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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February 2005, 10:43 GMT
New mums feel pressure to be slim
Catherine Zeta Jones and Victoria Beckham
Catherine Zeta Jones and Victoria Beckham; top post-birth figures
Virtually all new mothers are unhappy about the way their body looks after childbirth - with a quarter considering plastic surgery, a survey found.

Mother and Baby magazine surveyed 2,000 new mums, who said seeing celebrities regain their figures in weeks or even days added to the pressure they felt.

Most women said they had not regained their pre-pregnancy figures 22 months after giving birth.

Speedy celebrity weight-loss was put down to surgery by 80% of women.

Flabby stomach - 83%
Stretchmarks - 62%
Droopy breasts - 51%
Flabby legs - 31%
Cellulite - 30%
Flabby arms - 23%
Saggy bottom - 20%
Puffy ankles - 7%

When they were asked which famous mum they would like to look like, most said they wished they had Catherine Zeta Jones' top half, and Victoria Beckham's bottom half.

The survey found 86% of new mothers said they felt more attractive before pregnancy and 82% said they were unhappy with their shape after pregnancy.

Seventy-seven per cent said they had been "shocked" by the changes to their body.

On average, first-time mothers weighed 11st 2lbs (70.7kg). The average pre-pregnancy weight was 10st 2lbs (64.4kg) - but women wanted to weigh around 9st 5lbs (59.4kg).

'Yummy mummies'

Women said childbirth radically changed their bodies, altering the stomachs, arms, legs, breasts and bottoms - and not for the better.

Two thirds of women said they thought about their shape every day, whatever their current size.

1 - Catherine Zeta-Jones
2 - Victoria Beckham
3 - Davina McCall
4 - Kate Winslet
5 - Liz Hurley
6 - Melinda Messenger
7 - Gwyneth Paltrow
8 - Elle Mcpherson
9 - Madonna
10 - Kerry McFadden

Sixty per cent said they believed they would be happier if they could improve their bodies.

Those who were considering cosmetic surgery said they would be most likely to opt for liposuction, tummy tucks or breast enlargements.

However, 94% of the men questioned by the magazine said they found their partners just as attractive as they had before.

Elena Dalrymple, Mother & Baby editor and mother of 16-month-old Kate, said: "After having a baby mums should be revelling in the joy of their new baby and eating well so they can healthily breastfeed, not despairing about their body shape and semi-starving themselves.

"But the pressure from super-slim celebrity mums to be a yummy mummy is so immense, ordinary mums feel they should have a film star body and be back in their jeans just days after birth."

Gillian Fletcher, president of the National Childbirth Trust said: "Celebrity mums who are seen to be shedding pounds immediately after birth put undue pressure on new mums to lose weight quickly.

"It's understandable that women feel under pressure to look good after giving birth, but it is important to do only as much as you can.

"Try to use any spare time to enjoy your baby but also take a little time to look after yourself too."

Your comments:

The "ideal" weight that the women you mention want is much lower than their pre-pregnancy weights. What on earth makes them think that after pregnancy they can reach their ideal weight if they can't even achieve it before pregnancy. Women can't have it all - losing weight takes discipline, exercise, and deprivation. Our normal couch-potato, consumption-oriented lifestyles don't support this. It's all about having realistic expectations. Losing weight is hard work...no pain no gain. That goes for the guys too.
Mick, Seattle, USA

I do think it is a bit unrealistic for any normal mother to compare herself to celeb mums as they do have the means to keep themselves looking fantastic. I may sometimes feel unhappy with my post-baby shape but only have to look at my reward of 3 lovely children to know it is worth it.
Morna McIntosh, Leven, Fife

Don't be a sheep and follow the celebrities - they have to be good shape in order to get work. We normal beings can at least relish in the fact that we can enjoy the pregnancy and the joy of motherhood, coupled with sensible diet and exercise without worrying whether our 'shape' will determine whether we get the next job or not! Vanity has its own price!
Pramala, Dallas, USA

I was actually happier with my body after my first child was born. I lost weight, cut my hair, ran a marathon... felt great! I have a few extra pounds left after my second (almost 4 months) but I'll worry about that once I stop breastfeeding. You have the rest of your life to get back in shape, but only a short time with your tiny baby. Motherhood is far more important than weight!
Pam, Surrey, UK

Get over it everyone, life is way too short to be worrying about what you look like compared to those women! Enjoy living every day. They chose their way of life, they have to work hard to look good every day. Poor souls!
Amanda, Florida, USA

Having just had my first baby 11 months ago, I do acknowledge that my body has changed. However, for the first time in my whole life, I feel that I can accept myself for my shape and size. This acceptance has made me more attractive, because my confidence has increased tenfold. Why do we find flesh so repulsive in Western society? Why aren't women allowed to celebrate and cherish their bodies, especially after producing new life? It's ridiculous and depressing.
Kate, Lancaster, UK

People won't remember you were a size 8
Sharon, Salford, Englan

Women waste so much time wishing they looked like so and so, my life would be better if I had smaller this, bigger that. Be thankful for what you have now and be proud that your body has enabled you to give birth. Love is not based on looks alone. My friend has spent ten years trying every diet going and still looks the same. To me she has wasted that time, consumed with calorie counting, food, weight loss, its all she ever talks about. Focus instead on what you do have. People won't remember you were a size 8. Much better to be remembered for kindness, love and friendship.
Sharon, Salford, England

