Footage of a pregnant mom appearing to deflate her baby bump has left the internet baffled.
In a now-viral TikTok video, Angela, who requested that her last name be withheld to protect her family’s privacy, is shown pressing on her belly button. A hissing sound plays and then her stomach slowly begins to flatten out. At the time, she was 40 weeks pregnant.
Angela, 20, said she got the idea after watching others try the trick on social media. The trend appears to have kicked off in 2020, when a woman named Megan Call shared a clip titled "The ultimate baby bump challenge," in which her husband pulled a fake plug from her tummy.
“I wanted to try it, too, I have really strong core muscles so it was easy,” Angela told TODAY Parents. “It didn’t hurt or anything.”
The mother of three in Colorado said her son Finley was born healthy on June 6.
“Some people were worried I was hurting him,” she said. “I got a lot of comments like, ‘Is that safe?’”
Dr. Christine Greves, an OB-GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, would advise her patients to avoid the TikTok trend.
“There’s nothing about this in medical literature — there aren’t any studies that say it’s safe — and I don’t see a benefit in stretching your abdomen,” Greves told TODAY.
She did note that the unborn child is protected by amniotic fluid inside the uterus.
In 2017, videos began popping up of pregnant women practicing the Bloom Method. The exercise, which was created by Brooke Cates, involves expanding and contracting abdominal muscles through diaphragmatic breathing.
According to Cates, the technique — it's called the "belly bump" — prevents diastasis recti, and aids in both the prevention and healing of pelvic floor injuries including incontinence and prolapse.
"When done incorrectly it can increase core and pelvic floor dysfunction versus helping it," Cates told TODAY. Cates noted that Angela is "incorrectly performing the move."
"If you look closely, you will notice that as her belly gets smaller, her shoulders lift. This tells us that she is inhaling and sucking in her belly versus exhaling and properly engaging the pelvic floor and deep core muscles simultaneously to properly strengthen the inner core unit," Cates said.
"It is important to mention that even when done incorrectly, there is zero harm done to the baby and that all injury risk increase would be directed at the mothers core and pelvic floor," Cates added.
Greves stresses the importance of talking to your doctor before attempting new exercises while pregnant — especially if there’s no proven benefit.
“You're better off focusing on Kegel exercises,” she said. “We know they work.”