Posts Tagged ‘father’

Preconception health for dads

Friday, February 12th, 2016

becoming a dadWe 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.

Prevent STDs

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.

A father’s role in the NICU

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

NICU dadYour beautiful baby has arrived. But he or she was born prematurely or is sick, and needs special care. Your joy over your baby’s birth may be mixed with worry and heartache. This is not how you expected fatherhood to begin.

The birth of a premature or sick baby is stressful and difficult for all family members. But it can be especially rough on you. You may worry about your baby and your partner, as well as other children at home, demands from your job and financial concerns. While each father develops his own way of coping with the birth of a premature or sick infant, this information may help make this difficult time a bit easier.

You may feel many conflicting emotions after your baby is born. These emotions, from anxiety and fear to anger and resentment, love and pride, helplessness and hope, can be very intense. All of the feelings are normal and most men experience some of them. As your baby gets stronger, your negative feelings may lessen. Expect this to be an emotional roller coaster ride for a while.

Keep in mind that the birth of a sick child can put stress on the relationship between you and your partner, as well as your relationships with other family members. It’s important to share your feelings with your partner through your baby’s illness, so that you can support each other and come through this experience a stronger team.

Read more about keeping your relationship strong, ways to help your partner and your baby, how to let others help you and how to take care of yourself in our article for dads. Being a NICU dad can be difficult, especially if your baby is very sick. You should take pride in all the things you do to help your baby and your partner, and realize that you are making a difference.

Fathers – thanks you guys

Friday, June 14th, 2013

dad-with-sonWhen your child is tired, do you carry him? When she skins her knee, do you kiss the booboo and make it better? Do you play “up in the air” or rock them if they’re colicky? Do you worry when they’re sick? Do you change their diapers when they’re really ripe? Do you make an emergency diaper run when you’re suddenly down to your last two?

Can’t cook? No problem. Do you let your little ones climb up in your lap to share a bowl of ice cream with you? Who wouldn’t love that?

Reading not your thing? No problem. Do you flop down on your child’s bed and make up stories? I’ll never forget my father doing that. laughing-baby

Not an outdoorsy kind of person? No problem. Do you lie in the grass some times and point to the fluffy cloud that looks like a giraffe… “Can you see it?” Or look at the stars at night and sing “Twinkle, twinkle” to your little one?

bike-lessonsCan’t throw a ball? No problem. Do you tell your children “I love to watch you play?” Can you help them ride a bike? It means the world to them.

Are your children a little older? Can’t figure out the “new math” or the computer programs? No problem. Do you ask them to explain it to you? Our grandkids are light years ahead of us and they love explaining to Grandpa how things work. He turns to me and asks, “Were we ever half that smart?”

You don’t need to be brilliant or an athlete or a movie star. If you show them you love them, you’ll always be a superhero to your children.hero

Becoming a brand new dad

Friday, June 18th, 2010

first-fathers-day1Today’s guest post is from a friend and colleague in our IT department who just became a dad last month.  Happy Father’s Day!

So, fatherhood…

I’d certainly been told what to expect, of course, from sources far and wide.  I’d come to the conclusion that anyone who ever said they were ready to become parents for the first time was, frankly, full of it, and that a state of mild panic was perfectly appropriate.  So for a span of about six months I proceeded to quietly panic.  Painting the nursery with a faint sense of dread.  Buying a crib set while chewing off my fingernails.  It all came down to maintaining a calm exterior while my insides were slowly spinning down into themselves like a sink with a slow drain.

All of this lasted right up until it was, for a lack of a better term, go time.

I have to admit that working for March of Dimes was a blessing and a bit unnerving at the same time.  My wife was in a higher risk category for complications during pregnancy due to a thyroid condition and the fact that she had gone through IVF in order to conceive.  I knew all about vitamins, folic acid, proper prenatal checkups, all of these things that form so much of our core message, but I also knew full well everything that could go wrong.

I’m a worrier by nature.  As we went to our regular checkups everything was fine, which helped a little.  My wife was of course taking everything in stride, as she usually does.  I found new worries to dwell on as the medical situation looked better and better – was I going to be a good father?  How are we going to pay for college when credit hours will be six million dollars each by 2030?  Is she going to have to come home on weekends to reset my trans-dimensional flux conditioner so it stops blinking “12:00” all the time?!

