New mums' waistline worries

Article date: 14 July 2004

New mums feel pressured into getting back into shape andcriticise celebrity mums who regain their figures within weeks asbad role models, a new study reveals today.

Nearly half of mothers questioned say that after giving birth,their main concern was to lose the weight they’d gainedduring pregnancy, according to the ‘Pregnancy Pressure’study from Norwich Union Healthcare.

The study also reveals how new mums feel societal pressure toshed the extra pounds once their baby had arrived - with more thana quarter (28%) admitting so. And more than four in five (85%)think that famous mums such as Liz Hurley, who make it look easy toregain their shape, are sending out the wrong message to women.

Commenting on the findings,consultant obstetrician Dr Yehudi Gordon says: "There are a lot ofpressures on women having a baby, these pressures are highlightedby the media, however the Norwich Union Healthcare study also showsthat women are concerned by many aspects including nausea anddepression as well as getting back in to shape.

"Celebrity mums have a vestedinterest in getting back to shape because their public image is allimportant. But what new mothers must realise is that thesecelebrities have taken time off to spend each day actively pursuingthe result they want with the help of a team of experts fromnannies to personal trainers and dieticians. Most real women on theother hand can’t afford to take out such time or the luxuryof a team of helpers."

The study amongst 500pregnant women and new mums, also reveals that more than a quarter(27%) say they’d feel like a failure if they weren’table to give birth naturally.

And, thanks partly to thenumber of high-profile mothers such as Victoria Beckham who arehaving ‘scheduled births’, half of those questionedthink that women should have the right to decide to have anelective caesarean.

But nearly three in five(58%) think those women who choose to have a caesarean withoutmedical reason to do so, should have to pay for theprocedure.

The Norwich UnionHealthcare Pregnancy Pressure study also found:

  • ‘Big Mutha’ Davina McCall was voted the mostadmired celebrity mother (30%), but a fifth (21%) of those polledaren’t impressed by any celebrity mothers
  • Weight gain preoccupies women throughout their pregnancy– while nearly a quarter (22%) of new mums say the bestthing about being pregnant was that they could eat what theyliked, 13% say the worst thing about it was feeling fat.
  • 21% fear they’ll never regain their pre-birth shape nowthey’ve had a baby
  • A fifth of pregnant women say they have no faith in hospitalservices when it comes to the birth of their baby
  • Pain prevention (62%) and fitting the birth into a busyschedule (35%) are cited as the main reasons more women are havingelective caesareans – 12% say it’s because peoplethink it helps with quicker weight loss post birth

Norwich Union Healthcare has produced a free Pregnancy Pressureguide, to help women who are either trying to get pregnant, arepregnant or are new mothers and aims to be a reference pointoffering advice and information directing them to the most helpfulresources, websites and organisations.

Dr Doug Wright, clinical development manager at Norwich UnionHealthcare, said: "Women face all sorts of pressures both duringtheir pregnancy and after the birth of their child. We hope ourPregnancy Pressure guide will provide another avenue of support, aswell as being a useful directory, for them during this time."

For a copy of our Pregnancy Pressure guide please call NorwichUnion Healthcare on 02380 354 728 or e-mail:

Pregnant women can also access the health insurers onlinePersonal Health Manager service at,that includes comprehensive health and medical information. Itincludes an interactive symptoms assessor which tells women if theyneed to see their GP or can use home remedies, as well as a healthplanner for personal health recommendations and a medicalencyclopaedia. /mfs

The company also provides a 24 hour GP Helpline for itscustomers, which works alongside the online service, meaning thatwomen who have had an assessment can follow it up without having togo through all the symptoms again.*


Media contacts:
Jo Misson or CharlotteRuddlesdin, QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424.

Norwich Union Press Office contacts:
James Evans 01904 452791 Out of hours 07790 487105
Lorna Wiltshire 01904 723236 Out of hours 07788 471849
Louise Soulsby 01904 452617 Out of hours 07810 057362
David Gwyer 01904 452828 Out of hours 07800 699508
Rob Pell 01904 452659 Out of hours 07968 934091

Notes to editors:

* Non customers are eligible for one month’s free trial ofthe Personal Health Manager but the 24 hour GP helpline and stresshelpline is not part of this trial.

About the research

  • Consumer research was by commissioned by Norwich Union, andundertaken by Opinion Leader Research amongst 500 pregnant womenand new mums during May 2004.

About Norwich Union Healthcare

  • Norwich Union Healthcare was founded in 1990 as the healthcarearm of Norwich Union and now provides a range of income protectionand private medical insurance products that cover over 750,000lives. It is one of the largest providers of income protection andprivate medical insurance in the UK.
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is a member of the General InsuranceStandards Council, the Association of British Insurers and theFinancial Ombudsman Service.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva’s internet press centre

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