updated 8 Aug 2013, 18:55
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Celeb mums on post-pregnancy weight loss
by Joanne Soh

First, it was the "Great Kate Wait".

After the world impatiently counted down to the royal baby's arrival last week, another "wait" is swiftly upon us - this time, the "Great Kate Weight Loss".

The British edition of OK! magazine got in hot water last week, sparking public backlash for running a cover story about Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton's post-baby weight loss regime on the day she left the hospital with newborn George Alexander Louis. She sported a prominent "mummy tummy" under her blue Jenny Packham polka-dot dress.

The celebrity news tabloid promised details of a "Duchess diet and shape-up plan", and quoted Middleton's personal trainer as saying "she's super-fit - her stomach will shrink straight back".

While this may sound extreme and put unnecessary stress on mothers to lose weight soon after birth, the pressure of looking good is part of the fame game.

"Celebrities are pressured to stay slim since they are in the public eye. They are scrutinised and criticised for their looks all the time," local celebrity blogger Xiaxue told The New Paper.

The new mum would know, considering she has often been criticised for her appearance, even when she was pregnant.

The 28-year-old, whose real name is Wendy Cheng, gave birth to her first child, son Dashiel, by caesarean section, in March.

"Only people who don't have children will make a ridiculous statement that losing weight should be a priority for new mums, particularly first-time mums," she added, referring to OK! magazine's story.

"The first few weeks are extremely tough. You stress about milk flow and if the baby's latching on.

You also have to tackle post-natal blues, find a routine for the baby's day and get used to no more than two hours of sleep at a stretch. All the while, you are in residual pain from childbirth.

"The last thing we need is to stress about our waistline."

Australian-Chinese actress-host Jaymee Ong agreed: "The Duchess emerged one day after giving birth, so that in itself is amazing.

I think she is so beautiful and that's what a woman looks like 24 hours later.

How dare anyone comment on her figure?

"She looked stunning and radiant, and there is no reason a woman should feel the need to hide anything."

But Ong, 33, who has a three-year-old daughter, Juliet, admitted that she did feel the pressure to get back into shape.

Said the Singapore-based Beam Artistes artist: "I was back filming (entertainment news variety show) eBuzz seven weeks after delivery, so I needed to look somewhat slimmer.

"There is so much pressure on women in general to look a certain way. The last thing you need to worry about after having a baby is weight loss. Women need to do everything in their own time, when they're ready."

For Yeo Yann Yann, 36, the star of the Canneswinning local movie Ilo Ilo, getting back into shape after her caesarean section was on her mind only because she was "way overweight during pregnancy".

The Malaysian actress, who has an 11-monthold girl, Song Wen, had piled on 30kg and tipped the scales at an unhealthy 78kg.

Her unplanned pregnancy almost cost her the lead female role in Ilo Ilo, but director Anthony Chen re-wrote the script so that Yeo's character was pregnant.

She said: "Most people will want to get back their figure straight after delivery, and so maybe OK! magazine assumed Kate wanted that too."

Fortunately for these three personalities, losing the baby weight came naturally and all credited breastfeeding as the secret.

Losing weight

Said Xiaxue, who went from 38kg to 51kg during her pregnancy: "I lost 7kg within a week without doing anything in particular.

I think it was a combination of breastfeeding, lack of sleep and my mum's healthy cooking.

"I express as much milk as possible. My son can't finish all the milk, but I see it as some sort of liposuction... I'm expressing fats."

Xiaxue added that she has since lost about 11kg and is happy with her current weight of 41kg.

While she is in no hurry to get back her pre-pregnancy figure, it helps that she has an aesthetics doctor to assist her. Dr Georgia Lee has been sponsoring Xiaxue's weekly one-hour body firming treatments for over two months now.

Yeo, who stuck to a low-carbohydrate diet, also had extra help as she is the ambassador of slimming centre Marie France Bodyline Malaysia.

"This is the only body you are going to have for your whole lifetime," said Yeo. "I have to take care of it so I can take care of my little one."

While a good body contouring treatment is recommended, exercise and diet are the healthiest way, according to Dr Karen Soh, medical director of aesthetics clinic Prive Clinic.

"A good gauge would be approximately to exercise about 300 minutes per week.

"You can start by taking it slow and walking on the treadmill about 40 minutes daily. Slowly build it up to one hour and then do weight training and other cardio exercises," said Dr Soh, 40, who is a mother of four.

"A new mother's body may change shape after pregnancy as it tunes itself back to your pre-pregnancy state. Your hips and uterus will shrink back after a few months. Hence, it's better to take one step at a time and always consult the doctor before you embark on any weight-loss programme."

Ong, an exercise lover, shed about 15kg of pregnancy weight.

Said the face of yoga centre True Yoga: "I stayed active right up until two weeks away from delivery and I absolutely believe that helped with getting back into shape faster.

"I think the more healthy and fit you are during your pregnancy, the easier your body recovers afterwards."

She added: "I did have to take it slow as I had a c-section delivery, so it was just walking and light stretching at first before I slowly worked myself back to my regular routine.

"You really just need to listen to your body, and most importantly, your doctor."

At 51kg, Ong is now lighter than she was before having Juliet, due to her "running around after a toddler as well as working and working out".

And, added Xiaxue, at the end of the day, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

"I don't think having a tummy is anything to flaunt, but if a woman's priority is her kid and not her body image, that should be her prerogative.

"At the same time, vain mums who try hard to return to pre-pregnancy looks should not be judged as a bad mum either," she said.

"It is all about a balance. As long as baby is well taken care of and mummy is healthy both mentally and physically, then everything is good."

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