Becoming a dad

As a dad, you're the most important man in your baby's life. Being a dad begins even before your baby is born. The things you do to keep you and your partner healthy before and during pregnancy can help your baby be born healthy and strong. 

In this topic, find out how you can be involved in your partner’s pregnancy. Eat healthy meals together and do something active every day. Help her stay healthy by not smoking, drinking alcohol or abusing drugs. And don’t do these things around her. 

There’s a lot going on in your partner’s pregnant body. Understand if she’s moody or cranky. Help her feel better, especially when she’s tired or uncomfortable. 

Learn about pregnancy and childbirth, and go with your partner to her prenatal care checkups. Get to know her health care provider and ask all your questions about pregnancy and your growing baby. Learn the signs of preterm labor so you know what to do if labor starts early.   


Most common questions

Can dad's exposure to chemicals harm his future kids?

Dad's exposure to harmful chemicals and substances before conception or during his partner's pregnancy can affect his children. Harmful exposures can include drugs (prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs), alcohol, cigarettes, cigarette smoke, chemotherapy and radiation. They also include exposure to lead, mercury and pesticides.


Unlike mom's exposures, dad's exposures do not appear to cause birth defects. They can, however, damage a man's sperm quality, causing fertility problems and miscarriage. Some exposures may cause genetic changes in sperm that may increase the risk of childhood cancer. Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, can seriously alter sperm, at least for a few months post treatment. Some men choose to bank their sperm to preserve its integrity before they receive treatment. If you have a question about a specific exposure, contact the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists at www.otispregnancy.org.


Do I need a birth plan?

You don't have to have a birth plan. But having one is a great idea! A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby's birth. It tells your provider how you feel about things like who you want with you during labor, what you want to do during labor, if you want drugs to help with labor pain, and if there are special religious or cultural practices you want to have happen once your baby is born. Fill out a birth plan with your partner. Then share it with your provider and with the nurses at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. Share it with your family and other support people, too. It's best for everyone to know ahead of time how you want labor and birth to be.

Is it safe to have sex during pregnancy?

For most women, yes. Unless your health care provider advises you otherwise, sex during pregnancy is safe for you and your baby. Some circumstances make sex during pregnancy unsafe. Pregnant women who have any of these health complications should talk to their provider before having sex:

Usually, a woman can continue sexual activity during pregnancy as long as she feels comfortable. Talk to your health care provider about any specific questions.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).