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‘Is It a Girl or a Boy?’: This Doctor’s Small Step Is Changing How Many Families Think About Daughters

The first thing that most patients would ask Dr Nandini Mohta was the baby's sex. So she started a practice that is changing the way many Indian families think about the birth of a girl child.

‘Is It a Girl or a Boy?’: This Doctor’s Small Step Is Changing How Many Families Think About Daughters

“Is it a boy or a girl” would be the most common question asked to Dr Nandini Mohta when she came out of a delivery room. 

“They would be more concerned about the sex of the baby rather than its health,” she says. 

Dr Nandini works at GMC Kolhapur, where a minimum of 20 vaginal (natural) deliveries take place in 24 hours. Getting to talk to several mothers in the labour room, she recalls, the first thing they would ask is if the baby is a boy. 

“We might think that we have moved forward from gender bias as a country, but this illusion breaks into shards when a new mother starts crying the minute I tell her it’s a girl,” the doctor says. 

Recalling various instances where mothers reacted in an extreme manner, she says, “In another instance, the newborn girl’s grandmother refused to accept the child and left her on the bench outside the labour room.”

Seeing people react in such a way would always leave the doctor disappointed. She decided to do something about it. 

“Every time I went and handed over a baby girl to their relatives, I would smile and say, ‘Maushi, Lakshmi aali, mala mithai pahije’ (Aunty, Goddess Lakshmi has come to your home, you must give me sweets today!),” she says. 

The smiles would be faint but the families would promise her sweets. This made Dr Nandini realise how doctors hold the power to influence people and bring about change, not just with their knowledge of medicine but also with their words. She has since used positive words and affirmations regarding the female gender while addressing her patients to change their mindsets.

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)

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