How to Have a Baby by Dr Aniruddha Malpani MD and Dr Anjali Malpani MD flash animated web comic 237 pages

The way that people read and absorb information has changed over the past few decades, due to our exposure to complex visual media such as videogames, movies and the internet. Comics could play a key role in making sophisticated information appealing to literate, information-devouring, young (and not so young) adults.

This free, web based, flash animated comic book has high ambitions: mixing the accessibilty of the graphic medium with in-depth information on reproductive physiology and technological help available to couples. The Doctors run the Malpani infertility Clinic in Bombay / Mumbai, treating patients from around the world. Their stated philosophy, that "patients should become experts on their medical problems" is no mere soundbite and to that end, rather than printing and selling this detailed guide, they have put the whole volume online, (all 237 pages of it ! ) in a handy flash-based format with realistic page turning features. Dr Aniruddha Malpani is an IVF specialist who believes in information therapy and also runs the world's largest free patient education library, H.E.L.P. 

I am rather gobsmacked by the breadth of this volume. It is aimed at couples experiencing infertility problems, but could equally be valuable as an accessible primer for undergraduates or handy reference for the non specialist. The two Drs Malpani, appearing in cartoon form, talk us through 55 chapters. The breakdowns include medical illustrations as well as photographs of tests and procedures. They begin with "when to start worrying" about not conceiving, and cover general sex advice before delving into questions of declining fertility in modern times and the difficulties of sex education. Male and female reproductive anatomy and physiology is dealt with in detail before discussion of what to expect in consulting an infertility doctor. Extensive explanation of tests available and possible treatments follow, as well as chapters on specific problems such as PCOD and endometriosis. Ethical questions and the psychological dimension are covered too.

The graphic style is "manga-esque" to begin with, becoming more like a graphic textbook later on, with less cartooning and more medical illustration. The participating characters are not obviously of any particular race or cultural group and the book seems to be aimed at a univeral audience. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about human reproduction and the problems encountered in trying to have a baby.


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