Healthy Tips for the Dad-to-Be

Simple ways fathers can make things easier on moms.

Keep stress to a minimum. A number of studies have suggested that high levels of stress may increase a woman's risk of preterm labor and a low birth weight baby. Pregnancy-related discomforts (such as nausea), financial concerns, and worries about the health of the unborn baby can be common stressors for parents. An understanding and supportive attitude from fathers can make a big difference in their partner's stress level in these areas.

Promote good nutrition. If you pass up junk food in favor of healthier choices, this makes it easier for your pregnant partner to eat a well-balanced diet. Pregnant women should include a variety of nutritious foods in their diet to boost their unborn child's normal growth and development.

Exercise together. Exercise reduces stress and provides health benefits for both of you. For the mother, exercise also helps relieve pregnancy discomforts such as backache, constipation, and fatigue. Good choices include walking and swimming, which are safe options for most pregnant women. (A pregnant woman should always check with her healthcare provider before beginning or continuing an exercise program.)

Help around the house. Take on those strenuous household chores, and any that involve aerosol sprays and cleaning fluids. Some of these products may contain solvents or other chemicals that may be harmful to the mother and baby. And if there's a cat in the house, dads should also change the litter box. Cat feces may carry an infection called toxoplasmosis, which, if contracted by a pregnant woman, can cause birth defects in the fetus.

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