In more ways than one. Nearly two years after her father, producer-director Bruce Paltrow, died of complications from throat cancer at age 58 – bringing Paltrow, as she has said, to her knees in grief – she is doing more than standing tall. Throughout her pregnancy and since the birth, the 31-year-old actress has begun smiling again – an all-out, life-is-good grin rarely seen in recent years. "She's extremely happy," says a close source. "She's in a constant state of elation."
Which is a considerably different state than she was in during her long hours of labor. From the start, Paltrow had done her best to be what Manhattan obstetrician Marc Engelbert, whom she consulted during the first months of her pregnancy, calls a "good pregnant patient." Though she gave up her macrobiotic diet – which forbids dairy and processed flour – in favor of grilled cheese sandwiches, she kept up her yoga, hoping, apparently, that the regimen would help during childbirth. During her stays in London, Paltrow turned to obstetrician Gowri Motha, whose holistic practice includes yoga and Ayuverdic oils, for massages. But as any mom knows, massage is no match for the pains of labor. "It was a long and hard birth," says Martin.
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Up next for the family? Time off. Martin, who met Paltrow at a 2002 Coldplay concert, plans to lie low until next year, and Paltrow, whose films Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Proof are due later this year, has said she might not work "for ages." As Dr. Engelbert sees it, the actress, with some 20 films to her credit, has new priorities: "Nothing is more important to her than being a mother."