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– Pregnant Celebrities ‘Too Posh To Push!’

Pregnant celebrities ‘too posh to push’

New mothers choose surgical delivery in bid to get fit and toned

Anne Marie Owens National Post

Monday, February 10, 2003


If Claudia Schiffer and Elle Macpherson are true to their supermodel trade, they will likely be returned to their whittled forms within weeks after giving birth, flashing their toned bodies in public before their new sons are even a month old.

These new mothers, who both gave birth in the past two weeks, are the latest in a long list of models and actresses who are beginning to superimpose their impossible body image standards on pregnancy.

The pictures in tabloids and glossy magazines show a stream of celebrities slimmed down and toned within mere months of giving birth — the result of rigid pilates routines, personal trainers, strict diets and even, it is rumoured, babies delivered about a month early by Caesarean section.

With their unbelievably flat stomachs, their scanty post-pregnancy fashions, and their toned physiques, it should come as no surprise that these celebrity mothers operate under a different set of rules than most women.

“The supermom syndrome has expanded from working and having kids, to working and having kids and having a body like this,” said Dr. Jan Christilaw, a Vancouver obstetrician-gynecologist and head of specialized women’s health at B.C. Women’s Hospital.

“It is not attainable in most women’s lives — nor should it be.”

She joins other medical experts in their condemnation of this new celebrity standard of post-pregnancy shape.

“Women’s bodies change when they have a baby. The fat distribution changes. It’s functional and, I think, it’s beautiful. We should be celebrating the changes that women’s bodies are going through,” said Dr. Christilaw. “The main problem I have is that this creates an atmosphere of frustration for women.”

She said the speedy return to pre-pregnancy form “usually means that you’ve manipulated your body in ways that are not very healthy.”

There have always been rumours that some celebrities, in their desire to keep a streamlined form, push for an early C-section as a way of avoiding the final month of major abdominal stretching.

It is the extreme of what some tabloids have dubbed the “too posh to push” movement, whereby wealthy and simply busy mothers eschew the haphazard nature of a natural birth for the precision of a surgical delivery.

Those rumours abounded earlier this month, when Ms. Schiffer, the German-born supermodel, had her son delivered a few weeks early by Caesarean because of risks associated with an earlier accident involving her foot.

Among the celebrities who have delivered their babies by C-sections: Catherine Zeta Jones, Madonna, Céline Dion and Victoria Beckham, the former Posh Spice and one of the original namesakes behind “too posh to push.”

Dr. Jennifer Blake, obstetrician and gynecologist in chief at Toronto’s Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, says these flat-stomached pictures of new celebrity mothers strain credulity.

“I have never seen anybody with a flat stomach after pregnancy — never,” she said. “There is a stretching of the abdominal wall that occurs in pregnancy. It is physiological. It is necessary.”

She said although it is possible for some very tall and thin women, the typical model physique, to carry their pregnancy more upwards than outwards, she suspects these celebrities look so thin due to clever clothing choices, flattening undergarments and even digital manipulation of their photographed images.

“I am skeptical really,” said Dr. Blake. “Furthermore, I would be really concerned if women actually thought this was the standard to be achieved. The most important thing for a woman who is pregnant or has just had a baby is her health and the health of her baby. A flat stomach should be the last thing on her mind.”

Wendy Burgoyne, a health promotion consultant with Ontario’s Best Start program, said it can actually be dangerous for women to lose weight too quickly after pregnancy. “There is a reason why that weight typically goes off slowly and it is to support breast-feeding,” she said.

“Women shouldn’t be worrying about losing weight, particularly at a period of time when you aren’t getting much sleep, you’re tired and not in the best condition. Losing weight can be pretty stressful.

“This is not something you should be thinking about right after having a baby.”

Most celebrity mothers, when asked how they managed to transform their postpartum bodies so speedily, wax on about the merits of a good diet and exercise regime.

Pilates and yoga seem to be the toning methods of choice for the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Cindy Crawford and Elizabeth Hurley, although the pace would have to be intense to bring about the kind of results these stars get in a matter of months.

Sascha Ferguson, owner of Absolution, a Los Angeles gym favoured by the celebrity set, maintains it is entirely possible for women who are absolutely dedicated to exercise to escape without many of the usual ravages of pregnancy. “These celebrities are just hard workers when it comes to their bodies.”

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