Duchess Kate of Cambridge gave birth to her third royal baby on Monday in London around 11 a.m., and by 6 p.m. she was posing for the cameras looking gorgeous — in heels — and minutes later on her way home to Kensington Palace.
Around the world, envious moms asked themselves: How does she do that?
The answers, experts say: Good health, good diet, no birth complications and a small army of supportive friends, aides and family.
Many women will conclude that Kate's seeming ease in birthing is "compensation" for her miserable battles with acute morning sickness in the early stages of all her pregnancies, says Dr. Sheryl A. Ross, known as “Dr. Sherry,” an OB/GYN and women’s health expert and author of the book, She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period.
"She sprinted through the delivery, which was a blessing for her and maybe what was owed to her," joked Ross. "But there is no connection between morning sickness and an easy birth."
Kate already has a charmed life: Rich and beautiful, in love and married to a royal prince, she's a future queen of the United Kingdom, with two cute kids, fabulous palaces to live in, and even an adorable dog.
Her third baby followed the pattern of her two previous children, Prince George born in 2013 and Princess Charlotte born in 2015: Short labor (about five hours this time), no problems, quick delivery, and up and out the door of St. Mary's Hospital, looking breathtakingly good to meet the world's media gathered outside.
"Can not believe how unbelievable Kate looks hours after giving birth 😱 She is glowing!" marveled Twitter user Tallia Storm.
"I wish I could look as great as Kate Middleton looked just a few HOURS after giving birth!! Congrats on baby number 3!!" tweeted Jenna Hardy.
With Prince George, who was born in the afternoon on July 22, 2013, she spent the night in the maternity wing of the Paddington-area hospital, emerging the following evening with the new third-in-line royal heir.
Charlotte was born May 2, 2015, at 8:34 a.m. local time, less than three hours after her mother checked into the hospital. The baby weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces, slightly less than her new little brother. Less than 10 hours later, the Cambridges left with the new princess to return to Kensington Palace.
So how does she do it? Here are some factors that could play a role:
The royal couple are well aware of the disruption their presence causes at the Lindo Wing, a busy maternity-care facility with scores of women arriving to give birth themselves.
Babies wait for no one, not even a crowd of wellwishers and a massive media mob gathered in the narrow street outside the door, with their whirring cameras and clanking stepladders and shouting and cheering and applauding.
Short hospital stays are the norm in Britain
According to The Guardian, research shows British mums are sent home from the hospital after childbirth more quickly than in any other developed country. They spend an average of just a day and a half in maternity units after having their babies – the shortest stay for any high-income country assessed, according to the data published in PLOS Medicine.
The other side of acute morning sickness?
Kate suffered from the rare syndrome "hyperemesis gravidarum" in the early weeks of her pregnancies. Each time, this common malady of pregnancy was so debilitating she had to stay in bed and forgo official engagements.
"Morning sickness is common — about 80% of women have it — but it tends to go away with no weight loss or other symptoms. But only 2% (of pregnant women) have the acute kind and they can lose up to 10% of their body weight," says Ross.
For this baby, morning sickness forced the palace to announce the pregnancy ahead of the usual 12-week date; her illness forced Kate to cancel an engagement, which would lead to inevitable speculation anyway.
Her battle with excessive vomiting even forced her to stay home in September for Prince George's first day at his new school in London; Prince William had to do the drop-off honors alone.
The cause of acute morning sickness remains largely unknown, Ross says, with hormonal changes, blood sugar levels and some psychological factors in the possible mix. There does not appear to be a genetic connection, Ross says.
"But some women are just more prone to it," Ross says. "If it occurs once, there's a higher risk for it reoccurring so we have to be very proactive with those who have had it once, put them on a strict diet friendly to the stomach. Weight loss is a big concern, for both mother and baby, and it can lead to a higher risk of miscarriage."
Ross says the average amount of time for labor is 16 hours; the second average is about eight hours, and the third average is four to eight hours. Kate seems to fall in the latter category.
Ross says the first birth is usually the hardest on the body and after that the body has "good recall" to adjust and stretch to new pregnancies and deliveries. If she received an epidural, that also could minimize the trauma to the body, Ross says.
General good health
Kate did not gain excessive weight during her pregnancies, seemingly below the recommended average of 25-30 pounds, Ross says.
"It's the combination of someone who is in good health, who took great care of herself, got adequate sleep and took her vitamins and for the entire nine months," Ross says. "She was the epitome of the perfect pregnant woman as far as taking care of herself, and that's a huge factor."
Kate's helpful staff
Few women go to the hospital to give birth accompanied by a personal assistant, stylist and hairdresser, ready with the right clothes, brushes and makeup to render them camera-ready.
Natasha Archer, Kate's stylist, was spotted by the media mob outside the hospital just before Kate came out.
And Amanda Cook Tucker, her personal hairdresser, was seen leaving the hospital, having been on hand to blow out her lustrous locks. She was there for Charlotte's birth as well.
Kate's outfit — crimson dress, knee-length with a lacy Peter Pan collar, plus beige suede high heels — seemed carefully chosen: The blogs who follow her fashion immediately pointed to Will's late mother, Princess Diana, and her outfit when she emerged from the hospital with baby Prince Harry in 1984.