Author Rakhi Kapoor receives the Sharadiya Utkal Samman 2024 for ” The Book in the most Important Topic”.

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Rakhi Kapoor is an acclaimed author known for her poignant narratives that delve into the complexities of human emotions and relationships. Her writing style combines empathy with a keen observation of everyday life, making her work resonate deeply with readers. Kapoor’s third  book, ” Expecting Daddy Delivers: Be the man your partner and the baby adore,” has received widespread acclaim for its honest portrayal of fatherhood during pregnancy, challenging traditional stereotypes and shedding light on the often overlooked experiences of expectant fathers.

Kapoor’s exploration of the father’s perspective in pregnancy has earned her the prestigious Utkal Sharadiya Samman in the category of “Most Important Topic of the Decade.” Her ability to capture the emotional nuances and practical challenges faced by fathers-to-be has sparked meaningful conversations about gender roles, empathy, and support within families.

 

  1. Congratulations on receiving the Utkal Sharadiya Samman for ” Expecting Daddy Delivers”! What inspired you to write this book and explore the topic of fatherhood during pregnancy?

Ans: Most often one’s destiny lies in the path they avoid. During my first  pregnancy which was almost twenty fours ago my obstetrician suggested that I should start the concept of prenatal counselling which was a concept unheard of then in  India. I was qualified for it. I had a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from the leading institution in the country named N.I.O.H located in Kolkata, the city which was known as Calcutta then. Along with the qualification I was adept with handling my pregnancy with ease against all the challenges. I worked almost ten hours a day, yet managed to stay fit, take care of my diet and yet remain cheerful. The usual physiological changes of pregnancy like aches and pains , fatigue, gastric issues, mood swings did not throw me off balance. My obstetrician then Dr. Jaishree Gajaraj who was the president of the Royal council of obstetrics and gynaecology , Tamil Nadu Chapter was impressed with the way I was handling my pregnancy. She wished that i should share this treasure of knowledge with other expecting women in the country especially when there was less support and awareness for women in those times at such a crucial phase of their lives.

I did not take heed to this suggestion saying after having a baby where would i have the energy to start a novice and revolutionary concept as this in the country. Destiny forced its hand. I ran into unforeseen complications during my childbirth which was nearly life threatening. When I got a second chance to live I gathered that I owed it to the universe to offer gratitude by making a difference and providing support to other expecting women in my country. I then pioneered the concept of prenatal counselling and started counselling sessions in Chennai in 2001. Initially I had dwindling numbers of hopeful expecting women and confused spouse and family members reluctantly accompanying the expecting women for my sessions. Then as the expecting women began to have a happy and healthy pregnancy with reduced mood swings and postnatal depression, the lifestyle disorders like gestational diabetes in them were controlled, the rate of natural births shot up, women got back on their feet swiftly and resumed their professional life back as new moms ; garnering accolades and success for my sessions I established my centre called Dwi Maternity Studio in 2006. www.dwimaternitystudio.com

I have had a wonderful professional journey so far in prenatal counselling bringing cheers and marital bliss in many families. I decided to take it to the next level of reaching out to people beyond the confines of my physical vicinity. Books were the way to reach out to the whole country and beyond. Hence I wrote my first book on pregnancy called Deliver with Delight( Ten steps to having a happy and healthy pregnancy).

Having completed the whole manuscript I pondered as to how I could make an even massive impact ? What was the point in writing another book on pregnancy and adding to the knowledge gathering task for an expecting woman? Hence I ripped the manuscript apart figuratively, took another year and rewrote a book for an expecting man titled Expecting Daddy Delivers. A woman is not an independent entity responsible for conception and nurturing of life. I wanted to gather actionable support for her and who was the next best candidate for this but the father to be. Hence the book came into being. Deliver with Delight was published in the later years.

2.Could you share with us some of the personal stories or experiences that influenced your writing of ” Expecting Daddy Delivers”?

Ans: There are countless stories but let me share two of them. One was that an expecting dad cried aloud like a baby in one of my sessions because he was having nightmares about childbirth. While his spouse was surprised, other men and women in the session mocked him and  laughed at him.  Honestly I was also taken by surprise and didn’t know how to handle the situation.I then realised how the pressure of being manly in this world forces men to subdue their emotions and true feelings. Here was a man who was scared for his partner, empathised with his pain, worried for his baby and felt helpless that he was not going to be able to help. This made me understand a man’s point of view about labour pains. Even if he was not going to experience labour pains he was not insensitive towards it. Most men didn’t know how to deal with it and help their partners.