The world doesn't run on people's good looks. Its sad to see the big fuss.
Shaheer, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

I think we tend to forget that most celebrity mothers have the luxury a team of nannies and assistants to take care of the children while they exercise. Isn't it more important to bond with the child over the first year in particular and just focus on staying healthy? And yes, I am part of the 94%
Chirs Watts, Southend on Sea

This is hardly news is it now. The problem shouldn't be how to write articles reporting it but rather how to solve the problem and the answer to that lies partly with the media who put sales above any sense of care towards their customers and partly with the fact that these same women who feel so awful about stunning (and possibly computer enhanced) celebrity women are the same ones who keep buying the glossy mags/products that feature them so heavily. One day I will work out why women do this to themselves...
Paul De St Paer, UK

There's a natural reason why a woman's body changes during and after pregnancy. They are feeding two people, not just one. These celebrity mums are putting themselves and their babies at risk by slimming so much after giving birth. Also, why don't women understand that most men actually like something to cuddle, rather than getting poked by stick-thin limbs and bony bits. That extra layer new mums have makes then much more loveable.
Terry Harvey-Chadwick, Milton Keynes

Well it is certainly good to hear that our societal obsession with morphology continues to promote job-creating, wealth-generating unhappiness amongst us. I guess we are talking about the shape of things to come...
Aidan, London, England

I find is very sad to see the way society is becoming - we have become so inner-focused now that hardly anyone cares about anything anymore except themselves. Surely a woman who has just had a baby should be revelling in the miracle that is childbirth rather than selfishly obsessing about the way she looks. My message to all women out there (whether they have had a baby or not): Throw away those celeb magazines, stop watching those awful makeover programs and get out there and start living your life!
Nassy, Maidenhead, UK

There's no need to feel inadequate girls. It's easy to snap back into your old shape with nothing more than a little self-control, a sensible macrobiotic diet, a personal trainer, dedicated chef, 24 hour nanny to look after the baby, and a couple of million dollars of hair-do, make-up and clothes!
Lorraine, St Albans, UK

I am 20 weeks into my first pregnancy and already depressed at my shape. Always slightly pear shaped my flat tummy had been my saving grace but now it seems I am to lose this as well. However contrary to blaming celebrities for making me feel worse about my post-baby body (at least the one I anticipate ending up with!) I am trying to persuade myself that if they can do it, so can I - even if does take months not weeks and exercise not surgery.
Helen, London

I think that most of us new mothers would also quickly regain our former figures if we had the same nannies, cleaners, gardeners, personal trainers, exercise facilities and spare time that the celebrity probably mothers enjoy! Somehow, when you are trying to hold down a job, keep a house clean plus look after the new baby and its older offspring it is not so easy to look beautiful...
Sarah, Sheffield

Whilst in some ways I sympathise with these women who are so disgruntled, please correct me if I am wrong, but haven't women been giving birth to babies for thousands of years. It strikes me that women now want the impossible. If they fear the consequences why do they have babies in the first place?
Mike Simmons, Bristol UK

It's a natural reaction to want to lose the weight you've put on after childbirth, whether you see a celebrity mum looking good or not
Gemma, Peterborough, England
I don't think it is fair to blame celebrity mums for the feelings women have. Most women want to look their best whether they've had a baby or not and I think it's a natural reaction to want to lose the weight you've put on after childbirth, whether you see a celebrity mum looking good or not. It's also worth remembering that if we all had the money they have for nutritionists and personal trainers all mothers would look like them!
Gemma, Peterborough, England

I am always offended when I see these celebrity "yummy mummies" glowing with pride on the cover of magazines and pushing their own vanity on us lesser mortals by telling us how they "got back their figures and their lives" post-birth. It's as if someone, somewhere has forgotten that it is normal to put on weight when you have a baby and that, without the aid of a stream of personal trainers, nutritionists and probably plastic surgery, you won't easily get back to your pre-birth weight or figure. When we, and by that I mean ALL of society, start to have some respect for natural beauty, there will be a lot less pressure on women - and let's face it, new mums have plenty of pressure already without worrying about their weight.
Nichola Vincendeau, West Sussex, UK

An elective caesarean and a spot of lipo at the same time. It may be necessary for the performers in the celebrity freak show but normal women are best off staying healthy. Eat well, if you have a few pounds extra, don't worry about it (as long as it's within healthy limits). The weight will come off with breast feeding and all the extra running about anyway. Don't forget, the celebs pay people to do all that.
Sven, Colne, UK

The celebrities are at the top of their professions above millions of wannabees because they work incredibly hard, it doesn't happen by chance. Presumably they get their figures back because they are prepared to work equally hard to restore their figures. Certainly they have the benefit of childcare but that is not what reforms their bodies, it's hard work.

