A book for baby and me
Obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Gita Arjun on what has kept her book on pregnancy a favourite for expecting couples over the years
When noted Chennai-based Ob-Gyn Dr Gita Arjun first released her book Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy(Westland) in 2009, she had decades of experience in the field of reproductive medicine to back her up. Now, as she returns with a second edition, she is backed by rave reviews, a lot of constructive feedback, and a well-selling Tamil edition to boot. Dr Arjun has a good grasp of the reason this book has remained the go-to for parents to be.
According to Dr Arjun, the barrage of information that a pregnant woman is met with in India can be overwhelming and confusing, and there was a need for a book that sifts through all of it and presents the most reliable. There was also a need for expert guidance in the Indian context, in matters like diet.
“I was encouraged by the phenomenal reviews that couples had given the book. It also seemed that some of them wanted more details,” says Dr Arjun, explaining her reasons for writing a second edition. The response from the first edition was so strong that a Tamil edition was launched in 2014. There is a lot in this new edition that the original did not have.
“I have almost doubled the number of chapters. I have added more explanations. One of the chapters is devoted entirely to women who have fibroids and get pregnant. It is a common problem that is not usually addressed. A completely new addition is boxes with real-life questions that mothers ask during pregnancy. Many women have told me that they feel happy with the explanations, and also that they are not the only ones with those doubts!” she says.
Most of the additions are based on feedback from readers, as well as on frequent queries that Dr Arjun had come across in her years of practice. A book, after all, provides a wider reach than a doctor can physically attain. “The book answers so many questions that couples forget to ask their obstetrician, or are too scared to ask,” she points out.
Dr Arjun also emphasises on the role of the father both during and after a pregnancy, and is part of a school of doctors who insist that both parents be present in the delivery room. She notes how it is usually a woman — like the mother or mother-in-law — who accompanies an expecting mother to check-ups. Fathers, she says, are often either hesitant, or told to leave it to the ladies.
“In fact, a father-to-be had written in his review that he was so much more confident regarding going to the obstetrician after reading the book, because he was no longer stumped by the medical terminology,” says Dr Arjun.
Complicated medical terminology isn’t just a hindrance in the doctor’s cabin; it also trumps the “savvy young couples” of today when they try to clear their doubts online. Information is everywhere, but it is valuable only when it comes from a respected medical practitioner, and when it understands and addresses your particular breed of concerns. Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy seems to be doing just that.
Dr Arjun stresses on this need to have the right information, saying, “Women need to be confident about their pregnancies, and the only way to be that is to empower oneself with knowledge about the pregnancy.”