“There was a day after I had Taimur, when I was alone in my room. I undressed for a shower. And I looked at myself in the mirror. Reality hit hard. There I was — scarred, chubby, puffy, tired,” says Kareena Kapoor.
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The Udta Punjab actor, who had her second child, Jehangir, with husband Saif Ali Khan earlier this year, is quite conscious of being a ‘belching, bloated star’, in her new book Kareena Kapoor Khan’s Pregnancy Bible .
Published by Juggernaut, the book is an insight into her life as a pregnant woman — from nutrition, fitness and breastfeeding, to preparing the nursery, shopping for the baby, pregnancy fashion and self care. “I think most new moms place a lot of pressure on themselves — I certainly did! I was so paranoid and nervous about handling Taimur, and I am so much more relaxed with Jeh,” she says in an email interview.
Kareena’s account of her experiences are interspersed with explanations from specialists such as dietitian Rujuta Diwekar, fitness trainer Namrata Purohit and Professor of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, Dr Prabha Chandra.
“Today, we have access to lots of online information about pregnancy, but we were missing a one-stop book for pregnant Indian moms. A lot of us are vegetarian and we have to ensure we get enough protein, iron and calcium in our diets. Postpartum depression affects more than half of Indian moms. Many Indian moms may not have an exclusive nursery for their baby, so we need to think about the changes they should make to their bedroom to make it baby-friendly,” says Kareena, adding that the book is authorised by FOGSI, India’s federation of obstetricians and gynaecologists.
“Above all I wanted to be completely frank about my experience,” she says.
A pandemic baby
Jehangir’s birth in February was right before the second wave of Covid-19 rose; Kareena was shooting Laal Singh Chadha with Aamir Khan in Delhi during her second trimester. “Saif, Taimur and I moved to Pataudi and made that our base for a while. I would commute between Delhi and Pataudi every day. I shot in autos, with 150 people on set, often at nights from 7 pm to early next day,” she says, “Hundreds of women continued to work through these trying times and I powered through too.” A second pregnancy at 40 already meant greater exhaustion, and adding to it, was the stress of the pandemic. “I think if life continues in this way for much longer, Jeh’s ‘normal’ will be different from Taimur’s,” she observes.
Through the book, she compares and contrasts her two pregnancies, sharing how she prepared Taimur for the arrival of his baby brother. “I would even show him the ultrasounds — he didn’t really understand them but he liked being included,” she says.
Given the extra stay-at-home time during the pandemic, Kareena says that she enjoys watching her two sons interact with each other. “By the time Jeh was two months old, Taimur had already been lying in bed with him, trying to read him stories. He has chalked out a bunch of games that he will play with his baby brother. Jeh is exciting for him. He can’t wait for him to grow up. I can see Jeh will soon grow to adore his big brother,” she says, adding, “They both seem different though. Tim looks like Saif, but he is outgoing and flamboyant like me. Jeh looks like me, but he seems serious and quieter — more Saif than me, that’s for sure.”
She credits Saif with Taimur’s self assurance and lack of sibling jealousy. “Saif really carried the load for me when Taimur was born. I was nervous with Taimur. And while he is close to me, he shares an altogether different bond with his father. Saif has been my rock.”
“Modern Indian dads are always present for the important things — vaccines, school interviews, sports day and the like,” she notes, “But I think just being there for your kids for the nitty-gritties of life matters — bathing, bedtime stories and ice-cream runs.”
Though she hopes that her book will be a one-stop manual for moms to be, she acknowledges that true learning can begin only when there is a live, kicking baby in your arms that has a mind of its own. “You may know the exact method in which to make your baby latch on your nipple, but what if it doesn’t happen? You may think your baby is crying with hunger but actually it might have colic. You may have read all about baby blues, but when it hits you like a ton of bricks you may be helpless,” she says.
Whatever happens, she reminds us, “Be kind to yourself... though I know that is easier said than done!”