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Dr.Gita Arjun’s Passport To A Healthy Pregnancy, deals with the various aspects of pregnancy in an Indian context.
Review by Rohini Haldea
When I was pregnant, there were no comprehensive and reliable Indian books available for me to refer to, not that I knew of anyway. So I turned to the time-tested international bestseller What To Expect When You Are Expecting. I wasn’t disappointed but being set in an alien context, the book fell short of addressing all my concerns, especially when it came to diet.
So when I received my copy of Passport To A Healthy Pregnancy by Dr. Gita Arjun, I thought it was just what the doctor ordered. The familiarity of seeing an Indian face on the cover augured a book that would address the specific needs and concerns of pregnant women in India.
In my opinion, one of the biggest gaps in such books by foreign authors is locally relevant diet advice. Dr. Arjun has attempted to fix this with a useful chapter on eating healthy, which helps slot Indian cuisine regulars like chapatis, rice and lentils into an ideal pregnancy diet. There is also diet advice peppered through the book suggesting, for example, familiar and easily available options like idlis and coconut water to help alleviate or minimise certain symptoms of pregnancy.
I especially liked the boxes that dealt with and debunked various pregnancy myths and old wives’ tales. Nothing brings on unsolicited advice like a woman with a bun in the oven and the conflicting advice from family and friends can be confusing. This book provides definite answers on questions like whether it is safe to eat papaya, or if eating saffron will beget a fair child.
After some detailed sections on labour and delivery, Dr. Arjun does not stop short at delivery and a sizeable portion of the book is devoted to postpartum information and advice. She covers a breadth of topics, including a photographic how-to for bathing the baby and post-pregnancy birth control.
Overall, I think the book is pretty comprehensive. If anything, I think it is too detailed and technical in parts for the average layperson who might not be interested in knowing the thickness of the blastocyst wall, or even what a blastocyst is for that matter! A lighter, less dry tone of voice would have made this book much easier and more fun to read.
Another quibble involves the layout of the book. It can be pretty overwhelming to read a book covering all aspects on pregnancy at one go. A book that is organised by sections that progress as the pregnancy does is easy to swallow in smaller, more manageable bites. To this end, the information in the book is somewhat scattered. I would have preferred advice on diet, exercise, obstetrician visits and potential health issues, amongst other things, to be handily located in the relevant month or trimester of the pregnancy instead of separate chapters.
If this book has been available when I was pregnant, I would have definitely bought it. However, I would have bought it to supplement my trusty What to Expect, mostly because the latter is a better organised book and a more enjoyable read. If I had to choose just one, Dr. Arjun’s book just might have won out for its culturally relevant content.
Publisher: Westland Books
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