We talk a lot about getting a woman’s body ready for pregnancy. But what about men? Dad’s health before pregnancy is important too. Here are a few things men can do if they are thinking about having a baby in the future.
Avoid toxic substances in your workplace and at home
If you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, it may be more difficult if you are exposed to the following substances:
- Metals (like mercury or lead)
- Products that contain lots of chemicals (like certain cleaning solutions, pesticides or gases)
- Radioactive waste, radiation or other dangerous substances (like drugs to treat cancer or X-rays)
Read more about how to protect yourself at work and at home here.
Get to a healthy weight
Obesity is associated with male infertility. And people who are overweight have a higher risk for conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and possibly some cancers.
A sexually transmitted disease (also called STD) is an infection that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected. You can get an STD from vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Many people with STDs don’t know they’re infected because some STDs have no symptoms. About 19 million people get an STD each year in the United States.
It is important to continue to protect yourself and your partner from STDs during pregnancy. STDs can be harmful to pregnant women and their babies and cause problems, such as premature birth, birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
Stop smoking, using street drugs, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
All of these behaviors are harmful to your health. Being around people who smoke is dangerous for pregnant women and babies. Being exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born with low birthweight.
Secondhand smoke is dangerous to your baby after birth. Babies who are around secondhand smoke are more likely than babies who aren’t to have health problems, like pneumonia, ear infections, asthma, and bronchitis. They’re also more likely to die of SIDS.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and using street drugs can negatively affect a man’s fertility.
Know your family’s health history
Your family health history is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in both of your families have had. It can help you find out about medical problems that run in your family that may affect your baby. Taking your family health history can help you make important health decisions. Knowing about health conditions before or early in pregnancy can help you and your health care provider decide on treatments and care for your baby.
Be supportive of your partner
Help your partner. If she is trying to quit smoking, make sure you support her efforts—and join her if you need to quit too! If she has a medical condition, encourage her to see her doctor.
Even before pregnancy, dads play an important role in their baby’s lives, so make sure you are planning for the future too.
Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.