There’s just no stopping Kareena Kapoor Khan — not even pregnancy and subsequently, motherhood. While most women chose to avoid the public eye when sporting a baby bump, Kareena Kapoor Khan was more socially active than ever, from walking the ramp to doing magazine shoots.
And just three days after her delivery, Kareena had a party at her home. Unlike her fellow female actresses (Kajol, Ashwarya Rai Bachchan and Rani Mukerji, who took a break from films), Bebo, who delivered in December, was to start shooting next month for Veere Di Wedding. But now the schedule has been pushed by another two months. But that hasn’t stopped her from hitting the gym.
Moreover, the new mother has taken up kickboxing to whip herself into shape. Is it advisable for a new mother to plunge back the humdrum of daily life, skipping a few months’ break? Does Bebo need to apply some brakes and just bask in motherhood full-time for some time? Is it healthy for mother and child?
Kareena has been applauded for the way she has handled pregnancy. Being an actress, there are new mothers who would try and follow in her footsetps. However, experts say that is a bad idea and how new mothers should ease their way into normal life post child-birth.
Homebound for 40 days
Traditionally, a 40-day break was stipulated by family elders. What is the reasoning behind this? Turns out, there is a scientific reason behind this. Dr Firuza R Parikh, Director, Department of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, says, “The reproductive system particularly the uterus takes 42 days to involute that is come back to its pre-pregnant state. During the postpartum period, the new mother continues to bleed. It was a wise and scientific decision to limit a woman’s activity and allow her to recuperate during this time.” Kareena might have round-the-clock nannies, not everyone can afford that lifestyle, which is why they shouldn’t follow her lifestyle.
Fear of infection
Gynaecologist Suman Bijlani affirms the rest period for multiple reasons. “During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes various changes, the uterus expanding is a just one example. Physiologically, it takes 40 days or around six weeks for the organs in the body to return to normalcy. This is known as the ‘Puerperium’. Also, during this time, new mothers aren’t really getting 100 per cent rest because she’s weak, breast-feeding, and not getting proper sleep,” she explains. She adds that the new mother’s and the baby’s immunity is low, so stepping out makes them prone to risk of catching infections, cold, flu, cough and viral infections. “In England, women do step out on the sixth or seventh day for essentials. But there there’s no pollution. Here, pollution levels are high and a woman post-delivery, doesn’t have much resistance. Chances of infection are high and may pass on to the child she is nursing. But yes, women need not be bedridden, can move about and can start mild exercises,” says gynaecologist Dr Rohini Parandekar, who was practising in London earlier.
Six weeks before socialising
How soon can a new mother step out of the house, and socialise, meet family and friends while she’s exclusively breastfeeding? As soon as her body and mind feels up to it, opines Dr Parikh, saying, “Time away from the baby is important so as to not neglect other important members of the family. Meeting friend and socialising is a way to de-stress. However, one should avoid late nights as sleep is very important during this time.” Bijlani says that after six weeks, a mother can step out of the house, socialise because by that time, basic vaccinations are done for the baby. Earlier, it was said that a child should be exclusively breastfed for first four months. Bijlani says breastfeeding is advised exclusively for first six months. After that, one can continue up to two years. Eating well, consuming a healthy diet, maintaining hygiene and some amount of exercising are precautions a breastfeeding mother needs to take.
The law provides three months’ maternity leave for pregnant/new mothers. Some working women resume work after that, some extend it for six months and some even more. Is a three-month break sufficient? How soon or late should a new mother resume work, ideally? Doctors say that depends on the nature of job a person is doing, “While someone with a desk job may return to work quickly, a job requiring interaction through different time zones may be more stressful and therefore, a woman may take longer to resume work. If a woman has the opportunity to be with her newborn child, she should use this time caring for and nurturing the baby. Older siblings can feel neglected at this time so time off from work would benefit the older children too,” Dr Parikh advises.
Speaking of Bebo not taking a break of six months after childbirth and resuming work, Dr Parandekar says, “Kareena’s lifestyle is different and regular working women may not have nannies to look after the baby and have to travel in public mode of transport. Also, the more time a mother spends with the baby, the closeness and bond increases but to each her own.”
“It’s really an indivdual choice when one wishes to resume work. Personally, from a mother’s perspective, six months is a good enough period, after which one can resume work. It’s not like they give up taking care of the baby once they begin working. It’s great to see many working mothers using breast pumps, co-ordinating with maid or family member to ensure the child gets breast milk at regular intervals,” reasons Bijlani.
Back in the gym
Is Kareena taking up kickboxing around 48 days after her delivery, too soon? When can a women begin exercising after child birth? “Many young women like Kareena who look after themselves are able to enjoy their pregnancy to the fullest. Women who are young and healthy can get into an exercise regimen as soon as they feel up to it. There is no contraindication to exercise provided, there is no medical reason not to. A woman who has undergone a Caesarean section may take longer to start exercising because of the healing of the abdomen,” informs Dr Parikh. An exercise regimen has to be tailored to one’s requirements. However, it is important to recuperate first and feel energetic enough to exercise. If the labour has been uneventful, one can try getting fit soon. If, however, the labour has been complicated with blood loss, blood pressure, diabetes or surgery, including a painful episiotomy scar (a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues), then it is best to go slow with the exercising part.
One can begin exercising usually after a week, in the case of normal or vaginal delivery. The trick is to listen to your body, your body will tell you whether you’re ready, says Bijlani. “As for Kareena taking up kickboxing around 48 days after her delivery, is not a big deal. She’s used to exercising and an active lifestyle from before. Most women don’t exercise regularly. That she didn’t take a break from her career, is an individual choice. She’s taking professional advice, she has help and if things are conducive to her, then why not? It depends on one’s self-belief and confidence, she has oodles of it. Hats off to her! Instead of seeing it as putting additional pressure on other women in a negative light, they see it positively that she is rocking at motherhood and career! It’s great to see such an example,” she says.