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Lisa Haydon Lalvani’s top advice for new mothers

"There’s no point in being paranoid,” says Lisa

By Cheryl-Ann Couto  May 25th, 2017

In April, just a month from her due date, Lisa Haydon Lalvani’s Pilates studio, Heartcore, in London, politely asked her not to come back. “I got kicked out,” she laughs. “I think they were worried something would happen. But by then I was going only once a week anyway, so it was a mutual break-up.”

There’s a certain earth mother quality about the 30-year-old top model and actor as she inhabits this new phase and shape—aided greatly, of course, by her Instagram imagery of sun-lashed skin, sea-salted hair and a body that is possibly even more sensuous for the telling protrusion. She appears happy, relaxed and preternaturally strong. Lisa worked full-time till the end of her second trimester, shooting for Bindass’ web series, The Trip; globetrotted from Australia to Thailand to Hong Kong to India, and back to London with husband, telecom magnate Dino Lalvani; and all the while, managed a bracing mix of cross training, Pilates and ballet-inspired fitness routines she got off YouTube. It is only now, with weeks to go, that she’s experiencing a little discomfort… from being too fit. “My stomach muscles are so strong that the baby is growing, but my stomach isn’t. So, that’s very uncomfortable.”


A post shared by Lisa Haydon (@lisahaydon) on Apr 14, 2017 at 11:07am PDT 

There isn’t a self-aggrandising note to her pleasure at having had a pregnancy that’s felt like “a long vacation”; just sweet self-assurance. She’s put in the work—years of exercise, eating well, taking her vitamins and currently downing half a litre of green juice daily—and she isn’t surprised her body is returning the favour. “If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you,” she says. “I have never felt happier or prouder of my body than I do at this point. I’d happily get pregnant again and again.”

Right now, she’s happy to potter about her new home in London, setting up, baking bread, getting the baby’s room ready, and just generally nesting. It isn’t a pace she is used to or necessarily likes, but she knows it is what her body needs right now, and she’s always listened to it, sometimes against established wisdom even. “When I got pregnant, I was travelling so much. I never went to the same ob-gyn twice. Some people might say that was irresponsible, but I feel like if something is wrong, my body will tell me.” There have, of course, been unpleasant surprises too, as she shape-shifted, she tells me. But she’s done what she’s always done when faced with the new and challenging: “I learn as I go. People can spend hours talking or worrying about something that’s happened. I’ll just Google it and be like, ‘Ah, okay, that’s what that is. Fine,’ figure how to deal with it, and get on. It’s good to have knowledge—
I have a weekly newsletter that tells me what’s going on with my body. But there’s no point in being paranoid.”

A post shared by Lisa Haydon (@lisahaydon) on Feb 18, 2017 at 8:59am PST 


If it appears Lisa is segueing into motherhood without any of the doubts and fears that append the modern career woman, it’s because this has been as much a lifelong dream of hers as anything else. “I always wanted to be a mum. I fantasised about it,” she says. “The way my mother raised us eight children was my ideal scenario. We were a big family, and family was always important and fulfilling. You get tired of thinking about yourself all the time, you know.”

In an interview in The Times Of India in May last year, while promoting her film, Housefull 3, Lisa expressed some of these feelings about motherhood, except she denounced feminism while doing it. “Feminism is just an overused term and people make too much noise about it for no reason. Women have been given these bodies to produce children…,” she had said. It appeared that she had joined that growing league of Bollywood’s female frontliners misconstruing
and denying the movement.

I ask her what hindsight looks like. Does she stand by what she said? No, she tells me, she knows better now. “I had never given feminism much thought. I guess it was a lack of education because now I surely know what a feminist is.
I was coming from a different place: I was working so much at one point that I knew if I didn’t actually stop and think about having children, I wouldn’t have any. I had also just lost my mum. That was where I was in my head, but it all came out so wrong.”

