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Entries in Moms (11)

Wednesday
Oct172012

Fighting the 'Mom-Shell' Image: New Moms Struggle to Embrace Post-Baby Body

Beyonce performing in Atlantic City, a little less than 4 months after giving birth. Kevin Mazur/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- There is a new breed of mother on the playground.

Just weeks after giving birth, women dubbed "mom-shells," a hybrid of mommies and bombshells, are flaunting their post-baby bodies with skinny jeans and six-inch heels -- an image perpetuated by Hollywood. From Gwyneth Paltrow to Beyonce, celebrity moms have posed in glossy body-after-baby spreads.

Janice Min, the former editor of Us Weekly, says she helped create a celebrity culture of baby bumps with those spreads. Now, she says, those picture-perfect women have "infected our minds" so that "real" moms think they too have to look bodacious after childbirth.

"This crazy shift happened where suddenly it was cool to be pregnant and show off your body after you have the baby," she said. "That was a way for all these actresses to suddenly communicate to the world, 'I'm sexy, I'm still employable, and you want to be like me.'"

But not everyone can look like Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen shortly after childbirth.

"Gisele is a freak of nature," Min said. "These celebrities, a lot of them are just genetic aberrations."

Now there is a populist backlash. Alison Tate, a stay-at-home mom, had just given birth to her fourth child when she did something many women do every day: She resisted having a picture taken with her son at a birthday party because she said she knew she wouldn't like the way she looked.

"After I've had all my children, I felt like I had blown up like a balloon," she said. "It wasn't even a normal kind of being overweight. It's a deflated tire kind of being overweight. You can't fit into normal clothes right away. I felt dumpy, doubt-y, frustrated."

Tate had many reasons to be confident. She had an Ivy League education, she was happily married with four beautiful kids, but she still felt embarrassed by her body after giving birth. So she wrote a blog about the picture experience, and suddenly that moment became a movement.

Tate's website, "Mom Stays in the Picture," started a viral rallying cry and thousands of women submitted their own pictures, even if they didn't look their best.

"You're not looking at whether the mom is overweight, or did her hair, or did her makeup," Tate said. "All you see are moms and their kids, and all the love that are in those photos."

Tate said being a mom-shell is not what motherhood is all about.

"Our kids do not care what we look like," she said. "They only see their mother, and I just think that what women need to do is remember that. You don't ruin their pictures, you complete them."

Perhaps surprisingly, Janice Min can empathize. She too gave birth six months ago, to her third child, and said she also struggled when she saw herself in the mirror.

"It's sort of horrifying," she said. "Afterwards when the bump is gone, you're just kind of a fat lady, and it's really harsh."

Min's self-doubt helped inspire her to write a book called How to Look Hot in a Minivan, to reassure "real" moms that even starlets have a hard time living up to the Hollywood standard.

"We would have quotes from women saying, 'I cried, I work out so hard that I cry,' or, you know, 'I don't eat, I'm always hungry,' you know, crazy things that celebrities do," she said. "That at least puts a reality check on it. But Hollywood is fantasy and we have a hard time, at least when it comes to this area, of separating fantasy from reality because it's so personal for so many women."

In her book, Min shares what she learned about how the celebrities do it. Many famous women will wear a statement necklace, for instance, to draw the eye away from their figures.

"Motherhood and weight are the two most loaded issues for women ever," she said. "And so when you put those two together, it's like moths to the light, but it's also like kerosene to the fire, and women get really obsessed."

When Jessica Simpson battled with weight gain after having her daughter Maxwell, she turned to celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak, who first helped Simpson fit into her Daisy Dukes. In fact, getting her body back has turned into a sponsored event, with her every move watched by her 5.7 million Twitter followers.

But Pasternak said the key to losing the baby weight for any new mom is lots of walking, not a personal trainer. He said women should not feel bad about not bouncing back to their pre-baby figures.

"I've never weighed a client," he said. "I would be upset at someone for not taking care of their health, because as a mom you're setting an example for your child."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug202012

Celebrity 'Momshells' Pressured to Look Perfect After Giving Birth

Alo Ceballos/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Applauding new Hollywood mothers for slimming down in no time flat after shedding their baby weight has become one of the hottest trends splashed across celebrity magazines.

