The Tamil version of Dr. Gita Arjun’s book Passport To A Healthy Pregnancy was released by actor Suriya recently

“If you are planning your next life, ask to be born an obstetrician, you touch so many lives and they come back to touch you,” said Dr. Gita Arjun at the launch of the Tamil version of her popular book Passport To A Healthy Pregnancy, pointing to the fact that people tasked to translate, edit, set, publish and release the book were all connected to her by the umbilical cord. Actor Suriya, who released the book was born at E.V. Kalyani, her parent hospital, she said, putting up the scanned copy of his birth registration in 1975.

In a speech peppered with witty anecdotes, animated pictures and pages from the book projected on a screen, she explained the why, whom and what’s-inside of the book. “The book is meant to empower women, to help them take care of themselves, do away with misconceptions about pregnancy, exercise her right to ask questions, get the right answers,” she said. A lot of women find pregnancy scary, but information from an obstetrician with 32 years of practice should help dispel myths. The Tamil version is so necessary to reach a larger number of women, to take the message to those who are not comfortable with English. It is for the Tamil diaspora across the globe. Reviews from women for the English version (on flipkart) say repeatedly: “Now we have advice from the Indian point of view, I don’t have to rely on foreign books!”

Arogyamana Garbaththirkku Oru Vazhikatti is a milestone in many ways. Starting with planning for pregnancy, the basics, duration, the need to eat healthy, the 300-odd pages are filled with detailed information on getting ready for childbirth, pain-free delivery, pre-and-post-natal exercises, problem pregnancies, medication, preparing the elder child to welcome the sibling and coping with that heart-wrenching situation of losing the new-born. The book has it all. It is comprehensive, the content distilled from decades of being in the labour room, delivering babies under every conceivable medical condition.

It is pregnancy demystified. You are told of what happens in different phases of pregnancy, how to know if baby is safe, why the Caesarean section is the last resort, what complications you can expect, abortion, premature-and-extended pregnancies, gestational diabetes, pregnancy with BP, late pregnancy, infections, Rh factor and the answer to that question: “How do I avoid pregnancy?” All this comes in a language that is easily understood, thanks to Hema Narasimhan who has translated the book. The content is assimilated well under sub-headings and in bullet-points, with boxes of highlighted factoids, sketches and photographs (some of which aren’t clear). “Learn about it and prepare,” is the message.

The book emphasises the role of the husband. Narrating stories of how a husband bought ice-cream bricks daily for a wife who wouldn’t eat much, another who wouldn’t let the wife climb stairs, the doctor insisted the husband’s informed participation makes a huge difference. “At labour, women are exhausted, angry, tend to get out of control. Why should the obstetrician take it?” she asked as the audience laughed. Parents do not leave the hospital without watching demos of diaper-changing, bathing the baby, she said, making clear the book is for both parents.

Extremely informative launch said actor Suriya. He asked people to see childbirth in the light of what one can learn from Dr. Gita Arjun. Parents don’t talk about what they went through to have us, he said, implying how the book will fill the gap. “I was lucky to be with Jo (his wife) when we had our baby, I was shooting for Vaaranam Aayiram here. Women go through a lot, have mood swings, differences with elders about what should/should not be done. But they are so strong, resilient; see the child through all possible illnesses they are prone to before the age of 10.” How many of us know something as simple as folic acid can make a difference, he asked. Complimenting his mom and Jo, he said, “I salute all future moms and this book should reach all sections, all places.”

Compère Bharathi Baskar made the programme lively with her scholarly references, and Dr. Gita Arjun acknowledged the contributions of publisher Thirupathi of Thirumagal and others who made the book possible.

Find the book at passport2health.in