But the months passed and I actually found myself growing calmer and more focused on the things that needed to be done.  I picked up the necessary supplies, we made all our arrangements to have my family fly in around the due date, got the nursery prepped and ready.  And we made it to the due date without any problems.

And then she was here, and wow.  I’m not going to bother with all the clichés about the beauty of birth and all that, because I’m squeamish when it comes to blood.  But once they had checked her out and everything looked good, I had a moment of real relief.  We’d made it this far, and we had a healthy, screaming 7 pound 11 ounce daughter. 

Since that point, it has been a little strange getting used to the overall mechanics of fatherhood.  Diapers seem to be solely my department.  She is endlessly fascinated by her own feet.  Well let’s be fair, I find her feet pretty fascinating too.  Learning how to properly feed has been interesting, and I’m not sure my Led Zeppelin shirt will ever be the same again.  I’ve also learned that that first cry is practically an air-raid siren telling you that you need to get that bottle warming, and get it warming NOW.  Otherwise those cries will escalate to the point where her legs are shaking and she sounds like an upset donkey.  And heaven help you if THAT happens.

But when I hold her, all of the little worries just go away.  She makes funny faces, she grabs my beard, squeezes a finger and it’s all worthwhile.  Snuggle time has become the best part of my day, and I expect it will be for a very, very long time.

Let’s keep Dad around

Monday, June 14th, 2010

father-and-sonMonday usually is Mom day at NMN, but today, it’s all about Dads.  This is National Men’s Health Week.  These guys do a lot for the kids, the family, the home and deserve a little attention. 

My own father died a number of years ago, but he left me with lots of fond memories.  I’m lucky that my husband is a Mr. Fixit and he can repair just about anything in my house.  Picking up his socks or magazines – not so much.  When life seems like unbridled chaos, he somehow manages to help me find a calm space in the storm.  When the kids were growing up, he made hilarious and quite inventive Halloween costumes for them. He went to parent teacher conferences.  He held their hands when they were sick – he has held my hand, too, when I was very sick.  He is out of town this week and I miss him.  Don’t get me wrong, I love eating cereal for dinner and watching “chick flicks” until the wee hours, but he adds a great deal to my life, our lives, and I sometimes notice it most when he’s not here. I want to help keep him healthy so he’ll be around for many more years to come.

I recently found this great website for men’s health by the CDC.   It lists all kinds of things boys and men need to consider to stay healthy.  Check it out… and have a great Father’s Day this weekend.

Colic in babies linked to depression in dads

Friday, July 10th, 2009

colic-baby-and-dadAccording to my mother in law, my husband was quite a crier as a newborn. She says that the only one who could comfort my colic hubby was his dad. I’m glad my father in law was able to soothe his crying baby. But since my hubby and I plan on having a baby one day, I hope our little one doesn’t have colic like her dad once did! Even though lots of babies may have colic, researchers still aren’t totally sure why some babies have it, and others don’t. Some babies may cry a lot because of gas or allergic reactions, but others have colic for no clear reason.

Interestingly, a large study from the Netherlands found that dads who were depressed during their baby’s time in the womb were more likely to have babies with colic. In the past, studies have found a link between mothers with depression during pregnancy and newborns with colic. But this is one of the first studies to see if there’s a relationship between a dad’s depression and his colic baby.

The study, published in this month’s Pediatrics journal, shows that the researchers made sure to find out if dads were depressed before the baby was born. This way, the researchers would know that dad’s depression wasn’t caused by baby’s excessive crying.  But it did show that if a dad was depressed before the baby was born, he was more likely to have a baby with colic. The researchers aren’t sure exactly why this is, but it’s interesting that there’s a relationship.

How did you manage a colic baby?

Paternal exposures – can they harm a future baby?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

man-paintingYes, some can. A paternal exposure is something the father of a baby is exposed to before conception or during his partner’s pregnancy.  These exposures include drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs), alcohol, cigarettes, chemotherapy, radiation.  Chemical products at work or in the environment, such as lead, organic solvents and pesticides, also fit into this category.