Call them "momshells" (mother-as-bombshell) for bouncing back after having a baby and jumping right back into their busy Hollywood careers looking svelte and stylish with no signs of baby weight.

Janice Min spearheaded many of those kinds of covers during her six-year stint as editor of Us Weekly, but now, after giving birth to her third child, she's pushing back against what she calls unhealthy pressure on everyday new moms.

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In a new article for The New York Times, the 42-year-old Min says, "…the notion that instantly stick-thin figures after birth are normal is untrue. Sometimes, in my sleep-deprived nights, I ponder our ideal of this near-emaciated, sexy and well-dressed Frankenmom we've created and wonder how to undo her."

Hillary Duff, 24, gave birth to her son, Luca, in March and recently faced a barrage of critical tweets for not losing her baby weight fast enough. Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai and Bryce Dallas Howard, who starred in The Help, also faced similar backlash.

"You see these magazines that are filled with celebrities, that within weeks, have bounced back and they're back to their pre-baby weight, and I think for most women it really puts a lot of pressure on them," CloudMom.com CEO Melissa Lawrence said.

Actress Kelly Preston, 49, said she refused to rush her weight loss after giving birth to son Benjamin in 2010.

"I actually took my time purposely because I really wanted to. You can do it much more quickly," Preston told Robin Roberts of Good Morning America in December. "I'm not into the three to four weeks. But, I did it over the course of eight months."

Katie Schunk is among a group of new moms who are fighting back against the blitz of magazine covers.

"If we could reach one woman to maybe not feel so bad about herself, I think that's exactly what we wanted to do," Schunk said.

Much like Min, Schunk says new moms shouldn't feel pressure to be thin, that being a great mother is what makes them "momshells."

Women need to have realistic goals when it comes to getting back into pre-baby shape, More magazine editor-in–chief, Lesley Jane Seymour, and women’s health expert, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, said Monday on GMA.

“Nobody can live to that standard,” Seymour said. “[Celebrities] have $40,000 exercising gurus. You’re not being paid for that. That is not your job. They have to get in shape in two weeks because they’ve got to go on the set. That is not the normal human being.”

Ashton said the pressure on women to bounce back immediately after giving birth is a type of “peer pressure,” but that it does “behoove a mother to get into as good of a shape as she can be.”

"As moms we know that being a mother and running a household is an athletic event into itself,” Ashton said. “Two seconds after she gives birth? No. ... Give yourself at least nine months to get back.”

Seymour, also a mother, said “it takes a year” to get your pre-baby body back and that’s the real message celebrity magazine cover stories should convey to readers.

“We should remember what it is. They’re celebrities,” Ashton echoed. “You don’t want to ‘keep up with the Joneses,’ you want to do the best you can for your body and your family.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun292012

Real Moms on the Realities of Losing the Baby Weight

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Earlier this month, a group of moms gave birth to a radical idea. Instead of focusing on the perhaps unrealistic pressures celebrities set to lose the baby weight, they decided to embrace their bodies to try to change the face of post-baby body expectations.

Heidi Klum hit the Victoria's Secret runway in next to nothing just six weeks after giving birth. Fellow angel, Alessandra Ambrosio, basically bared it all a mere 12 weeks after delivering her bundle of joy. And who could forget Kourtney Kardashian posing for covers of magazines rocking a red-hot bikini just three months after becoming mother to baby boy, Mason.

"I think it's great that they can get their body back, because they have the time," mother Katie Schunk said. "They're being paid to look good, but we're all working mommies. Jessica Alba was back to her pre-baby weight in like four weeks. At four weeks I was up every three hours and not able to function."

Marie Schweitzer agreed, "We love them all. We're all celebrity worshipers. But at the same time, that's them maybe two months after having a baby, and this," she said while pointing to herself up and down, "a year and four months after having a baby."

So instead of scrutinizing photos of themselves, the women of CTWorkingMoms.com decided to embrace their bodies and bare it all, showing the world what "real women's" bodies look like post-baby.

"We have this amazing moment of having a child, and then right after, most women hate their bodies," said Schunk.