The backlash was swift and merciless, exacerbated manifold as it always is now, by social media. “I had never been hated like that before. It was aggressive, and I received so much negativity,” she says. Putting a foot wrong can become a soul-crushing saga for anyone with a modestly popular Twitter account; with celebrities the range is point-blank. But Lisa didn’t offer a clarification. “It made me question who I was, you know? I thought I’m not the person everyone is pegging me to be. After years and years of being who I am, how can three lines I’ve said change everything? But it felt too dangerous to even venture there again, so I thought the less said the better. And if people look at my life, instead of the one stupid comment I made, they will know the truth.”

The fact is Lisa, like every other woman, wants it all and wants it on her time. She says she’s pumped to get back to work as soon as it’s possible, but she won’t do it from the fear of a career lapse. “In India, if you get married, let alone have a baby, it’s assumed you’re not that interested in work. Lisa ‘settled down’, they’ll say. What a labelling, binding term. Nothing could be further from the truth. We no longer live in a world where you need to choose one or the other, and I’m not going to allow myself to be pushed to choose.”

For now, homemaking is a full-time job. “It can feel like a rabbit hole,” she admits. “One day, you’re baking your own bread. Next, you’re thinking of growing your own vegetables, and I can only imagine what having a baby as well will be like. This time, right now, is the calm before it all changes.”  

New momma Lisa Haydon Lalvani in the season’s hottest swimwear

Lycra bikini, Rs 9,100, Zulu & Zephyr. Viscose crochet cover-up, Rs 21,500, Melissa Odabash. Rutile necklace, gold-plated silver necklace; both prices on request, MYO Designs.

Elastane bikini, Rs 15,250, Melissa Odabash. Gold and diamond necklace, Rs 37,500, gold necklace, Rs 31,000; both The Line at Le Mill. 

Nylon bikini top, Rs 9,800, Araks. Jersey bikini bottom, price on request, Hermès. Silk cover-up, Rs 8,750, Turquoise & Gold. Ceramic earrings, price on request, Louis Vuitton.

Crêpe maxi, price on request, Roberto Cavalli. Leather block heels, Rs 68,000, Christian Louboutin. Gold-plated brass howlite necklace, Rs 1,950, gold-plated brass howlite cuffs, Rs 2,900; both Ikka Dukka. Gold-plated bangles, gold-plated cuff; both prices on request, Zariin.

Lycra bikini top (part of set), Rs 17,000, Moeva London. Ceramic and hemp cord necklace, price on request, SavioJon.

Photographs: Farrokh Chothia. Styling: Malini Banerji. Art Direction: Reshma Rajiwdekar. Hair And Make-Up: Namrata Soni. Production: Parul Menezes. Assisted By: Aneri Koradia (Production); Jahnvi Bansal and Sejal Pendharkar (Styling).

Neoprene bikini top, price on request, Stella McCartney. Cotton silk trousers, Rs 17,500, Sanchita. Gold earrings, price on request, The Line at Le Mill. Gold-plated crystal brass cuff, Rs 2,500, gold-plated brass cuff, Rs 2,900; both Ikka Dukka. Gold-plated cuff, gold-plated bangle; both prices on request, Zariin.

Nylon bikini, price on request, Michael Kors Collection. Silk robe, Rs 24,000, Shivan & Narresh. Gold-plated sterling silver palm cuff, price on request, MYO Designs. Gold-plated brass earrings, gold-plated brass ring; both prices on request, Louis Vuitton.

Nylon bikini, price on request, Michael Kors Collection. Silk robe, Rs 24,000, Shivan & Narresh. Gold-plated sterling silver palm cuff, price on request, MYO Designs. Gold-plated brass earrings, gold-plated brass ring; both prices on request, Louis Vuitton.

Elastane bikini, Rs 5,999, TOMMYXGIGI by Tommy Hilfiger. Crêpe silk cape, Rs 8,000, Lola By Suman B. Dendrite opal earrings, price on request, MYO Designs. Gold-plated bangle, price on request, Zariin. Gold-plated crystal brass cuff, RS 2,500, gold-plated brass cuff, Rs 2,900; both Ikka Dukka.