In Pregnancy, Dad’s Body Counts, Too

You know a pregnant woman has to take care of her body in order to have a good pregnancy and increase the odds of a healthy baby—that means getting moderate exercise; eating wisely; and abstaining from alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other harmful substances.

But pregnancy is also an excellent time for Dad to pay attention to his own health. Improving your physical and mental condition will improve your energy, focus, and stamina, which are important resources for the rest of this pregnancy and beyond.

Physical activity brings concrete benefits to your body and spirit. The new demands of expecting (and, eventually, parenting) may translate into less time on the bike or basketball court, but don't give up on it altogether. Being active is more effective (and much better for your health) than alternatives like tobacco and alcohol. In addition to helping to relieve stress, exercise keeps you in better touch with your body.

When it comes to nutrition, think of this common computer programmer saying: garbage in, garbage out. Eating healthy improves your health and longevity. In addition to the personal benefits, your child will enjoy you more if you’re in good health and live longer!

It can also save your relationship with your partner, especially if she has to follow special nutritional guidelines during pregnancy. You're going to look (and be) rather rude eating a banana split while she works through a spinach salad. Would you resent that behavior if the kitchen tables were turned? Remember that neither one of you is a saint, so support—and join in with—the meals she needs to keep the pregnancy on track.

Like exercise, good nutrition also strengthens your connection to your body. Why the focus on staying attuned to your body? During pregnancy, your partner invests a lot of energy and focus on tracking what's happening in (and to) her body. If you invest a bit in your own body, you increase your ability to empathize with and support her. That investment also sharpens you thinking, making you a better observer and problem solver.

Adapted from Idiot's Guides: Pregnancy for Dads by Joe Kelly, copyright 2014 Alpha Books and used by permission.

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