There was a time when protruding bellies were embraced as a part of the magic of birth. Today, this pregnant woman only eats 20 bananas a day She says, “I’ll let the haters slip on my trail of banana skins.” That sounds unpleasant, but also necessary if it’s the cost of hating on her. She isn’t the only pregnant lady who aims to stay skinny. There is a Spanx for pregnant bellies, which is now being hailed as a pregnancy “must have.”
Here are some things I would assume are pregnancy must-haves: a body pillow, TUMS, Sensodyne toothpaste, vitamins, good medical care, and comfortable shoes. So on the list of must-haves, Spanx would either be last or would inaugurate the “must avoid” list. I say this not only because “Mama Spanx” — as they’re called — make it look like there’s an alien emerging from a lady’s crotch, but also because studies have shown that shaping underwear on pregnant women can negatively affect both the fetus and the mother’s wellbeing.
The fetus argument is a bit of a stretch, but still viable. Doctors affirm that babies are so safely ensconced in the womb that pressure from shaping underwear is largely inconsequential, but experts at the National Childbirth Trust — UK’s largest parenting charity — are a bit more hesitant. Policy adviser Elizabeth Duff told The Daily Mail, “It is important not to restrict blood flow anywhere in the body during pregnancy, as the growing baby needs the oxygen that is supplied through the increased blood volume in expectant women.”
While the science may be a bit tenuous for shapewear’s negative effects on babies, it’s much stronger for the negative effects on mothers. For one, as all women who have ever worn Spanx know, you sometimes can’t distinguish whether you need to pee or the Spanx is just doing its job. Unfortunately for pregnant-slim-seekers, a garment that restricts a woman’s understanding of her body is bad. It could lead to urinary tract infections and other unappealing things no one wants to deal with when pregnant. Second, and more insidious, is the issue of “muscle wastage.” According to a London-based physiotherapist Sammy Margo also told The Mail, pregnant women’s muscle tissue will weaken if they wear Mama Spanx every day of their pregnancy, all the while relying on the Spanx for muscle control in their nether-regions. Then, once the baby is born and the Spanx are off, there’s a much greater chance that the women, with their lower muscle control, will hurt themselves while lifting their new bundle of joy and weight.
Pregnancy is natural and beautiful, sure, but the majority of pregnant women do not resemble the 20-bananas-diet-lady. With or without Spanx, pregnant bellies will always look pregnant because there is a baby living inside. Our cultural obsession with “the baby bump” has to stop. Poring over pictures of naked bellied celebrities on magazines is weird at best and gross at worst. Meanwhile, sales of Mama Spanx are soaring. This might be an uphill battle. That’s right, hill — the same general shape a pregnant belly should be. Not an odd, oversized acorn.
Image via Veer and Spanx