Michelle Noehren, mother and creator of CTWorkingMoms.com, affirmed, "You do an amazing thing by carrying a human being in your bodies and giving birth. We should be proud of our bodies."

But what they didn't realize was that while they were fearlessly flaunting their figures for the camera, these moms were really on an even bigger mission with a message for all women.

"If we could reach one woman and get her to maybe not feel so bad about herself, I think that's exactly what we wanted to do," Schunk said.

Even the photographer of the shoot, Jean Molodetz of I View Photography, was tearing up watching the mothers frolick in the backyard.

"Watching them embrace the spirit of the message, it was great," Molodetz explained.

They thought they were just taking pictures for fun, but the reaction they felt when they started shooting wasn't anything any of them were expecting.

Another mother on the shoot, Mary Grace Peak, said, "It was such a release, because trying to balance work and family and home -- to actually run around someone's yard half naked was very liberating and fun. It was great to kind of forget that I was a mom just for a minute and just remember who I am as a woman."

Dena Fleno also posed for the camera. She explained, "It was the togetherness, and that's what we want to get across to women. Get together with your girlfriends and do something like this because you will be changed after you do it. It is so important."

Noehren's husband tells her every day that she's beautiful. But still, "it's hard to believe it yourself even though you hear it, and doing something like this really does help," she explained.

Schunk's husband thought it was an amazing idea for the women to do the shoot, also. "He's the first person to say that women are our own worst critic. Men don't judge us as much as we judge ourselves, and it was nice to see us embrace ourselves and feel beautiful for a while," she said.

Fleno has a daughter and hopes she'll learn from this experience to embrace and accept whatever body she has at any given moment. "She might have a different one than she had in high school when she's a mom. But that's who she is now and she's got to embrace it and accept it and just love yourself. And this helped. It really did. I've never felt more beautiful than I did that night. I have this joy inside now from that night that's never going to go away now," she explained.

These women really want all moms to feel good about themselves. They're encouraging everyone who has carried a child to head to CTWorkingMoms.com to upload your own fearless photos to the website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May112012

Happy Mother’s Day! (In 140 Characters?!)

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Next to seeing mom in person, phone calls remain the most popular way to wish her a happy Mother’s Day with an estimated 112.5 million calls made on that special day.

But as a new survey shows, Americans are using other electronic ways to contact mom, according to Wirefly, an online retailer of cell phones, smartphones and wireless plans.

About 53 percent of the 540 Americans, ages 18 and older who were surveyed say that it’s now okay to either send a text to mom or leave her a Facebook message.

Age dictates how you feel about electronic messages with seven in ten in the 18-to-24-year-old age group saying it’s cool to text mom with 60 percent giving their approval to sending her a Facebook message.

As people get older, they gradually feel less enthusiastic about this new way of communication on Mother’s Day. In fact, 64 percent of those 50 and older disapprove of texting mom while 65 percent nix Facebook as a method of telling her you care.

Interestingly, the rising popularity of Twitter doesn’t rate very high in the Wirefly survey with only 25 percent saying that sending a tweet to mom is appropriate. When it actually comes to tweeting mom, a mere one percent said they would do so on Sunday.

Gender-wise, women more than men in all cases believe it okay to text, tweet or send a Happy Mother’s Day message.

And what does her majesty think about all this? Sixty percent of mothers surveyed are perfectly fine with either sending or receiving a text or Facebook message on Mother’s Day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan122012

Stressed? Call Mom, Researchers Conclude

Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) -- Moms feed us, read to us, clap the loudest, cry the hardest, sit front row at recitals, write notes in our lunchboxes and promise that the hole in our hearts after a breakup won’t stay there forever.

So maybe it just makes sense that the sound of our moms’ voices triggers a physical hormonal response that comforts and de-stresses.

As Wired first reported, new research, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, found that conversations with Mom, over the phone or in person, were associated with a drop in cortisol, a steroid hormone that is released in response to stress. The mama chats also helped raise levels of oxytocin, a hormone linked to desire and gratification. But mom talks had no effect if they happened over text or instant messenger.

