ready for business! Polished Kate Middleton donned a £190 Michael Kors shirt dress and favourite £2,300 diamond earrings as she shadowed staff at a London maternity unit
The Duchess of Cambridge looked ready for business in a designer shirt dress as she shadowed staff at a London hospital last month, photos released today reveal.
Kate Middleton, 37, was typically polished in the £190 purple-patterned Michael Kors as she met staff during her two-day visit to the maternity unit at Kingston Hospital.
She added a little glitz to her ensemble with £2,300 Kiki McDonough diamond earrings – the leaf-shaped, Lauren style pair are a firm favourite with the mother-of-three, having been worn by Kate at several engagements.
Photos of her outfit from the unannounced engagement were released tonight, alongside details of her work.
Perfectly polished: Kate Middleton, 37, donned a £190 Michael Kors as she met staff during her two-day visit to the maternity unit at Kingston Hospital, photos released today reveal
Beaming: Photos of her outfit from the unannounced engagement were released tonight, alongside details of her work. Pictured, Kate shares a joke with hospital staff during a break
Touch of sparkle: Kate added a little glitz to her ensemble with £2,300 Kiki McDonough diamond earrings – the leaf-shaped, Lauren style pair are a firm favourite with the royal
Glitz: The earrings, pictured, have been worn by the Duchess on a number of occasions
News that the royal spent time with nurses at the hospital first emerged at the end of November.
The new images show the Duchess was typically polished for the community outing, which has been described as ‘work experience’.
She plumped for a flattering shirt dress by American designer Michael Kors which featured an eye-catching geometric print.
The frock was similar to the £215 design by the label that she wore to take Prince George, six, and Princess Charlotte, four, to the first day of school in September.
Accentuating her svelte frame, the Duchess accessorised with a narrow black waist belt.
Demure Duchess: Kate looked smart for the community outing, which has been described as ‘work experience’. The Duchess is seen crouching over a baby in a cot as parents look on
Passion project: Kate (pictured speaking to staff) told midwives their work is of ‘fundamental importance’ to the early years development of children
She finished the look with a pair of practical black tights and what appear to be a pair of black boots.
Kate wore her bouncy brunette locks styled in her signature side parting and opted for minimal makeup as she sported a simple smokey eye.
Four pictures of the duchess were released by Kensington Palace to show her time with the midwives, and in one image Kate is pictured crouching over a baby in a cot as the infant’s parents watch, while in others she is seen meeting staff.
It comes after the duchess praised the country’s midwives for their ‘amazing work bringing new life into our world’ in an open letter to the profession.
Wardrobe favourite: Kate wore the £2,300 Kiki McDonough diamond earrings to the King’s Cup Sailing Race on the Isle of Wight in August, pictured
Lookalike: The frock was similar to the £215 design by the label that she wore to take Prince George, six, and Princess Charlotte, four, to the first day of school in September
Kate told midwives their work is of ‘fundamental importance’ to the early years development of children – an issue she has been raising awareness about for a number of years.
The duchess revealed she took part in home visits with midwives during the two days she spent shadowing staff at Kingston Hospital’s maternity unit.
In the letter, published ahead of the start of 2020 designated Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Kate said: ‘You are there for women at their most vulnerable; you witness strength, pain and unimaginable joy on a daily basis.
‘Your work often goes on behind the scenes, and away from the spotlight. Recently however, I was privileged enough to witness a small section of it first hand, spending several days at Kingston Hospital’s maternity unit.
‘Although this was not my first encounter with the care and kindness provided by midwives across the country, it gave me a broader insight into the true impact you have on everybody you help.’