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Updated: September 1, 2009 14:27 IST

For parents-to-be

GEETA PADMANABHAN
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Busting baby myths Gita Arjun’s new book has it all. Photo: S.S. Kumar
Busting baby myths Gita Arjun’s new book has it all. Photo: S.S. Kumar

Find answers to questions you’ve always wondered about in Dr. Gita Arjun’s Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy

Dr. Gita Arjun loves to constantly share stories — happy ones — she’s gathered in the 28 years of OBGYN practice. They are the truth-stranger-than-fiction kind — packed with drama, humour and unexpected turns, the way she tells them.

She decided to gather her replies into a book. The first in a series, “Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy” was recently released. “It’s an Indian book that addresses Indian concerns,” Dr. Gita said. “Women can use the book for support to change the scene around her.”

When she started practice, only women were allowed into the labour room. “I got the husband into the labour room in 1981.” How did he take it? “Even with the best obstetricians, the kindest nurses, women in labour feel pain alone. Husband in, they have someone to yell at and occasionally punch and scratch.”

She started labour preparation classes to educate parents on the process of childbirth. “Informing women is to empower them to be pro-active about their health. The unknown is more fearful.” How “unknown” it all was came to her with the questions pregnant women, even educated ones, asked. “The myths they believe in should worry us,” she said. “One woman stayed in bed for three months with legs elevated to the point of disabling herself, to prevent miscarriage.”

She kept answering questions from India, from the Indian Diaspora, across the world. Can she climb stairs? (“What am I supposed to say? Carry her on your hip?”) When should she go into bed rest? Shouldn’t she stop eating papaya, mango, pineapple, sesame seeds? Aren’t iron tablets harmful? Isn’t saffron good for colour? (“The day the baby is conceived, its genes are programmed.”) Feeling vulnerable, the pregnant woman asks for and accepts a million suggestions from people around, mostly about food. “The result is, calorie intake gets out of control. Women gain two to three kilo weight every time they come for a check-up. The husband says: ‘Oh doc, she doesn’t eat a thing! And she has to eat for two people!’”

Her book has a chapter for the husband. “In nuclear families the husband plays a large role in taking care of the pregnant wife and later the infant. It tells him what happens to mother and baby week by week.” There are pictures of how to give a bath, how to change a diaper.

Handy Reference

India’s first easy-to-use guide to pregnancy and childbirth, addressing issues unique to Indian parents.

Provides a week-by-week guide to the physiological changes occurring in the foetus and mother.

A chapter defines the role of husbands in helping their wives through pregnancy and delivery.

The book dispels common myths due to misinformation and misplaced beliefs.

Abundantly illustrated with user-friendly tips, the book is an encyclopaedia of up-to-date medical information.

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