Celebrities Who Shed Their Pregnancy Pounds Immediately Put Pressure on Ordinary Mums; MEDIA IMAGES MAKE MUMS CONSCIOUS OF THEIR WEIGHT
Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY
PREGNANT women say images of celebrity mothers who appear to "snap" back into shape after birth are putting increasing pressure on ordinary mothers to follow suit.
A survey today reveals six out of 10 mothers feel pressurised to lose weight by the celebrity culture. Such pressure comes at a time when maternal obesity rates are increasing.
Mothers have called for NHS-funded antenatal classes to address the imbalance between fact and fiction of weight management. But the Royal College of Midwives has warned overstretched midwives often don't have time to provide weight management and healthy eating advice.
Earlier this year, television presenter Denise van Outen was pictured looking toned and slim just two weeks after giving birth to her daughter Betsy.
Over the past few years, Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes and Angelina Jolie have also been photographed just weeks after giving birth, having lost all of their baby weight.
Sally Russell, a co-founder of Netmums.com, which carried out the survey, said: "Many women worry about their weight even when they are not pregnant.
"During pregnancy, with the big changes in body shape and weight, plus an increased interest in health generally, women overwhelmingly feel they wanted to have the chance to discuss these matters with a healthcare professional.
"At the moment though it seems that midwives just don't have the time and clearly investment and effort are very much needed to deal with this growing problem."
And Helen Rogers, secretary of the Royal College of Midwives' Board for Wales, said: "Women still see these images of celebrity mums as what they should be aspiring to - there's a real issue here about nutrition and keeping fit and healthy when body image is so poor."
The survey of more than 6,000 mothers by parenting website Netmums.com and the Royal College of Midwives highlighted the "intense" pressure on pregnant women and new mothers from media coverage of svelte celebrities to lose their post-pregnancy baby weight.
More than half said that seeing so many celebrities lose their post-baby weight quickly put pressure on them to lose weight.
When asked how women felt about their body and weight while they were pregnant, the comments included, "disgusting", "elephant-like" and "fat, ugly, big, embarrassing and felt down". An overwhelming 95% of women who took part in the survey, which is published today on the eve of the Royal College of Midwives' annual conference in Manchester, said they did not go to NHS-provided antenatal classes that addressed nutrition and weight management during their pregnancy.
And a similar number said they did not have the opportunity to discuss healthy eating and weight management issues with their midwife after birth.
The Heads of Midwifery said, in the Royal College of Midwives' Pay Review Body Evidence, that dealing with obesity contributed to the increased complexity of maternity cases, which is stretching the midwifery workforce.
Cathy Warwick, the college's general secretary, said: "There is a real need to address the issue of obesity, and this survey shows this is particularly important for women. …