Aussies were excited enough when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle touched down in Sydney ahead of their Royal Tour in October. But there was even more to come when the popular royal couple announced they were expecting a baby.
The joyous news captivated the world, making global headlines, with photographers snapping a glowing Meghan as she navigated her way through swarms of crowds hoping to get a glimpse of the now pregnant Duchess.
Since then, the 37-year-old, who is due to give birth in the British spring of March next year, has often been spotted cradling her growing baby bump — and an expert has revealed why.
Meghan has only just entered the second trimester of her pregnancy and while it’s too early to be feeling the little one kick, it’s likely she will be experiencing an overwhelming desire to protect her precious bub, says Tasha Jennings, a Melbourne-based fertility specialist.
“I’ve treat hundreds of women a year, and yes, I find touching of the belly is very common and often quite an unconscious move especially for women who’s love language is touch,” Ms Jennings told news.com.au.
“Noticing Meghan’s physical nature, it wouldn’t surprise me that’s how she expresses herself.
“When I have seen photos of her and Harry, they’re always holding hands and are reasonably more affectionate than other royal couples.
“I am not presuming to understand her in-depth nature, but it wouldn’t surprise me if ‘touch’ is how she feels and conveys love.
“When a baby isn’t here yet and we can’t see or look at it, the feeling of touch is the most powerful thing we can do.”
She explained that while most women will start to feel their baby move by around 18 to 20 weeks, some women may feel it sooner.
“If it’s not kicking she would want to feel for it,” Ms Jennings said. “It’s such an exiting moment and such a beautiful connection, and having that ‘touch’ is conveying that connection especially if she is a ‘touch’ person.
“When surrounded by people that you don’t know or if you’re feeling threatened (not that Meghan is), it’s natural to want to cover and protect your baby,” Ms Jennings added.
“If you asked Meghan, she probably wouldn’t even be aware of it.”
But there’s plenty of royal watchers who have noticed her behaviour sparking a bizarre, online debate.
Ahead of her recent surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards this week, The Duchess of Sussex posed in a way at the style-centred event that some interpreted as hammy and others as maternal, as she presented an award to her wedding dress designer, Givenchy artistic director Clare Waight Keller.
“#MeghanMarkle holding on to that bump like someone’s about to snatch it,” a Twitter user commented.
While another added: “When will Meghan “Duchess of Sussex”, stop constantly cradling her bump! Like the whole bloody world doesn’t know she’s pregnant & it’s not like she doesn’t get enough attention she’s craves.”
There’s even a Twitter page dedicated to it, called @MarkleBabyBump, with a recent photo (below) alongside the caption: “I‘m Meghan Markle’s cradled baby bump and I’m famous!”
Others defended the former Suits star, pointing out that pregnancy is inherently uncomfortable and there’s nothing wrong with cradling the tiny, living human being in her body. Ms Jennings agrees.
“I touched my belly all the time and a lot of women do this without realising — the main thing is that pregnant women want to feel their belly growing and getting bigger,” Ms Jennings explained.
Some people assume it’s because Meghan, who is known for leading a fit and healthy lifestyle (her blog about the topic having since been deleted), is struggling to come to terms with her changing body.
— Treacle (@CallMeTreacle)
— ThotsAloud (@ThawtsAloud)
“I don’t find that to be the case,” Ms Jennings said, saying she treats many, health conscious women who just see their belly as an extension of their family.
If anything, Ms Jennings said that Meghan, who tends to cradle her bump with two hands, shows signs of both pride and affection, suggesting she will be a very hands-on new mother.
Tasha Jennings is a naturopath, natural fertility specialist, author and speaker who also runs podcasts and webinars on various topics from the psychology of fertility to the role of male preconception health.