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Pregnant Meghan is targeted by trolls for 'touching her stomach too much' on stage at the British Fashion Awards – but an expert insists the habit can POSITIVELY affect the baby

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 11/12/2018 Jessica Rach For Mailonline
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images)

A glowing Meghan Markle set social media ablaze as she was photographed proudly cradling her baby bump on stage at the British Fashion Awards on Monday evening. 

The royal's surprise appearance at the glitzy ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall - where she presented her wedding dress designer Clare Waight Keller with the British womenswear designer of the year award - left many fans delighted by the glimpse of Meghan's blossoming bump on display. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images)

However the response was not solely positive; with some on Twitter criticising the pregnant Duchess for 'touching her stomach too much', branding it 'irritating' and 'smug'. 

But now an expert has revealed why Meghan's tendency to keep a protective arm or two draped over her expanding stomach could positively impact her unborn child.   

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images)

Katherine Graves, founder of KG Hypnobirthing, told FEMAIL that when mothers-to-be put their hands on their bumps in hypnobirthing classes, the 'baby responds every time'. 

Even if the gesture is solely a comforting gesture for Meghan herself, that will 'have a profound effect on her baby', said Katherine, who helps train midwives working at the Lindo Wing, where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth, before adding that 'it's a positive thing for both mum and baby to touch and reassure'.     

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images)

In the wake of Meghan's surprise solo appearance at the glamorous event on Monday night, one Twitter user wrote online: 'Oh ok we believe  Meghan that you are pregnant stop holding that bump its irritating now too much.'

Another added: 'Markle needs to desperately stop holding her baby bump because it’s not as if everyone doesn’t already know'.

A third tweet read: 'Meghan we know you are pregnant. You can stop holding onto the bump with both hands now. It won’t fall off'.  

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white)  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images)

Katherine told FEMAIL that stroking of the stomach is a relaxation method she asks clients to practice in hypnobirthing classes - a birthing technique Meghan has reportedly been reading up about as she prepares to welcome her first child with Prince Harry in the spring. 

Katharine explained that touching her bump will help Meghan feel calm, releasing the so-called 'feel-good' hormone oxytocin, which goes directly to the placenta to positively affect her baby, and can even help stave off post-natal depression after the birth. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Rosmund Pike on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Rosmund Pike on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/BFC/Getty Images)

Katharine also warned that conversely, any stress caused by criticism directed at mothers-to-be could cause the hormone cortisol to be released, with the potential for negative effects on an unborn child.    

'It has been shown time and time again that babies recognise what they have experienced in the womb after they are born,' she told FEMAIL. 

'They recognise songs they have heard, and they certainly recognise their mother’s and their father’s voices.

'Relaxations in hypnobirthing class involve having a hand on the bump, and the baby responds every time.

'A relaxed uterus gives baby the space to turn into the optimal position for birth and relaxed mums produce feel good hormone oxytocin, which goes direct to the baby via the placenta.'

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images)

She added: 'If touching her bump does nothing more than help Meghan feel calm, even that will have a profound effect on her baby as mother’s hormones have been shown to influence the baby too, calm births produce calm babies of which there is evidence for.

'It’s a positive thing for both mum and baby to touch and reassure baby, which is vital for babies bonding and well being, staving off postnatal depression and facilitating healthy connection for all.'

She added of the negative effects stress could cause: 'Being under strain and pressure from criticism puts mothers in the fear response with harmful hormone cortisol produced, which crosses to the placenta affecting the baby.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/BFC/Getty Images)

'Corisol is a harmful side effect of stress, constricting oxygenated blood to the baby and having a negative effect on both.

'Meghan is practicing responsive natural parenting and touching, speaking and cradling her bump will be very beneficial for the baby'. 

Liz Halliday, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Private Midwives, added: 'At public events, Meghan may feel more protective of her baby and thus cradle her bump more than usual. Mothers may feel that stroking their bump calms the baby in some situations and during public events Meghan may be either consciously or sub-consciously attempting to do this.' 

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images)

Nonetheless, the Duchess was still subjected to criticism from Twitter users who complained that she was 'attention seeking' by constantly highlighting her expanding bump.  

However many rushed to the former Suits star's defence, with one tweeting: 'People are so bothered by Meghan holding her bump. I did this all the time. Some actually seem p***ed off about it in the same way they object to touching Harry. Someone actually said she's treating her baby like a trophy! Like wtf?'

And a mother explained she could be comforting the baby in louder surroundings, adding: 'Leave Meghan and her bump alone. It’s extremely personal. The baby might be extra restless especially in a noisy environment. I know because I have two children. Cradling the bump soothes and calms them, okay? Go to bed'.

Another wrote: 'Why does Meghan holding her baby bump bother so many people? Why do you care? you'd think it was a crime that's she's touching HER baby'. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Rosamund Pike on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/BFC/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Rosamund Pike on stage during The Fashion Awards 2018 In Partnership With Swarovski at Royal Albert Hall on December 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/BFC/Getty Images)

Another fan said: 'She's so warm and attentive all the time, its obvious she'd be that way with a growing baby inside of her.'

Earlier this year Khloe Kardashian, at the time pregnant with her daughter, True, became the subject of online criticism for proudly cradling her growing baby bump. 

In February she hit back at trolls on social media in a defiant Twitter post that said: 'People are very opinionated about my bump. I choose to cradle my bump because it’s MINE. I’ve waited for this VERY short moment for YEARS. I have only months to enjoy this phase in my life, so I will touch my bump and love my bump as often as I choose. Mommy loves you baby!'

According to Vanity Fair, Meghan is planning a natural home birth, with a source telling the publication: 'Doria plans to be around a lot when the baby arrives, and there are plans for her to have a dedicated space at their new home.

'She wants to be on hand to help Meghan and Harry with the baby. Doria will be involved and if she's involved she will be encouraging Meg to go for a natural birth.'

Gallery: Meghan's style file (Photo Services)

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