Unlike maternal exposures (read Things to Avoid),  paternal exposures do not appear to cause birth defects, according to current studies, but more research is needed in this area.  Some paternal exposures, however, can damage a man’s sperm quality, causing infertility or lengthy delay in conception or early pregnancy loss.  Research indicates that some exposures may cause genetic changes in sperm that might increase the risk of childhood cancer in a man’s children.

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can seriously alter sperm, at least for a few months post treatment.  Some men opt to bank their sperm before they receive treatment to preserve its integrity.

Again, further research into to the field of paternal exposures is needed to fully understand the risks associated with them.

10 ways Hubby can be a hero to his pregnant wife

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

heroYou might want to ask that wonderful spouse of yours if he would be willing to:

1 – Clean the toilet.  If you are doomed to hurl your meals into the porcelain throne for a couple of months, it helps a lot to have it clean.

2 – Honor your path to the potty (no shoes, clothes, magazines in the way) so you can make it there and back in the dark without tripping.

3 – Perfect the art of foot massage.  Need I say more?

4 – Clean and vacuum all the stuff from your car, making your transit tranquil.

5 – Keep the kitty litter tidy.  This is not only a kind thing to do, but it’s a safety precaution, too.  It keeps you away from exposure to a parasite that can give toxoplasmosis, an infection that might possibly harm a developing baby.

5 – Upload daily pregnancy tips to your cell phone via Twitter.

6 – Fold the laundry and put it away, leaving the bed clear for the ever needed nap.

7 – Take the new car seat to the police department to make sure it is installed properly.

8 – Cook or bring home dinner a couple of times a week.

9 – Compile a play list of relaxing music on your ipod.

10 – Promise you he won’t take it personally when you launch into a hellacious hormonal harangue.

Aging sperm may impact offspring’s cognitive skills

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

thinkingA new study out of the Queensland Brain Institute in Brisbane, Australia suggests there may be a subtle decline in cognitive skills (intellectual activity as opposed to emotional response) among children whose fathers were near the age of 50 or older at the time of conception. 

A review of over 33,000 children was undertaken at ages 8 months, 4 years and 7 years.  Regardless of the mother’s age at conception, children whose fathers were 50 or older had slightly lower scores on all tests (concentration, memory, thinking, reasoning, reading, as well as motor tests).  The findings were broadly consistent at all three ages.  In contrast, advanced age of the mother was generally associated with better scores, using the same measures.

Other studies have suggested an association between paternal age and both autism and schizophrenia.  A large Swedish study at the Karolinska Institute (published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Sept. 2008) studied Swedish national registries for cases of bipolar disorder.  They found, although small, a statistically increased risk of bipolar disorder in offspring as the fathers aged. (Findings applied to adult offspring only, not children.) The authors offered a possible biological explanation. Unlike women who are born with a complete supply of eggs that do not replicate, men are constantly replicating sperm.  The older a man is, the more often his sperm cells have replicated, and the more replications, the greater the chance for random DNA copying errors to occur.  While this is one interesting study, it is important to note that bipolar disorder is rare in any age group and that in the overall population, the vast majority of children of fathers of any age will not get bipolar disorder.

These are only two studies and much further research needs to be done to confirm any of these findings.

Partnering with the future dad

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

pregnant-coupleBecoming a dad can be exciting and confusing.  Both of you will be going through new territory when you’re pregnant.  Ask your partner to go with you to your prenatal care visits when the time comes.  It will help him learn a lot and will help the two of you, and your health care provider, become a strong team.

If he seems a bit shy about this, let him know that during the prenatal visit at the end of the first trimester, he will be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat.  Way cool!  During the second trimester, you probably will have an ultrasound test to take a look at the baby.  You’ll both be able to see your baby’s head, arms, hands, legs and feet.  Hello in there!  You might even find out the sex of the baby if you want to. In the third trimester, he will be able to help formulate a plan with you and your health care provider about the best way he can help during labor and delivery.

Talk about it now.  Get him involved from the get go.