News24xx.com - Almost eight years ago, Pippa Middleton nearly stole the show at the wedding of the century. And when she was photographed recently out with her baby son, the bottom of hers was still attracting attention — but not for the same reasons, because her bottom appears a little . . . flat.
So, what causes it?
Hormones flood through the body when you’re pregnant. Obviously they’re necessary for growing a healthy baby and preparing the body for birth, but there can be side-effects.
During pregnancy you produce a hormone called relaxin, which helps prepare the uterus and cervix for giving birth, and is the main culprit for making the bottom sag.
Produced by the placenta and ovaries, it relaxes ligaments and muscles, but the hormone does not differentiate, and affects the whole body — including the buttocks, although the skin and soft tissues are most affected.
"Your buttocks, or glutes, are composed of three muscle groups. There is the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These determine your basic bottom shape."
They are big muscles, and changes will be immediately noticeable, particularly to a slim woman like Pippa, where the shape is not obscured by overlying fat.
This will not be the final assault on a woman’s rear: plummeting oestrogen levels as she approaches the menopause cause fat distribution to shift from the hips to the stomach, making the bottom appear flatter still.
Changes in fat
However slim you may be, hormone fluctuation in pregnancy may affect the quality and consistency of your fat stores.
‘During pregnancy you store vital fat reserves, which you need for birth and breast feeding,’ says Mr Spence-Jones.
‘This is called centripetal fat and is formed under the influence of the extra oestrogen produced by the placenta. It’s structurally different to that which is formed by fat cells, and stored around the hips, buttocks, breasts and abdomen.’
All healthy women need to gain weight — and fat — in pregnancy. "During pregnancy, fat will be exposed to extra oestrogen throughout the body as well as producing its own," says Mr Pacifico.
"This will potentially have an effect on the quality of the fat — meaning it is less firm. After oestrogen levels drop post-partum, the consistency of body fat will be softer than previously," says Mr Spence-Jones.
The age factor
We all know that age is a massive factor in how the body responds to pregnancy.
"The ageing causes laxity of muscle. As elasticity deteriorates, drooping skin means lack of support," says Mr Pacifico.
"Every decade we age more quickly, and pregnancy takes its toll. A 20-year-old may go through pregnancy with barely a change, but by your mid-30s, the body responds more," he adds.
Losing weight too quickly after giving birth is not advisable if you want to maintain skin and muscle tone.
"Slow is the best way so the skin can contract slowly back to how it was. If you reduce calorie intake too much and lose weight too quickly, it’s counter-productive. A very calorie-restricted diet will burn fat and water but then start to consume muscle too" says Mr Pacifico.
Back to fitness
A gentle exercise is a good idea. Studies have shown that hours spent sitting, resting your weight on your bottom, means that fat cells thrive.
And standing up literally takes the weight off them, as well as benefiting circulation and posture. Researchers also say if you sit down for longer, you are more likely to store fat in your bottom.
Feed your muscle
‘It’s impossible to control the bottom shape via diet and weight loss alone,’ says registered nutritionist Rob Hobson.
What you want to do is maintain muscle mass, improve skin tone and keep blood sugar levels stable so that you have enough energy.
He emphasises the importance of losing weight steadily rather than trying to drop it as swiftly as possible.
"There is a terrifying trend for women to go on faddish diets. But, keep your food with full of protein and fibre; oily fish, chicken breasts, nuts, seeds, wholegrain carbs and masses of vegetables, as well as three good meals a day."
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