Another hilarious but deeply insightful incident was when an expecting woman literally slapped her spouse during a session when I was sharing  insightful advice about a pregnant woman’s diet. This expecting dad would wake up every morning, squeeze a glass of fresh orange juice and force it down the gullet of his pregnant wife. She would end up throwing up, suffering with gastric issues, heart burns and suffering the whole day. This was going on for months together. Apparently the father to be, read somewhere that consuming fruits were healthy for a  pregnant woman and her foetus hence he was trying to get his wife to have it in the form of a juice which miserably back fired. Citrus fruits on an empty stomach only aggravate acid reflux in pregnancy. I realised that men were trying desperately with whatever information they had to support their partner during the pregnancy without any proper guidance. Reason being in India we never sensitised or informed the men about a pregnant woman’s needs. A pregnant woman would be sent away to live in her mother’s home during most of the months of the pregnancy and after.  Men were never allowed in the labour rooms so how would they know and empathise with their spouse about the cumbersome and challenging process of childbirth? So where was a man  getting any insights about pregnancy and fatherhood? Hence I wanted the book Expecting Daddy Delivers to deliver information, guidance, support for an expecting father so that he could be his knight in shining armour to his partner and become the world’s greatest dad on whose shoulder his new born would sleep snuggly knowing he or she is safe.

 

 

3.Your book challenges traditional perceptions of fatherhood. What do you hope readers, especially expectant fathers, will take away from your work?

Ans : The biggest traditional perception about fatherhood rather than manhood is that men cannot feel weak or vulnerable. Men are always supposed to put up a brave face and have things under control. As much as pregnancy and having a family is a challenging path  for a woman it is not easy for a man either. He is also staggering to get a grip of his emotions and responsibilities. He worries for his woman, the discomforts she goes through during the pregnancy,  he constantly wants to know if the baby is healthy in the mother’s womb and that everything will be smooth during childbirth. He strives to be a good partner and a responsible father. He also experiences confusion because his partner isn’t available for his emotional support tending to her and her newborn baby’s needs. Intimacy issues , financial competency to support a family yet the pressure of getting quality time for his family gets him under duress. Who does a man go to and where does he go to get his head clear. To the world a man supposed to have it all under control.  The expectant fathers will learn not only how to take care of their partners but their needs as well through this book.

4.In ” Expecting Daddy Delivers,” you discuss the emotional and practical support fathers can provide during pregnancy. How important do you think it is for fathers to actively participate in this journey?

Ans: Every couple prays to have a healthy baby. Everybody emphasises on the diet, rest and physical aspect of nurturing in pregnancy. Very few realise the significance of emotional nurturing and mental health of a pregnant woman and its impact on the health of the baby. The lack of emotional support, the changing body during the pregnancy, the increased workload for a woman , balancing her career and home, battling fatigue aches and pains, dealing with   the mood swings, postnatal blues  and anxiety about childbirth. The expecting mother needs more rest and support in her daily chores and responsibilities during pregnancy and after. Who could provide that besides the partner and the father of the child considering that the nuclear family system has become more prolific than the joint family system in Indian society. So who will compensate for the support of numerous other family members like grandparents and extended family. Especially in todays’ times with women having full time jobs and supporting the couple’s finances and earning. It is important to get through this together as a couple rather than two individuals struggling with their individual journeys. That’s the whole purpose of having a family right? Taking the relationship, marriage to the next level of togetherness and bonding. The absentee partner that is the father in the role of the  pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal phase is seen as negligence, insensitivity, and lovelessness in the pregnant woman. This has a negative impact on the couples relationship leading to chances of divorces, relationship issues, and broken families which leaves individuals traumatised.

5.Your writing has been praised for its empathy and authenticity. How did you ensure that your portrayal of fatherhood resonated with a diverse range of readers?

Ans : My experience as a prenatal counsellor has gathered its learning over a wide spectrum of expecting dads from various cultural backgrounds, social diaspora, diverse economical status, expecting dads from various countries across the globe, men with varying professions. I come in with an attitude of empathy and understanding of a man’s or human beings genuine needs rather than judgement. My intention is to give my expecting clients an authentic and empowering experience of pregnancy , childbirth and parenthood hence when the vision is clear my mission remains congruent to the vision. I regularly get informed to upgrade my skills to stay on top. I am always open to the expecting dads to have conversations and express themselves freely by involving them in the sessions,  communicating their needs for themselves alongside working towards attaining their couple goals as well.

6.Receiving the Utkal Sharadiya Samman must be a significant achievement for you. How do you feel this recognition will impact your future writing projects?

Ans  I am extremely grateful and honoured to receive this prestigious award. Recognitions and awards of this calibre helps in my mission to spread more awareness for my cause. Such esteemed recognition helps me penetrate through the rigid mindsets of the people in Indian society and their extreme traditional ways. It helps widen and strengthen my circle of influence. When words spoken by an author whose books are recognised with such prestigious awards, the society and readers then take it seriously. Only then creating an impact and bringing social change is possible.

7.What advice would you give to aspiring authors who wish to write about sensitive topics like fatherhood and family dynamics?

Ans I would request authors to amalgamate their learnings and professional qualifications with empathy, respect for the traditional views , and understanding of the needs of the millennials in order to write books on such sensitive topics. The intent to create an impact and bring about a change has to be the driving force while addressing any sensitive topic.  Peace above all. Harmony , love, strengthening of bonds and inclusion is important. Rephrasing the essence of the Gautam Buddha which is taking the Middle Path to living Blissfully for one self and the whole of humanity.

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