Celebrity Post-Baby Weight Loss Is Setting Dangerous Standards

pregnancy weightOccasionally, celebrities like Amy Adams refuse to jump on the mommyrexia bandwagon, but increasingly, celebs like Miranda Kerr and Victoria Beckham are setting a scary standard of speedy post-baby weight loss. (Underscored yesterday by Jessica Simpson‘s $3 million deal with Weight Watchers). These women are lauded for returning to work and looking great within weeks of giving birth, but what they (and the media) are failing to address are the health risks that their drastic body alternations impose on them and their babies. Drastic post-baby weight loss is unhealthy for the mother and for her baby—especially if she’s breast feeding.

Caloric restriction and over-exercise for rapid weight loss is harmful to the health of mothers and their babies. We spoke to Lora A. Sporny, Ed.D., R.D., a registered dietitian and doctor of nutrition and education at the Program in Nutrition at Columbia University’s Teachers College, who says:

“If not eating sufficient calories and nutrient-rich foods, a pregnant woman will rely more heavily on her fat stores and lean tissues including her skeleton for the needed nutrients and energy. Since environmental toxins such as PCBs, dioxin and lead are stored within fat and bone tissue, more of these will be mobilized with the nutrients and enter her breast milk.”

These contaminants cause neurological damage and antagonize brain development. Therefore, if a women is not providing her body with enough energy, she places her body at risk for malnourishment and her baby at risk for ingesting toxins.

Weight loss after pregnancy should be gradual and, for many women, it occurs naturally as a result of breastfeeding and low to moderate physical activity. A breastfeeding mother burns 20 calories per ounce of breast milk she produces. That means if she’s nursing 34 ounces of milk per day at 85% efficiency for caloric expenditure, she’s expending 800 calories just to feed her baby. Her body is already mobilizing fat stores (about 250 calories worth) per day, so a breastfeeding mother will naturally lose her pregnancy weight gradually. Healthy weight loss would be about half a pound per week for women who gained a normal amount of weight during pregnancy (25-35 pounds).

I’m not discouraging exercise post pregnancy—low to moderate physical activity is encouraged for women after childbirth—however, adequate nutrition to sustain energy needed for the baby and for the mother is essential. Instead of restricting calories, consuming a balanced diet from all food groups (and adequate caloric intake) will not only keep the mother more satisfied, but it will help produce nutritionally sound breast milk—benefiting all parties involved; mother and child.

Moral of the story? Don’t jump on the mommyrexia train. If your beautiful body just experienced the miracle of childbirth, it’s adapting and changing to its new environment by releasing hormones, mobilizing energy, and producing milk to sustain the life of your baby and help him or her to mature and grow in a healthy way. Love and celebrate the changes your body has made to create life, instead of aspiring to yet another dangerous celebrity trend.

(Photo: Bebesvictoria)

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    • Aili

      If I could afford a home gym that rivaled a health club and had a personal trainer visit me four days a week as my workout buddy, I’d have a rockin’ hot body too. Oh, forgot to mention the in-house nutritionist/chef preparing all my meals and slapping my hand when I get near the fridge.

    • Zorbs

      I have no personal chef, trainer, or home gym…but I could wear a bikini if I wanted to 3 weeks post-baby. I posed for an internationl magazine (as a volunteer, not paid) 2 months post baby.

      You can get your pre-baby body back..if you’re willing to do the usual stuff like eat healthy food and exercise regularly.

    • Brown eyed girl

      Love your closing paragraph (so very true). Here’s a link to some helpful easy pregnancy exercises that I found interesting:)

    • Avodah

      I don’t see how the pressure about weight is more severe and/or dangerous than other pressure regarding weight.

      I guess being really fat is totally a-ok if you are with child.

    • Nutritionist Dietitian

      Before to loss the weight the advice of the Nutritionist Dietitian is must.

    • Joan

      While I agree with the general point of this article, I just want to point out that some women do just lose the baby weight fast and easily without really trying. I lost it all really fast with both my babies, and since I’m naturally thin, I got a lot of hurtful, snide comments about how my fast weight-loss was unhealthy, unnatural, unmotherly, would hinder my breastfeeding efforts, etc. The fact was, I just naturally burn a TON of calories breastfeeding and that’s why I lost the weight so rapidly — honestly, I was eating five huge meals a day, and with the first baby (back when I still had time to sit in Starbucks during stroller naps) I would also eat a big chocolatey treat from starbucks almost EVERY DAY. I was eating enormous amounts…more than my 200-pound husband…and I wasn’t doing any formal exercise, other than walking every day with the baby in the stroller, so clearly I couldn’t have kept the weight on if I tried. So those comments really hurt me, and there was nothing I could do to convince the commenters that I wasn’t dieting. I eventually just had to get a thicker skin and learn to ignore them. My point is, don’t be so quick to throw the “mommyrexia” label on people without all the facts.

    • Courtney

      your article doesn’t take into account multiple pregnancies or ones that are medically complicated and anybody with a sensable head on their shoulders knows you have to stop nursing before you start a diet like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. nor do all celebs have personal chefs a nutristionist maybe particularly if they were a gestational diabetic like Angelina Jolie & Mariah Carey were when they had their twins. nor is losing 30lbs of actual pregnancy weight in 3mths drastic
      Mariah for example while pregnant with her twins Moroccan & Monroe gained 82lbs 40 of which were water from swelling due to serious complications and 42 were normal weight about 13lbs of which was the twins themselves at birth @ 35 weeks due to toximia and some other life threatenning complications

    • Tom