Listen up, men: pre-pregnancy health and fertility isn't just a concern for women! If you and your partner are actively trying to get pregnant or are planning to get pregnant in the near future, there are steps you can -- and should -- take for the health of your child. Lamaze has teamed up with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to bring you helpful information as part of their "Show Your Love" campaign, which was created to improve the health of families by promoting preconception health and healthcare. For optimal fertility health, the CDC advises the following tips for men:
- Receiving STD screening and treatment, and using protection before and during pregnancy
- Stopping substance use and/or over-use and abuse, including smoking, street drugs, and alcohol
- Limiting exposure to toxic substances, like those found at the workplace (learn more about workplace hazards)
- Improving and addressing overall health, including age, weight, any preexisting disease, and medicines taken
- Knowing your family health and genetic history
- Seeking help for ongoing violence toward you or loved ones
- Maintaining good mental health, including ongoing treatment for mental health
Check out the CDC men's preconception health page for more in-depth details under each tip, including specific resources and downloads. It's important to talk with your doctor about all healthy fertility concerns. Your doctor can help with quitting smoking, changing lifestyle habits to lose weight, and addressing other health concerns that affect fertility.
As a childbirth educator, I'm a huge fan of plans and worksheets, which is why I also love the CDC's free Reproductive Life Plan worksheet that helps you plan for your future, whether you plan to have kids or not. The plan provides question prompts to help guide you through day-to-day and long-term life decisions. It's designed to use by yourself and with your partner.
Of course, working with, supporting, communicating, and encouraging your partner helps both of you in pre-conception health, so don't overlook that simple (but sometimes forgotten) strategy. Team up and work together to take steps to improve your health for yourselves and your child! You may also want to download the Show Your Love pre-pregnancy health app from the CDC. The app helps families navigate a healthy pathway to pregnancy, offering features to maintain a healthy lifestyle including:
- Daily tracking of behaviors
- Tips, tools and resources for healthy behaviors
- Helpful reminders for appointments, ovulation and taking medication
Pre-pregnancy health is a two-lane highway, for sure. While mom may be the one carrying baby, your health and lifestyle leading up to pregnancy can have a huge impact -- plan ahead to take charge of your health! Your body and baby will thank you for it.