Last month, lingerie and fitness model Sarah Stage posted an Instagram photo of herself in a red bikini at nine months pregnant.
Her tummy had the slightest bulge, like she’d just enjoyed a big pasta lunch.
Last week, one month after giving birth to her second child by C-section, she posted another photo of herself in her white Calvin Klein bra and panties. She stood sideways to the camera to show her taut, tiny tummy.
“The combination of breastfeeding and following my nutrition guide from my website has gotten me to my pre baby weight, however we all have our own personal fitness goals and mine is to build more muscle,” she wrote. “How long did you wait until you started working out after baby?”
The 33-year-old social media star has drawn fire during her pregnancy for posting photos of her no-belly pregnancy, made possible by the workout regimen she continued to follow. That’s how she earned her nickname, “six-pack mom.”
Stage and other pregnant celebrities who have become part of the no-bump trend continue to raise concerns among fans and physicians who worry that images of pregnant celebrities who don’t look pregnant set up unrealistic expectations for ordinary mothers-to-be.
Some doctors have criticized the media for continuing to showcase celebrity moms and their tiny bumps, seemingly glorifying the look.
Gaining weight during pregnancy is natural and normal, doctors say, and dieting during pregnancy can put women at risk for premature delivery and babies with low birth weights.
Celebrities feel different pressures about their bodies and the way they look from women outside the spotlight, so it’s unrealistic for other women to emulate them, British physician Tatiana Lapa told The Daily Mail.
“There are lots of benefits to keeping the baby bump from view,” Lapa said. “It enables these celebs to continue work such as filming and photo shoots.
“A seemingly unchanging physique can also help minimize the scrutiny of the media. Also, avoiding excess weight gain during pregnancy means they have less to lose after the baby is born.”
Lapa said she encourages all women “to focus on health and fitness rather than absolute measures of weight,” she said. “The fact is, you’re likely to be eating more, exercising less and retaining more water. The scales are probably going to be showing an increase and that is totally normal and healthy.”
Parent Herald, a parenting publication, took notice of the growing no-bump trend last year.
“Keeping a slim figure while pregnant is achievable. What mothers must keep in mind, however, is that for this to happen, there should still be an effort to eat healthy for the sake of the baby,” the magazine warned.
“It’s the same principle for when doctors advise moms not to overeat and gain too much weight during the pregnancy. The bottom line is a healthy weight gain gives pregnant moms an easier time during the birth as well as recovering after birth.”
British model Emma McVey has been slammed in recent weeks by people criticizing her tiny baby bump. She is due in January with her first child.
Last month she posted a photo of herself in a bikini to mark her sixth month.
According to The Mirror, she was flooded with nasty comments from people who said the picture was “depressing” and “wrong in so many ways.”
“How is she 6 months pregnant I look like that after thinking about bread,” joked one commenter.
Another wrote: “How on earth is there a baby in there? My stomach’s 10x this size and I’m not pregnant.”
Stage hit back at the people who criticized her for working out late into her pregnancy.
“As I’m nearing #8months I’ve wanted to share what’s been on my mind. Since I’ve announced my second pregnancy, I’ve had certain ‘Instagram medical experts’ tell me what I should and shouldn’t do,” she wrote in the caption of a workout video she posted.
“And while I find some of the comments hilarious, I choose to only listen to my OBGYN and of course I also listen to MY body. If something feels off, I don’t do it! I always do what’s best for my growing baby and put him first!”
Stage kept up her workouts — at a lower intensity — throughout her pregnancy.
“It’s a proven medical fact that continuing exercising while pregnant has many health benefits for you and baby,” Stage wrote. “There are also some people who assume that since I am exercising while pregnant, that I’m obsessed with how I ‘look’ but in fact I’m obsessed with maintaining a healthy lifestyle that will give my baby and myself the best possible quality of life.”
Exercising during pregnancy is entirely safe, Joanne Stone, the director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System, told People. The most important thing is for moms-to-be to do what’s comfortable, she said.
“It all depends on how you feel, really,” Stone told People. “There are studies that show that people who exercise have fewer pregnancy-related symptoms, so if you still feel up to it then I feel like it’s great. People who exercise feel much better than people who don’t exercise.”
“I think it’s about comfort, what feels good.”