But docs say there were probably other factors at play.

By Julia Malacoff
May 18, 2017

If there's one thing we know for sure about pregnancy and delivering a baby, it's that it's different for every woman. WWE wrestler Brie Bella recently gave birth to her daughter, Birdie, via C-section after 22 hours of labor. (Oof.) She's home and recovering now, but her twin sister Nikki (also of WWE fame) just gave an interview explaining what the birth was like.

"She tried to go natural, and it was like eight or 10 hours into it, [she] had to get an epidural and then in the end had to get a C-section," she told People. "Her abs were too tight! Go figure. Leave it to the WWE Superstar, abs too tight!" she added. (Related: How Much Exercise Should You Do While Pregnant?)

This isn't the first time we've heard of this. Last year, trainer Chontel Duncan also claimed her super-tight abs prevented her from having a natural delivery. So we had to go to the experts and find out: Is it really possible to be forced to get a C-section because you have a strong core?

Well, turns out you can breathe a sigh of relief because experts say the strength of your abs has pretty much nothing to do with needing a C-section."It is highly unlikely that this patient's abdominal muscles kept her from a natural birth," says Nicole E. Williams, M.D., FACOG, a gynecologic surgeon. "Abdominal muscles stretch along with the uterus as pregnancy progresses, so they don't hinder the baby's growth. In fact, having strong abdominals would probably help with pushing."

The other experts we checked with said the same thing. "A strong core helps women push the baby out vaginally," says Sherry Ross, M.D., ob-gyn and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide To Women's Intimate Health. Period. Although she does mention that having rock-hard abs can make the C-section surgery a bit easier if it turns out to be necessary. "When I perform a C-section on a woman with great abs it's often a surgeon's dream since there is very little fatty tissue," she says. If there's less to cut through, the whole process is easier and faster. (Trying to gain back core strength? Here are some ab exercises for new moms after C-sections.)

One thing that could have played a factor? "It could be that her pelvic floor muscles were very tight, which can prolong the second stage of labor," says Monique Swain, M.D., an ob-gyn at Henry Ford Health System. Still, that wouldn't necessarily prevent a vaginal birth, she says, and there would need to be other factors involved in order for a doctor to call for a C-section.

"There was some evidence in a preliminary study published in 2008 comparing athletes to non-athletes showing that athletes tended to have a longer second stage of labor," Swain explains. The study suggested that this longer labor could have been due to the athletes having more developed pelvic floor muscles, but the results of the study were far from conclusive since it was done using quantitative modeling (meaning there were no real live people studied).

In this case, looks like either Nikki was misinformed or perhaps just joking about the reasoning behind her sister's C-section, but there you have it. So go ahead and work on that six-pack as much as you want without fear.


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