Pakistani actor Sarwat Gilani’s brave revelation in a recent interview, on her struggle with postpartum depression post child birth, highlights the importance of postpartum recovery. Sarwat shared how after “a serious surgery” she met her baby who was struggling to have milk while she herself was struggling too, “So, I had this feeling that I should better let her go just to get rid of the stress I am going through. When I entered the room I was crying. I told Fahad that I wanted to hurt the newborn. He told me that these are postpartum blues.”

Pakistani actor Sarwat Gilani discusses severe postpartum depression: Self-care tips for new mothers on recovery (Photo by Twitter/DialoguePak)

The actor is married to cosmetology surgeon and actor Fahad Mirza and further opined, “So, it’s okay and it is not your permanent feeling. So, you need the awareness that the strange feeling that you have they are not you. It’s just the mental state that you are going through. Therefore, you must read more about postpartum depression to understand it better. Anything can happen to a person during that stage.”

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Schumailla Bassi, Senior Consultant- Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Ludhiana, explained, “After delivery, you may think that you can jump back to normal life. However, this time in your life is full of adjustments with a newborn as well as it’s a time to recover from the childbirth. It’s important to remember the childbirth is something your body will need to recover from overtime. No matter what type of delivery vagina or is there in your body will need time to heal.”

She elaborated, “Let us divide this phase into two parts the first week after delivery and the second the next five weeks after delivery. The postpartum period total comprises of six weeks as in 40 days after delivery. After this comes the next the next two months. Hence, in all three months after any delivery is the time that you take to recover completely after the birthing process. The first month of having a newborn can be overwhelming. At times you might feel like all your time is focused on caring for your baby. But don’t forget to take care of yourself. You might hear the phrase. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your baby, and this is truly an element of truth in it.”

There are several things you will need to remember to do after delivery to take care of your own health. According to Dr Schumailla Bassi, these are as follows –

  1. Rest: Delivering a baby is hard work and you probably couldn’t sleep much in the hospital. The initial few weeks after delivery are important for you to rest as much as and whenever you can please try to sleep or rest when your baby sleeps.
  2. Food: Eat what your doctor allows you to and mostly it’s comprising of healthy home cooked basic light food specifically after Caesar in initially for the first 24 hours like food is given and then full diet is advised. Try to have short frequent meals. Stay very well hydrated use the traditional India system of having a lot of water with jeera and salt for breastfeeding, taking salt and sugar in water to stay hydrated to have a light meal during the day and short meal so that you don’t have stomach ache and digestion and also to walk a little if possible after having meals or to sit upright for sometime and then take a nap so that your food gets digested and you are benefited by that healthy diet. The tradition of having panjiri after the birthing process comes in hand. Once your doctor gives a thumbs up but see to it that you and a baby stay okay use it in small quantities alternate initially and then increase the quantity and take it daily. It does help you recover from the birthing process.
  3. Avoid heavy lifting: You should avoid lifting anything that’s heavier than your baby while you’re recovering. It is specially important. If you have a C-section after delivery same way avoid bending downwards specially after scissor in section if you need to lift anything, please sit down on the floor by folding your knees and pick things up, also you should take care how to get up from the bed you should turn yourself on a side and then get up from the bed so that the abdominal pressure is decreased if we can use abdominal binders specially after the C-sections.
  4. Washing your hands is really important though it might be a simple thing but make sure you wash your hands often. Specially after you visit to the bathroom or you touch your underpants or your own napkins or your babies diapers or before touching your baby and feeding your baby.
  5. Limiting stair climbing during the first week: You should try and cut down on the amount of stair climbing. Try to limit the number of trips you take up and down each day while you heal specifically after a C-section.
  6. Keeping your babies care simple: Learning your babies schedule and needs in the first few weeks is hard enough and don’t act to your to do list when it comes to your baby’s needs. Your baby doesn’t need a bath every day instead we can wipe and clean the baby with a clean cloth, or we can take help from our family members.
  7. Asking for help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or don’t feel guilty. Let your family and friends known to you. Help you in cooking passing things to you in household course babysitting while you’re taking a nap and giving burp to the baby picking things from the market for you etc.
  8. Limiting visitors: People will want to come over and meet your new family member. However this might not be the best time to host. Guess we should know that it’s okay to limit visitors and say no completely to company for the first few weeks. During this time you’ll be adjusting to new life with your baby trying to rest even the baby will be trying to have long nap And getting it adjusted to this new environment. If we have less visitors then for a mother to feed the baby and keep the baby on her chest for long hours and let the baby sleep. There becomes very easy. This helps to maintain the babies temperature and very healing for the baby in the initial few days.
  9. Not striving for perfection: Try not to stress over a small Mess people can come over to see you and your baby, but an unclean home will not make them feel awkward.
  10. Limit the use of phone: iPads and television during this time because the eyes need rest, we should not strain. Your eyes hence should put away the mobile. And try to switch it off so that the radiation is not there in the same room.
  11. Focus on your mental health: See to it how you feel during this time if you feel that you’re not feeling okay or too low or kind of sad, guilty, fatigue, depressed talk to your family members and friends and try to seek help.
  12. Posture is very important to keep right right after childhood. If you had a vagina birth or C-section, try to keep your back straight and your neck straight specially while breastfeeding.
  13. Sexual intercourse – when to have intercourse? Until after your first and following checkup appointments, your body needs time to heal after giving birth vagina, or his area and waiting a few weeks to have sex as a part of that healing process, your healthcare provider will tell you if it’s okay to have sex again when your perineum has healed and when your postpartum, bleeding and discharges minimal.
  14. Birth control: Discuss birth control with your healthcare provider of your provider. Even though you might not menstruate while breastfeeding, you can still get pregnant after six weeks to 8 weeks.
  15. Taking care of your stitches, vagina or abdominal: The healthcare provider will guide you how to do that. If you have vagina then we need to use ointments. We need to avoid squats. We need to avoid constipation and too much of pelvic pressure and we need to clean. Keep them clean and try and do hot bath as advised by a healthcare provider for abdominal stitches. Also we need to keep them dry and apply anointment before bath and after bath as it was and also to take care of the skin around and to keep it moisturised.
  16. Always take your supplements and medication advised by your healthcare provider: Don’t take them lightly, especially iron and calcium and other multivitamins. Go for all your scheduled hospital appointments. It’s important to avoid alcohol and caffeine during this time.
  17. Large glasses of fluid: Water, juice, milk, jeera pani are good choices. A healthy diet will help you recover in the weeks after delivery.
  18. Exercise and walking: Take a walk. It’s good to have a break from the bed to walk a little taking care of your stitches in the initial week and after two weeks if you feel like excising, you can just do simple neck and arm and leg exercises only without doing vigorous exercises of the Centre part of the body, walking in a gentle way is the first step to exercise after delivery and after six weeks of vaginal birth, and after three months of in birth you can start your normal exercises after taking advice from your doctor.

Dr Schumailla Bassi concluded, “Postpartum depression or you may call it baby blues or whatever is true. It’s not something that is hyped about but it does happen and many times there are no reasons for it. It’s a complex mix of physical, emotional and behavioural changes that happen after childbirth causing you to feel depressed, the feeling of sadness, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, fatigue can all be a part of it and in severe degrees. If you experience any of this, reach out to your family, friends or your doctor or health care provider. Don’t let it increase to a large extent before you take any advice or help. Try to do that in the initial phase.”