Researchers asked a group of 64 girls ages 7 through 12 to answer difficult math problems in front of three adults they didn’t know. The scientists were sure to exclude any girl who had extreme family strains or hardships.

After answering the questions, researchers split the girls into four groups. One group did not speak to their mothers at all, the next spoke on the phone, the third spoke in person and the last wrote to their moms on the computer through instant message. The girls who heard their moms’ voices, either in person or through the phone, experienced comforting hormone responses, but the girls who communicated with their moms through the computer showed no such changes.

Authors suggested that the voice’s familiar tone, cadence and intonation, rather than the specific words spoken, have calming effects on the body.

“In an age when emailing and texting and IMing is so popular, this shows that we’re missing the important component of the human voice that is able to convey comfort,” Leslie Seltzer, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin and lead author of the study, told ABC News. “The computer or text is just not the same as talking to someone.”

Take away, message: Call Mom. It’s good for your health.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Dec152011

Study: Moms Who Don't Work Are at a Greater Risk for Depression

Siri Stafford/Thinkstock(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Can part-time work increase the chances of full-time happiness for modern moms?  Yes, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

“In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favored part-time work over full-time or not working,” the study’s lead author, Cheryl Buehler, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said in a statement released by the APA.

Buehler and co-author Marion O’Brien, a colleague at UNC-Greensboro, analyzed interviews conducted with more than 1,300 moms.  Among their findings:

-- Part-time working moms and full-time working moms reported better health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms.

-- Part-time working moms were as involved in their child’s school as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than full-time working moms.

-- Part-time working moms provided their toddlers with more learning opportunities than both stay-at-home moms and full-time working moms.

With respect to the finding on depression, Buehler and O’Brien’s report stated that, theoretically, “a mother’s participation in employment provides her with support and resources that a mother who spends full time at home does not receive.” They said mothers of infants -- and pre-school age children in particular -- tended to be more isolated than women with school-age children and could experience higher levels of child-related stress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec122011

Part-Time Work for Moms Could Provide Best Work-Life Balance

Siri Stafford/Thinkstock(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Can part-time work increase the chances of full-time happiness for modern moms?  So suggests a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

“In all cases with significant differences in maternal well-being, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favored part-time work over full-time or not working,” the study’s lead author, Cheryl Buehler, a professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said in a statement released by the APA.

Buehler and co-author Marion O’Brien, a colleague at UNC-Greensboro, analyzed interviews conducted with more than 1,300 moms. Among their findings:

* Part-time working moms and full-time working moms reported better health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms.

* Part-time working moms were as involved in their child’s school as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than full-time working moms.

* Part-time working moms provided their toddlers with more learning opportunities than both stay-at-home moms and full-time working moms.

In their report on the study, UNC’s Buehler and O’Brien said employers could help more people — mothers and fathers alike -- take advantage of the health and family benefits of part-time work by making part-time jobs more attractive.

“Since part-time work seems to contribute to the strength and well-being of families, it would be beneficial to employers if they provide fringe benefits, at least proportionally, to part-time employees as well as offer them career ladders through training and promotion,” O’Brien said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct062011

Moms Prefer Manners over Grades

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new survey of moms reveals that good manners are still important to them, with 77 percent saying they prefer to have kids with good manners over good grades.

In America, where the U.S. Census Bureau says just 4 percent of today’s families fall into its definition of “traditional” by having a working father and a stay-at-home mom with kids under 18, a new study by Women at NBCU finds 49 percent of moms say “traditional” is the parenting style they aspire to have.

In another sign of the desire to embrace that traditional lifestyle, 66 percent of moms would prefer to be stay-at-home moms and 77 percent prefer to have kids with good manners over good grades.

Additional findings from the Women at NBCU survey:

  • 36 percent of dads would prefer to be a stay-at-home parent than a working parent.
  • 61 percent of dads say they split the household chores and childcare equally with their partners, but only 27 percent of moms feel the household work is evenly split.
  • Moms reported drug abuse and the “breakdown of the traditional family” as the top two most serious issues facing children today.
  • 31 percent of moms admit to lingering longer in the shower, while running errands and during a commute to get a bit more “alone time” during the day.

