As if new mothers don’t have enough to contend with, the latest trend of celebrity mums parading their taut, toned bodies just weeks after giving birth sets them yet another unrealistic expectation.

It seems that women are exposed to this kind of “supermum” ideal even before they’ve delivered their babies, with a recent photo spread of a fitness celebrity doing crunches while heavily pregnant setting off a howl of protest among Australian physiotherapists.

One of these physio’s, Lisa Westlake, who is also a fitness professional and Pelvic Floor First ambassador, said this kind of activity at such a late stage of pregnancy risked more than just long-term consequences for a woman’s back health, incontinence and overall fitness; it also compromised blood flow to the placenta.

Moreover, she said, women who looked to these celebrities as role models and attempted to emulate them were putting themselves at risk of long-term harm, particularly if they didn’t have the same level of core strength and pelvic floor control.

Westlake said there were many safe alternatives for women who wanted to maintain their fitness during and after pregnancy.

“It would be great to see these role models demonstrating some of the fabulous safe exercise alternatives for pregnant women. Exercises like core stability workouts on a fit ball, hovers at the wall, or four-point kneeling exercises could achieve the same results,” Westlake said.

She recommended the Continence Foundation of Australia’s free Pregnancy Pelvic Floor Plan app, which has customised, pelvic floor-safe workouts suitable for pregnant and postnatal women. She also suggested the pelvicfloorfirst.org.au website, where women could learn how to get fit while protecting and strengthening their pelvic floor.

This expectation to quickly “bounce back” to pre-baby body shape is particularly unrealistic given Michigan University research found, using MRI imaging, that some of the injuries sustained during a protracted childbirth, such as pelvic muscle tears and stress fractures, were comparable to sporting injuries.

New mums’ mental health is also an important consideration, with Australian research showing women with physical problems such as back pain, sexual problems and incontinence six to seven months after giving birth are at increased risk of depression.

Continence Foundation of Australia CEO Rowan Cockerell said pregnant women and new mums should tailor fitness routines according to their pelvic floor fitness level, rather than be influenced by media images.

“We know that one in three women who have ever had a baby will wet themselves, so it is critical that the focus is on prevention or seeking early intervention for any level of pelvic floor dysfunction, because it is unlikely to get better on its own and may become worse,” Ms Cockerell said.

“Women’s health physiotherapists can also instruct women on how to do pelvic floor muscle exercises, which should be included in fitness and daily routines.”

Personal trainers or group fitness instructors should also screen clients for pelvic floor problems and provide pelvic floor safe exercise alternatives in their sessions, she said.

Do you feel there is too much pressure to get your pre-baby body back too soon? Please comment below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • I will do it in my own time.

    Reply

  • I never got back to what i was pre pregnancy and never will.

    Reply

  • I hate all the pressure and expectations! Can’t we just enjoy our time with our new baby’s and not have that added stress of getting our bodies back ASAP!

    Reply

  • Good article – much better to focus on health and wellbeing than how you look.
    I was totally consumed with caring for my baby so gave no though to my health, let alone to my appearance!

    Reply

  • There certainly is. And some people make ridiculous comments without thinking. Whilst visiting me in hospital 2 days post birth a visitor kindly told me ‘you look pregnant still, is there another in there?’.


    • Oh, that’s unbelievably insensitive – and wrong on so many levels!

    Reply

  • Celebrities have dieticians, physiotherapists, a personal trainer and a nanny who can take care of their child. For the rest of us non celebrities, it is important to have a positive self image.

    Reply

  • Celebrities have help – everyone shouldn’t forget that. I always found that provided you did your pelvic floor exercises then you were pretty much OK. Just keep on with your normal routine of eating and you should stay the weight you want and be flexible like you were before the baby.

    Reply

  • Personally I don’t think any mum should feel pressured because of what the celebs do. Why should we make them as our role model ? If you feel you’re sensitive for their opinion, why would you even watch and follow them ?


    • Yes, but many young women may not feel quite so secure about their bodies, or how they measure up to others, as others may.

    Reply

  • I do think there is a lot of pressure, but I also think there’s a lot of great conversation about not feeling pressured, too. The more we talk about it, the better it is for everyone, I think. We’re all different, we all have different post-birth situations and experiences. All in good time, and what’s best for the individual, I think.

    Reply

  • Its ok for celebrities. They have the money and connections to suit themselves. The average mother doesn’t and I don’t believe she should fee pressured. Just enjoy your new baby and take care of yourself. Eat properly and get exercise, especially by walking your baby in the pram. Don’t bow to anyone’s pressure. Do what suits you and your health. Take care.

    Reply

  • Personally, I don’t feel the pressure. Most mums don’t have the time as these celebrities do

    Reply

  • pelvic floor muscle exercises are so important.

    Reply

  • Some are expected to have unrealist expectations. Being pregnant stretches your skin on your stomach the first time, and most find it happens even more with their next baby. It isn’t only about losing weight. You can’t expect your stretched skin to shrink back to its original size. Some Mums are very lucky.

    Reply

  • Lke hf

    Reply

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