As she recalls, it was her husband’s casual remark over coffee that prompted her. “At sixty we probably have just another decade to accomplish more!” exclaimed Arjun, sitting across the table from her on his birthday. Just a few months behind him, Dr Gita Arjun reflected that it may not be enough time to achieve all that she had in mind; she had to keep going. And so, encouraged by the success of her first edition, Dr Gita Arjun embarked yet again on her literary journey to bring to expecting mothers sound medical counsel. This publication would afford these women a wholesome and memorable experience.
When a couple looks forward to pregnancy, the elation it brings can neither be expressed in words nor contained. An excitement builds, twinned with a sense of curiosity – Will my pregnancy be normal? What investigations will we have? How different is a pregnancy in the 21st century? Dr. Gita Arjun’s book quenches these questions, featuring a quick reckoner and excellent week-to-week guide that will see couples through the trimesters. This is Dr. Gita Arjun’s tribute to moms-to-be, a dedicated initiative to further educate and draw them out of the grasp of hand-me-down myths.
What prompted you to pen your second book?
When I wrote the first book, it was to fill the lacuna in India for a pregnancy book written by an Indian obstetrician for Indian parents-to-be. I was gratified at the response to the book from young couples who truly wanted to be informed about their pregnancy. One couple gratefully wrote that they chose this over foreign publications because the book is focused on Indian mothers and had a better grasp on what Indian parents faced.
Encouraging online reviews for the first book prompted me to bring out the second edition. This edition has been revised, updated and modified to meet the demand for more detailed information, and will empower parents-to-be to navigate their pregnancy with greater confidence.
While writing this edition, I kept in mind that different people have different expectations from a pregnancy guide. Some might just want to know the basic details of a pregnancy. Some like to know everything in great detail. A mother may certainly choose to stay away from chapters that make her nervous!
If a reader merely wanted the basics, they may read the preliminary chapters and the week-by-week development of the pregnancy. Every couple should definitely prepare themselves for labour and delivery by reading the section devoted to that.
Answers to common doubts can be obtained by skimming through the outlined textboxes in Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy that present real-life situations and queries raised by mothers and their partners.
For those who need more details, information can be found by diving into the relevant chapters that impact their pregnancy. If there is a problem that has arisen in pregnancy, this book will make it easier to understand what is happening. One reader wrote, “Reading this book made our visits to the doctor so meaningful and interesting, otherwise we would have been stumped by various medical terms and phrases”.
What is the most common fear that pregnant couples have?
Without a doubt, the commonest fear that pregnant couples have is of having a baby with a physical abnormality or intellectual disability. In the book, I have reassured parents-to-be that only 2-3 per cent of pregnant couples will face this problem. Ultrasound scans and diagnostic tests are available to make sure that the baby is normal. These tests have been explained in simple language.
Most women are guided through their pregnancy by elders of the house.Will reading your book give them a different perspective?
I want parents-to-be to enjoy every moment of their pregnancy, armed with the latest facts, specific information and essential details. Though elders in the house want to help, they may sometimes pass on misinformation, myths and misplaced beliefs. Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy lays out all the facts in simple terms. Myths and old wives’ tales are explained away and will lay to rest the fears of pregnant couples.
Is there a reader’s personal experience you would like to share with us that benefited from your book?
During her pregnancy, Amrtha looked up as many Indian pregnancy blogs as she could find. She googled everything! She also bought three pregnancy guides. She ended up confused and decided to stick to Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy. This is what she had to say: “As a first time expecting mother in a new city, far away from family and friends, I was anxious at the beginning of my pregnancy. Consequently, I purchased almost every pregnancy book I could get my hands on. By far, this book was my favourite. The author very clearly explains which is the myth and which isn’t, and the scientific principles behind the same, which I really appreciated. The book was clear, straightforward and with a surprisingly large amount of detail. I’m letting all my friends and families know about this one!’
Another grateful father wrote, ‘We were able to avoid a caesarean thanks to this book, which details when to go for a caesarean. Thus, my wife delivered a healthy baby girl normally. We credit the author for her effort towards raising awareness in beautifully crafted, simple language.’
How much are men /husbands involved during the pregnancy period and would you advise men also to read the book?
For more than three decades, I have been a staunch supporter of the husband’s involvement throughout his wife’s pregnancy. At our hospital, we have had husbands in the labour room since 1981. Fathers-to-be are definitely more involved in the pregnancy today than ever before. Indian husbands are actively taking the responsibility of steering their wives through a comfortable and supported pregnancy. Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy has an exclusive chapter defining the role of husbands in helping their wives through pregnancy and delivery. I find that sometimes the husbands are more avid readers of the book!
With technology at one’s disposal, how do you think your book will help?
With technology and an array of investigations available to the modern obstetrician today, pregnancy has been made safer for mother and child. At the same time, the ‘Google and App generation’ of parents-to-be are sufficiently tech-savvy. I have included apps that couples can use during their pregnancy.
Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy is also available in the Kindle version and this has made it easy for the modern young woman to look up her queries on the go.
Your advice to new mothers of today?
Today’s woman wants everything: an education, a career and a family. There is no reason she can’t have it all and make a success of it. Unfortunately, in this day and age, women are getting more and more sedentary. The one problem that is coming up in recent years is excess weight. I strongly advise women to optimise their weight before embarking on pregnancy. It also helps to develop healthy eating habits and include exercise in their daily routine. This will ensure a healthy, happy pregnancy.