Most pre-pregnancy advice you will read is directed toward women; however, men have an important role in preparation too. Before you and your partner start trying to conceive, there are several important steps that the male partner should take to improve his fertility and increase his chances of fathering a healthy baby.
Preconception Checklist Area #1: General Health
A future dad’s first step should be to examine all aspects of his health. Now is the time to stop smoking, stop taking recreational drugs, stop any excessive consumption of alcohol, and lose those extra pounds. Also it’s a good idea for the future dad to have a complete checkup with his doctor to assess if there are any issues that need to be addressed before he starts trying to conceive. One special concern for men who are trying to conceive is maintaining healthy sperm. A prospective father should try to avoid tight-fitting briefs, frequent sessions in a sauna or hot tub, long bicycle rides, or any activity that could cause his testicles to become overheated, which could reduce the quantity or quality of his sperm.
Preconception Checklist Area #2: Lifestyle
The second area for the man to assess is his lifestyle. Does he work at a job in which he has regular exposure to lead, mercury, or any other hazardous substances? He should consult with his doctor to see if any of those elements could interfere with his sperm production. He should also evaluate his daily routines. Does he love to eat junk food? A healthier diet will improve the quality and quantity of his sperm. Does he tend to stay out late with his friends? Does he spend hours playing video games? He needs to start preparing for a time in the future when mom and baby will need him around more. It might also help for him to read some pregnancy books written for the dad-to-be to get some perspective on what lies ahead. Having a baby is a major lifestyle change, and the more prepared he can be, the better.
Preconception Checklist Area #3: Finances
Most men assume that they will continue working after there is a new baby in the house. But this is the time to be sure that he is able to be a stable primary breadwinner, especially if the couple decides that they want the mother-to-be to stay home or scale back on her work commitments. Will his contributions be enough to carry the costs of having a baby? Does he have a reasonable opportunity to take sick leave or vacation time if he needs them? Can he be available on short notice – primarily to be there for the baby’s birth, but also in the case of a child-care emergency? Does he have proper life and disability insurance coverage to care for his dependents if something happens to him? Will his work be able to provide health insurance for the new baby? It is important to have answers to these questions long before a baby arrives on the scene.
Of course, some couples jump right into baby-making and go on to provide perfectly stable, loving households for their children. But for the most part, the couples who carefully consider all of these issues before taking the plunge are the ones who are best prepared to provide a healthy environment for a child. By taking the time to make sure that they are ready to bring a child into their lives, they are able to spend more time enjoying their baby when he or she finally arrives.