Women at NBCU is an initiative that connects to women via multiple platforms at NBCUnversial, including Oxygen, Style, Bravo and the Today show.  The survey involved 3,224 moms and 403 dads.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul082011

Drugging Moms to Slim Down Their Babies

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- How far will we go to prevent childhood obesity? U.K. researchers are bringing the battle against obesity to babies still in the womb.

In this novel approach, which will ultimately enlist 400 pregnant women in the U.K., obese pregnant women will be given the diabetes drug Metformin in hopes of reducing their infant's chance of developing heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes later in life.

The study, funded by the U.K. government, will be one of the most extensive tests to date of a concept known as fetal programming -- changing the environment of the womb to affect the health of the child.

Doctors already use "fetal programming" in less extreme ways by encouraging pregnant women to take prenatal supplements, make dietary changes, and avoid drug and alcohol use. This study promises to introduce a whole new level that might one day be commonplace: using medications that the mother otherwise wouldn't need in order to tweak the fetal environment.

Natural fetal programming "is a complex process that's evolved over millions of years to help a fetus adapt to the world it will...encounter after birth," says Dr. Alison Stuebe, an assistant professor of maternal fetal medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. "It is the way the mother 'tells' her baby what the world outside will be like."

Obese women tend to have higher blood sugar during pregnancy, and these high levels of blood sugar essentially "tell" the fetus that it needs to make a lot of insulin for itself. As a result, infants born to obese mothers tend to be heavier and produce more insulin. Research shows that these bigger babies grow up into children and adults who are at increased risk for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

By giving obese mothers-to-be the diabetes drug Metformin -- even though they do not have diabetes -- researchers will be lowering their glucose levels, hopefully mitigating the negative effects of maternal obesity.

It will take years to determine if this intervention pays off. In the short term, however, how big these infants are at birth will serve as a preliminary marker of how well the Metformin is adjusting fetal environment.

But the trial may not be as far a leap into the unknown as it seems, doctors point out:

"Metformin is not a new drug and has been given to pregnant women for years to control diabetes in pregnancy," says Dr. Alan Peaceman, chief of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

While diet and exercise would be the preferred intervention for obese mothers, "patients often find this difficult, especially during pregnancy. Thus, Metformin may provide an alternative option for these women with similar lifelong benefits to the fetus," adds Dr. Victoria Bae-Jump, assistant professor of gynecology oncology at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Doctors seem more concerned that this type of fetal programming intervention can only provide a partial answer to the problem of maternal obesity.

"Ultimately, it's unlikely that a single pill or nutrient is going to override all the effects of maternal obesity on infant development," says Stuebe. There are so many environmental factors in play -- poverty, abuse, stressful environments, she says, that "I'm skeptical of a magic pill to counteract all that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec202010

Study Finds Breastfed Children Outscored Formula-Fed Classmates

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SUBIACO, Western Australia) -- From flashcards to DVDs, the list of products touted as baby brain boosters is ever-growing.  But new research that suggests breastfeeding can significantly improve academic achievement later in life is offering food for thought on the impact of neonatal nutrition.

The benefits of breastfeeding for newborns and new moms alike are many.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breast milk is loaded with nutrients that help babies grow and antibodies that stave off infections.  Breastfeeding is also thought to protect against chronic diseases such as diabetes (type 1 and 2), obesity and asthma, and may even ward off certain cancers such as leukemia.

Breastfeeding moms also tend to recover from their deliveries faster, shed their pregnancy weight sooner and have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Because of the perks for moms and tots, the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life, and continuing to age two or beyond with appropriate complementary foods.

But can breastfeeding actually make babies smarter?

According to the results of an Australian study published in Pediatrics, children who were breastfed for six months or more outscored their formula-fed classmates in tests of reading, writing and math at age 10.  However, the benefits were gender-specific, with only boys achieving significantly higher test scores for reasons that remain unclear.

Several studies have previously linked breastfeeding to later intelligence.  But how breastfeeding confers its brainy benefits remains unclear.  Researchers suspect that components of breast milk that may be missing from formula, such as the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid arachidonic acid (ARA), are essential for optimal brain growth. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio