Editor’s Note: Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy is a wonderful book for Indian parents-to-be by Dr Gita Arjun. Our member padmininatarajan reviews it. if you have read this book, do write in your thoughts to us here.
Parenting is the only profession to which you come with no special qualifications. There was a time when elders in the family were on tap for advice and help in matters concerning prenatal and post natal issues. The advent of the nuclear family stranded parents-to-be in no-man’s land. Then Childbirth and child care books became popular.
Quite a few generations have been raised on books by Dr Benjamin Spock and Miriam Stoppard. Dr Spock’s book has been, for both women and men, the first reference guide for pregnancy, child birth and bringing up children. Other books have come into the market and TV shows, telephone help and advice at the touch of the mouse on the Internet has become the major source of information.
In India there has been a vacuum in good child birth and childcare books that appeal to the urban and educated couple. Dr Gita Arjun, the eminent obstetrician and Gynaecologist in Chennai, who has delivered more babies than anybody can imagine for the past 25 years, has used her vast experiences in the field to put together “Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy”. This USP of this book is that it addresses the Indian woman with all her concerns about issues, myths and practices that are still prevailing and influencing women in this society.
It is a glossy book, with photos, tables and tips that are based on case histories that launches each chapter. No detail has been left out and it starts from the initial knowledge of the pregnancy and holds the hands of the parents-to-be through the three trimesters of tests, scans, developments, crisis right up to the labour room. Dr Arjun deals with different kinds of deliveries. She however does not stop with the birth of the baby but continues to help the parents with initial stages of their child’s development including her plug for breast feeding. There is also advice about postpartum issues, family planning, safe sex and other issues that rise between a couple after the birth of the baby.
Dr Arjun also sensitively deals with the older woman who has a baby late in her biological clock, parents who have a child after a long gap, sensitizing the older sibling to the new arrival, having and coping with twins and how to handle miscarriages and loss of a child.
Throughout the book she focuses on natural ways of handling the pregnancy, the importance of diet and exercise with sketches and photos to illustrate them, medical problems like RH factors, spotting etc. and how to handle common illnesses and more serious issues like gestating diabetes during a pregnancy.
This book is really a ‘How-to’ kind of publication that literally holds the hands of the mother-to-be and brings the modern father into actively participating in the wondrous world of child bearing, a sphere that he was kept out of till recently in the Indian social system. The book ends with a very useful checklist for pregnancy through each trimester, a detailed list for the mother to take to the hospital for herself and the baby and a section to jot down personal notes through the pregnancy.
The experience of a seasoned hand can be seen throughout the book. Dr Arjun handles each stage of the pregnancy, the mother-to-be, her questions, doubts, problems and health issues, the myths that can be ignored and the old wives tales that have no place in a clinical set-up—all with a cool and yet empathetic manner. She does not pooh-pooh even the smallest issue, matters that must have come to her to be solved all these years of practice.
This is a great book that is truly a passport to a new world for Indian parents-to-be and a definitive pregnancy guide. It is also a wonderful present to give to a mother-to-be!