Can We Please Talk About Pregnancy “Abs”?
By now, you may have heard the news that the infamous model who had crazy ridiculous abs, even at nine months pregnant, has given birth.
And, of course, she didn't give birth to a teeny tiny baby that would make us all say, well, see! That's why she was able to look like that!”
No, no, no. She had to go ahead and give birth to an almost nine-pound baby.
Because, of course.
Now, if I sound a little envious, well goodness, of course I am. I definitely wish I was able to have such a great body both before, during, and after pregnancy. I also wish I could climb Mt. Everest and get a full eight hours of sleep every night. Some things just aren't realistic. I don't begrudge Ms. Stage one bit for her enviable body, nor do I wish to swap places with her at all in life. For one thing, she's a model, and for another, I'm happy with my own lot in life.
I actually know someone who genuinely looked like this IRL — she just didn't look pregnant at all — to the point where doctors were puzzled, but she gave birth to an 8-pound perfectly healthy baby boy, and as it turns out, it was genetics because her own mother was the same way. We know that all women and all bodies are different, and yet we still have the image of this “ideal, perfect” body, when the truth is that it just doesn't exist.
But the fact that this model has received so much attention from her pictures and the fact that some of the comments on her pictures say things like “What an inspiration honestly. Like I never thought it was possible to look like this and be pregnant. It always frustrated me thinking about all the effort it takes to get killer abs, only to have it all ruined by a pregnancy, but this woman has shown me the light. So beautiful!” that got me wondering: could this image be even more harmful to our already unhealthy obsession with body image as women? Could it actually lead to women thinking 1) that this is in any way realistic during pregnancy for most women or 2) that it should be our ultimate goal as mothers?
So I turned an expert. When I asked Erica Ziel, personal trainer, nutritionist, and creator of Knocked Up Fitness, if it's realistic for women to expect to maintain their six pack or look even remotely close to this woman, she said that not only is is not healthy for women to try to recreate that look, but that it could actually be harmful.
“It's not realistic for women to expect abs during their pregnancies,” Ziel explained. “That said, I also think it's not healthy for women to strive to keep their abs during pregnancy. Doing crunches or other ‘crunch-style' exercises could actually do more harm in the long run than good, as far as abs go, that is.
“Striving to keep those abs during pregnancy may not be healthy for the baby if mom is not eating enough in order to try to keep her physique, and she could also create diastasis recti (separation of the abdominals) by not allowing her muscles to stretch as her baby grows,” she continued. “There are always those exceptions out there that just have the genetics or body for having and maintaining those abs during pregnancy, but it's not the norm and not something pregnant women should strive for.”
What do you think? Do you think it's realistic for women to aim for abs during pregnancy?