Arts & Theater

Voices rise against pressure to lose pregnancy weight

From virtually the moment their condition becomes visible, pregnant women are treated – as they should be! – like royalty.

Doors are held.

Chairs are voluntarily surrendered.

And upscale birthing accommodations stand at the ready, offering every pampering service a new or expectant mom could imagine.

If only such gentle treatment extended into that first year or two of motherhood.

But in today’s digital social media age, a new mother’s body – you know, the one that just carried another human being for nine months – has become fair game about which others feel free to comment.

And the post-baby, weight-loss updates of a certain celebrity new mom – we’re looking at you and your obsessive Snapchat account, Kim Kardashian West – don’t help matters for millennial new moms who might be feeling undue pressure to replicate the reality show star’s eight-month, 75-pound weight loss.

Well, no more – at least not if some other high-profile Hollywood moms of newborns have anything to say about it.

Last week, actresses Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively both made news with protestations over the focus put on their figures in the months right after giving birth.

On her Instagram page, Hathaway, who gave birth in March, posted the following comment under a photo of a pair of jeans that she’d cut into shorts:

“There is no shame in gaining weight during pregnancy (or ever). There is no shame if it takes longer than you think it will to lose the weight (if you want to lose it at all). There is no shame in finally breaking down and making your own jean shorts because last summer’s are just too dang short for this summer’s thighs. Bodies change. Bodies grow. Bodies shrink. It’s all love (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.).”

Likewise, Lively took exception to an interviewer on an Australian TV morning show raving about how quickly the actress’ body bounced back into shape for her role in the movie “The Shallows”:

“I think a woman’s body after having a baby is pretty amazing. You don’t have to be Victoria’s Secret-ready right away. You’ve just done this incredible miracle that life has to offer. You gave birth to a human being! I would really like to see that celebrated.”

Dr. David Feld, a Jupiter, Fla., OB-GYN, has been treating patients for more than three decades. He says that, depending on numerous factors – many of which are outside a woman’s control – a new mom shouldn’t expect to feel like her old self for quite a while.

“It can take up to eight or 10 months for a woman to fully recover anatomically, metabolically and hormonally after giving birth,” he says.

What’s more, the mother’s recovery can be significantly impacted by how well – or poorly – the baby sleeps through the night.

“Sleep deprivation affects new mothers as much as anything,” Feld explains.

In addition to simply sapping her energy, absent restorative quality sleep, a new mother can experience a cascade of conditions, including:

▪  A compromised immune system.

▪  Some level of postpartum depression.

▪  A buildup of the stress hormone cortisol.

▪  Difficulty losing weight because of the excess cortisol.

“When celebrities trumpet their quick postpartum weight loss, they’re setting unrealistic expectations for the typical woman – one who doesn’t have a personal chef, personal trainer and multiple nannies,” Feld says.

Everyday folks have to rely on support systems however, and wherever they can find them.

For instance, at Jupiter Medical Center, Dancing for Birth classes are offered for expectant and new mothers. The 60-minute sessions fuse dance fitness with childbirth and postpartum education – all set in a supportive environment of those sharing similar experiences.

Feld stresses to his patients the importance of controlling what they can control – most notably, their nutrition plan: “I recommend following a Mediterranean style eating program – which means consuming plenty of fresh lean protein, fruits, vegetables and nuts, as well as avoiding simple carbohydrates, sugars and processed food.”

The ideal pregnancy weight gain, he says, is “between 24 and 28 pounds.”

Ashley Finley, 25, of Riviera Beach, Fla., who gained 30 pounds before giving birth to twins Kaylee and Kaylyn in 2014, also eschews worrying about aesthetics. “Because I carried two babies at once, I’m going to have stretch marks – and that’s fine.”