I have a colleague who had a baby and asked her doctor how to avoid stretch marks or flab. He advised her to walk 5 miles every day for her early pregnancy and then as soon as possible after birth. By the time she came back to work at 6 months, she was back to a size 10. She hadn't starved herself, joined a gym or had liposuction, she'd just been very disciplined and focussed about what she wanted. So every mum regardless of celebrity status or not, has the choice, but it isn't easy for anyone.
Kathy, UK

Why are celebrity mother's automatically "Supermums"? They have nannies and personal trainers, huge disposable incomes and the knowledge that the industry they work in will ostracize them if they do not conform to a particular body shape or size. They have to get back into shape if they want to work again. Most women have hang-ups about their bodies before they have children - but there is always some chance that they can rectify them. Once you have a child the stretch marks and baggy skin cannot be slimmed or exercised away and it is a difficult thing to deal with. It is not made any easier having images of emaciated women who have been under the knife paraded in front of you and being told that it was New Mums should look like and loathing yourself and your body when you don't come close.
Caroline, Milton Keynes, Bucks

I think we "normal" mothers should realise that sadly for a lot of these celebrity mums a baby is an accessory to be pulled out when it suits their image, not a lifestyle change. Not only this but they have nannies on hand to look after the baby whilst they (the mothers) consult their personal chefs, trainers and stylists on how to look good and get back to work asap. Remember that their faces/figures are usually the most important thing to them, and far from being the "supermums" mentioned in your article most of these women in fact hardly see their babies. Hardly what I'd call "super" - more like selfish.
Marianne Stronge, Cambridge, UK

Why does anyone care how some 'superstar' looks, whether it's after giving birth or at any other time? They are an irrelevance.
Annia, UK

Most of us don't start off looking like a celebrity, so how can we expect to look like one after pregnancy?
Clare, Solihull

Something else for the media to whinge about. These days pregnancy is pretty much a self inflicted condition. It certainly is not a mystery and I am sure most women know exactly what is involved, before, during and after the event. Knowing all this, most real women choose what is most important to them.
Reilly, Southampton, England

I much prefer new mothers to have saggy arms, legs, etc. Pert celebrity mums look like they couldn't have time to look after their children since they're too wrapped up in how they look. I think this pressure thing is a bit of a myth anyway. How many new mothers have time to catch up on celebrity gossip in between the constant pressures of child and husband rearing! That said, Catherine Zeta Jones is pretty yummy, but let's face it, she can afford to be.
Marc Kelly, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear

94% of the men questioned are maybe well-meaning but bad liars!
Clarissa, Southampton UK

Most 'celebrity' mums are underweight anyway
A Paton, North Yorks
We had a baby girl on December 2nd last year and my partner looks fantastic after all she has gone through. I find her much more attractive now because if it. Most 'celebrity' mums are underweight anyway. I wouldn't want my gorgeous fiancee looking as thin and unhealthy as them.
Alan Paton, North Yorks

I am 28 years old, happily married but I have no intention whatsoever to have a baby. I couldn't put up with horrible changes in my body. I am trying to convince my husband to consider fostering a child. And yes, it is all down to those yummy mummies.
Maria Joana Bachelier, London UK

As a doctor, I can clearly state that there is no medical reason why any woman should gain excessive body fat through having a baby, besides eating too much and not looking after yourself as well as you should when pregnant, not to mention using pregnancy as an excuse to forget that you are not actually eating for 2 people yourself. Yes, you will get some loose skin, but nothing that won't be fixed in a couple of months of going to the gym.

So, celebrities don't just stay in good shape after childbirth for no reason. They look after themselves during pregnancy, hence no need for much work after it. Probably because they need to do, whereas some women use pregnancy as a plain and simple excuse to let themselves go for 9 months. People just like moaning and are slow to realise that it's down to them, nobody else.
SH, Southampton, England

The reality of the situation is that a lot of these 'celebrity mums' have the kind of time and the money to spend that the rest of us do not. Secondly, they are in a business where you MUST look good to do well. If we had the resources they have at our disposal, we too would be able to achieve what they seem to achieve (seemingly) effortlessly
Anne, England

We like to blame or at least put some responsibilities on others for our predicaments
Laure, Woking, Surrey
It is ludicrous to say that celebrities 'put undue pressure on new mums'. Surely it is the celebrities' right to lose or not to lose weight after birth. We live in a society where we like to blame or at least put some responsibilities on others for our predicaments. At the end of the day, we all make choices and have to stop living our life comparing it to others.
Laure, Woking, Surrey

Celebrity Mums can afford personal trainers and hours in the salon to look that good and keep their bodies goddess like. Also they are able to pay any number of nannies to look after their babies while they jet around the world, promoting films and bad albums. Mean while back on Earth, real Mums Work.
Nick Thomas, Cardiff - Wales.

They can do it because they have the money to be able to dump the poor kid with a Nanny, while they spend all day with a personal trainer! Flat stomach or kids who don't know who their mother is - you decide.
Chris Chitty, Bourne, UK

A well know website (the BBC actually) recently claimed that adult obesity rates have almost quadrupled in the last 25 years and now 22% of Britons are obese and three-quarters are overweight. Surely for once, celebs are doing something useful, if they encourage us to avoid reaching for the lard a little...
Ian, London, UK


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