Authors Gita Arjun and Mahima Bakshi talk about their books on pregnancy

Mahima Bakshi

Wellness consultant and author of Birthing Naturally

Who does one approach for pregnancy matters, asks Mahima Bakshi, who specialises in antenatal wellness. An expert’s advice and a guided support system help women take care of their emotional needs and physical changes. Bakshi, who is also trained in prenatal, perinatal, postnatal and lactation education, has worked at Apollo Cradle India, Fortis Escorts, Faridadabad, and Rainbow and Children’s Hospital, New Delhi. She conducts regular workshops on pre-conception, prenatal exercises, lactation and parenting.

Her book Birthing Naturally (Penguin) helps women prepare for natural birthing. “Staying fit is the key to have a less stressful pregnancy and labour,” she says. “I hope Birthing Naturally has everything a pregnant mom or dad- to-be should learn before the baby arrives,” she says.

For a happy pregnancy

Excerpts from an interview:

Preparing for childbirth

The preparation starts right from pre-conception. If you are overweight, shed some kilos. In case of any deficiencies, get them checked and corrected. If you are suffering from depression or stress that’s affecting sleep, see a counsellor. Fixing one’s lifestyle is the first step to get rid of the fear of childbirth.

The role of antenatal fitness

In earlier days, there were lesser complications as women followed a healthier lifestyle. Also, they married in their early 20s and hence there were no age-related risk factors. Poor lifestyle has made that difficult. It also puts moms at a higher risk of developing gestational hypertension and diabetes. Regular antenatal check-ups, proper scans and ultrasounds are important to keep track of the baby’s growth and development.

Antenatal classes help couples lead a healthier lifestyle not just for the baby but also for themselves. I strongly advise moms-to-be to take up an exercise routine under the supervision of an antenatal wellness experts. Core exercises are important too but one has to consider factors like bump size, the placenta position, and the cervical length. You have to approach an expert who understands the safety of these exercises. Any form of exercise should be avoided in high-risk pregnancies.

The intensity of exercises

It’s her pre-pregnancy fitness level that decides the intensity of workout during pregnancy. Also, her ultrasound reports to understand the precautions to be taken. A low lying placenta, short cervical length and multiple babies are generally high risk. She must get a green signal from her gynaecologist before starting any exercises.

Fitness advice for women with high-risk pregnancies

Listen to your body, and to your doctor. You need to take responsibility and not ignore any signs that you think could be alarming. No need to become a super woman. If you are advised bed rest, then follow it. If you are advised high-protein diet, follow it.

Dr. Gita Arjun

Chennai-based Obstetrician-gynaecologist and author of Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy ( English and Tamil)

When the first edition of this book came out it filled the lacuna of a pregnancy book written by an Indian obstetrician for Indian parents-to-be. Based on the reviews and response to the book, Dr. Gita brought out an updated second edition.

Worries in pregnancy arise due to the lack of knowledge or, worse still, due to misinformation, myths and misplaced beliefs. Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy helps a couple understand what causes complications, and occasional mishaps The book arms parents-to-be with correct facts, specific information and essential details, she says. Excerpts from an interview.

In an age of information overload, tell us how you compiled information for the book

For me it has always been extremely important that women get facts about their body and pregnancy that are reliable, and based squarely in current scientific knowledge. All the information in this book is from medical journals, books and practice guidelines. I have been a practising obstetrician for more than three decades and am also deeply involved in teaching both the lay public and the medical fraternity.

On the chapters in the book

Couples are now invested in their pregnancies. The book addresses issues unique to Indian parents. The chapter on week-by-week development of the pregnancy engrosses expecting mothers. So many couples prepare themselves for labour and delivery by reading the section devoted to that. Encompassing topics from pre-conceptional counselling to the care of the newborn, the book holds rare insights into the physical and emotional needs of both mother and child. The couple can get information even before they embark on their journey. Once the little one is home, they can look at the chapters that help deal with the newborn, including pictorial steps on bathing the baby. Importantly, contraceptive choices are explained clearly so that the couple can make the right decision. There are chapters on the proper diet and exercises and also on how to get back into shape after the baby is born. Couples are always confused whether something somebody has said to them is a fact or a myth. The old wives’ tales at the end of most chapters lays their fears to rest.

The book highlights the role of a husband

Every chapter emphasises the role of the father in the progress of labour. My decision to have husbands in the labour room (from 1981) is reflected in this book, where we make a strong point for involving him in every aspect of pregnancy, including labour and delivery. There is a whole chapter devoted to fathers-to-be.

Book recommendations

I am a bit of a parenting book addict and have an entire bookshelf full of them! My pick is Kiss Me! by the Spanish paediatrician Carloz Gonzalez. This is a deeply researched, wittily written and eminently readable book that makes a case for parenting “with love,” as opposed to what the book calls “fascist parenting”. Chock-full of anecdotes, studies and beautiful wit, Dr Gonzalez will mould the way you parent forever!

Himani Dalmia

Young mom and a Member of Breastfeeding Support for Indian moms (BSIM)

Gita Arjun’s book Passport to Pregnancy is the book I recommend. We don’t have many books by Indian authors on the topic. 50 Things To Do Before You Deliver by Jill Krause

Websites like gives weekly updates on the baby’s growth and about food during pregnancy

Dr. Shilpa Shah

founder of SWASTII, a lifestyle medicine and Naturopathy Clinic d

Dr. Gita Arjun’s Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy, as it comes from a learned person with a long-term experience. There are no unverified facts. You can take it as gospel. The information is ethical. The Google doctor talks about complications. Sometimes pregnant women accumulate the information and come to me looking for answers. Some of them contradict what I say. That is why in such a situation, I recommend a book, rather than Google.

Dr. Kannagi Uthamraj,

Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

KMCH Hospital