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Dad's actions and health affect the baby, too

Deborah Cruz-Beck is a SheKnows parenting expert and blogger at The TRUTH About Motherhood, which she calls a place of "humor, support, honesty and integrity." Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Everything he does during the pregnancy affects the health of the mother and in turn their unborn child.

excited future father with pregnant woman

Photo credit: StA-gur Karlsson/Vetta/Getty Images

Did you ever consider that what your partner does while you're pregnant could adversely affect the health of your baby? Probably not, right? I mean we all joke that men put on pregnancy weight, and we all get just a little perturbed when men say "We're pregnant." Because, hello, until you have the hemorrhoids and stretch marks to show for it, no, we are not pregnant. I am pregnant. You are my trusty sidekick who gets to bring me boxes of cupcakes when I have an insatiable craving at midnight. Well... we might have been wrong. We might be pregnant, after all.

Everything an expectant mom does, ingests and subjects herself to can have an immediate and long-lasting effect on the life of her unborn child. This is common sense and we all know this. This is why we don't eat soft cheeses and we give up sushi and roller coasters, water slides and hot tubs, because we love our babies. But how does daddy's lifestyle affect his unborn child? How does his relationship with his unborn baby weigh in? Does it? Yep, it sure does.

Studies have shown that while mom's behavior contributes more to her child's health during those first 40 weeks of gestation... men aren't completely off the hook. Preterm babies and those with low birth weights could have a direct correlation with how old dad was at the time of conception and whether or not he, himself, was a preemie or had a low birth weight. Like father, like son?

Of course, there is an entire set of paternal factors that no one has even bothered to consider; was daddy-to-be excited or disappointed by the pregnancy (Close your mouths, it happens. Sometimes there is an element of shock and awe involved.), how was his behavior during the pregnancy and how stable was the relationship with mommy during the pregnancy? Dad's negative behavior or the stress of a failing relationship could definitely have adverse effects on the expectant mom and the unborn baby. Stress kills, people. It makes sense that it would cause pregnancy complications.

If mom-to-be is too stressed out by an emotionally wrecked partner or someone who doesn't want to be there, that can affect how well she takes care of herself. If she feels that he doesn't want the baby or isn't excited about the pregnancy, she could give up and just avoid prenatal care. Yeah, it's stupid, but it happens. If she's pregnant, alone and not in her right state of mind, she might subconsciously sabotage the pregnancy. It's hard to be healthy when your support system is breaking down.

Basically, a happy mommy equals a healthy mom and baby. A stable relationship/support system and a partner who shares in the joy of the impending birth can make for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Sure, as women we might do all the grunt work like growing and delivering the baby, but we really are pregnant because a baby changes everything for both parents involved, and partners affect one another. We don't live in a bubble. So next time you hear a man say "we’re pregnant," smile at him and know you are looking at a highly attentive and evolved man, who probably has a well-taken-care-of and happy partner and fetus.

The point is that a man's job in pregnancy is not done after intercourse and ejaculation. Everything he does during the pregnancy, from his own emotional stability, to what he eats, and how enthusiastic he is about the pregnancy and whether or not he is physically around, all affect the health of the mother and in turn their unborn child.

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