Congratulations are in order! You have just delivered a baby and the excitement is all around. But, you are simply stressed out.
Join the club!
With a toddler to care for, taking care of guests, a house to clean, phone calls and endless chores, it can seem almost impossible to find time in your day to just sit back and relax!
Meet Aditi Govitrikar, doctor and celebrity, who delivered a baby boy, a few months ago, and manages either side of the spectrum with ease and poise.
Mrs World 2001, actress, wife, and mother of two, Govitrikar is the eldest of three children, and comes from a very orthodox Brahmin family. She is married to renowned surgeon, Dr Muzaffal Lakdawala, and has settled down well. She finds true sweetness in her motherhood.
Not many people know that Govitrikar is a MBBS who turned to modelling.
Deal with stress
Govitrikar says that hormonal changes aren’t the only explanation for stressed-out new mothers. She acknowledges that identifying symptoms and dealing with them are crucial.
As for her new-found mom-again life, she says, “Stress for new mothers shows up in two forms. One is called ‘Baby Blues,’ which a vast majority of women experience with some form of moodiness. They usually occur within the first week after birth and may last for two to three weeks. The symptoms, which are quite normal, soon go by. These include tiredness, irritability, sadness and even anxiety.”
Govitrikar says that if problems intensify it can show signs of post-delivery depression, the other form. Symptoms include hopelessness, fatigue and worry. “A sufferer may also experience drastic changes in appetite too, aside from excessive preoccupation with the child’s health and a general ‘air’ of feeling low.”
While research suggests that hormonal changes may contribute to the onset of post-delivery problems, no definitive hormonal cause as such has been identified, Govitrikar points out. Factors that can help in allaying the problem include family and social support. “Prepare well in advance, while you are expecting. Get all the help you need. Call your mother over to assist, and do not shy away from revealing what you may be going through to your family, or your doctor.”
Know your facts
To be well-informed about one’s mind and body is important, “During pregnancy and trimesters, prepare yourself with facts. Well, just after you’ve held your favourite pair of jeans up to your expanded tummy, you probably think that you can never wear them again. You must know that if you eat right during pregnancy, and follow your gynaecologist’s advice, you can easily shed all the weight gained post-delivery, and wear your favourite jeans again.”
Adds Govitrikar: “There may be no more catching up with friends, romantic getaways, or even time to read. Yes, some aspects of your life will change forever at the end of these nine months. But, if you can revisit a few of your pre-baby interests, such as lively relationships, exercise, career, or creative pursuits, you and your child will reap the benefits.”
Take care of yourself
“You’re a better mother to your baby if you can take care of yourself.” Her advice: “Mothers should integrate one or more of their own interests, and surely back their daily schedules when it’s realistic.” “You have to be physically strong, eat right, and you need all the energy to keep at it. I did not overeat, or put on excess weight. At each step, I was careful.”
This is what she’s to say about anxiety that is related to childbirth, “Even though my baby was premature and in the intensive care after birth, I tried to remain calm.”
Many new moms find that guilt gets in the way of rekindling their old interests just as well. Says Govitrikar: “Our orthodox society holds impossible standards for the ‘ideal’ mother.” “A mother is selfless, endlessly patient and devoted. She actually puts her children first before everything else.”
Given this standard, taking time out for a walk, or manicure at the beauty parlour, can seem selfish. But, you should ‘steal’ a little time for yourself, since you can’t keep giving without replenishing your inner self. “If you don’t participate in activities that make you feel good, you won’t be happy and relaxed enough to fully engage with your child.”
Recalls Govitrikar, “I had my husband’s full support and attention. I enjoyed every moment of my pregnancy, even with my little seven-year-old Kiara around. There was so much bonding cultivated, which is equally important for the other sibling too.”
Interact and relax
Interactions with the newborn as well as other children in the house such as playing, reading, telling stories, and singing songs, or just being together, are considered vital for positive child development. When you have finished feeding the baby and when the baby is asleep, find time to rest too. Says Govitrikar, “I do yoga to relax and have just begun working-out!”
Govitrikar is now back in shape, and she looks gorgeous and radiant as ever. She is also regular with her exercises, and visits the gym often. Presently, she is doing a bit of cardio and weight-training, and plans to eventually get back to what it was all before.
Today, Govitrikar appears in a number of advertisements, still looking like a youngster. For the Gladrags Supermodel, who won the contest in 1997 – her first big break – Govitrikar plans to study further and specialise someday in cosmetology!
She observes: “Depression after childbirth usually occurs with reduced interaction with normal social and personal routines. So, hang in there and recharge your batteries, because it’s just what you need to look after your little one!”
Govitrikar’s 11 Tips
First, and foremost, be easy on yourself. Give yourself the “go-ahead” to take that much-needed time-out. So, get started right away with the following stress-busting tips and get yourself through this roller-coaster ride [as some women relate to!]:
- Ask for help, from whoever it may be. Ask your doctor for advice, your parents, relatives and friends too. Get a good maid as well to assist you
- Keep the faith. Re-decorate your puja room, or altar. Read the Holy Scriptures and enjoy with quiet moments of prayer and offer thanks. Begin to introduce rituals into your everyday life
- Eat well. Foods affect us emotionally. Enjoy good food that keeps you happy and satisfied; also eat healthy food, as you will be feeding your young one
- Sleep well. Make a time-table for yourself. Many women feel exhausted after labour and delivery and may need a long time to fully recover. So, when your baby sleeps, try to relax and catch a bit of sleep too
- Buy a “Baby Record Book,” fill it with pictures, photos, and good moments. Write small verses, or simple lines — anything that has touched your life
- Surround yourself with happy people who give the big boost to your life
- Laugh. Laughing stimulates the body to produce hormones that cause the brain to release stress-reducing endorphins.
- Keep networking with your women friends
- Get out of the house and rejuvenate, or take some “me-time” out each day. Groom yourself. Begin looking good and dressing well to feel beautiful too. This is extremely important to keep yourself mentally well
- Do not forget your husband, your other kid/s and family members; they are all in it together with you
- Get that love spark back into your life; find time for your love life again. Because, slowly, but surely, and with time, you will once again learn to love your body and take care of it well.