Recent attention has been given to celebrity moms who have lost weight quickly after giving birth. Giselle Bundchen recently posed in Vogue magazine and was on the catwalk three weeks after her son was born. Bethenny Frankl of “The Real Housewives of New York City” reportedly lost a total of 30 pounds in the three weeks after giving birth to her daughter. Are these celebrity moms setting a good example for other moms out there or could their drastic weight loss be damaging to their own health and the health of others?
Most doctors recommend that weight loss after having a child be limited to a few pounds a week. Losing more than that can jeopardize the health of the mother, as well as the health of their baby if they are breastfeeding. Women’s bodies go through a lot during the process of pregnancy and delivery and to drastically lose weight at a time when the body should be recovering is considered unwise. That is not to say that mothers should not attempt to lose baby weight if they so chose, but the methods for going about the weight loss are just about as important as the weight loss itself.
It is important that women have healthy role models for post-baby recovery. Often having children can trigger strong emotional reactions in women. The influx of hormones, lack of sleep and changing body can make post baby recovery quite challenging. If a female has a history of depression she is at an increased risk of experiencing depression post partum. In addition, if she has a history of an eating disorder, she may be at an increased risk of engaging in these behaviors again post delivery. Celebrity moms with drastic weight loss can be potential triggers for depression and disordered eating in many women.
How the media (and the celebrities themselves) talk about post baby weight loss can influence what kind of impact they have on mothers. When the media portrays drastic weight loss with a sense of astonishment and congratulations it sends the wrong message. This is especially true when they do not reveal the full picture. Rarely do celebrity moms disclose the help they receive from staff hired to help them achieve their weight loss goal. Many celebrity moms have nannies to help care for the child, personal chefs and personal trainers. They may also forego breastfeeding, or supplement with formula so they have more time to focus on their post baby body. Adding to the negative messages are the celebrities themselves who may down play the difficulty of the weight loss. They may paint a picture of a life they want others to believe rather than the life they really live. Consider some of the claims Giselle and Bethenny have made about their pregnancy and post partum experience. Giselle reportedly had a pain-free birth and was up and cooking a day after giving birth. Bethenny minimized her difficulty in losing the baby weight and stated that perhaps women who struggle with losing post-baby weight are having a hard time because they “go off the rails and go to McDonalds or Taco Bell.”
Everyone has the right to chose what they do with their own body, including how they lose weight after having a baby. My hope is that celebrity moms will be more authentic in showing what it’s really like to give birth, have a child and lose weight. My hope is that they will be honest about who helps them achieve these goals and what their experience is really like. If they are to be a healthy role model to other mothers then it is important that they chose to put their own health and the health of their child before vanity and weight loss.