BY MICHELLE PERRO, MD
There are many ways to become a dad! Whether a person gets there through adoption, traditional conception, or newer modes of conception through assisted reproductive technologies, these journeys all lead to the same place: fatherhood.
If you’re a father-to-be, it’s important to know that you play an important role in the health of your developing child – and in the health of your entire family! Every change that moves you towards a healthier lifestyle matters.
If you’re hoping to become a father by biologically conceiving, remember, there is a 50 percent genetic donation from dad to future generations. Plus, sperm quality can actually be modified, meaning some changes could enhance sperm quality. There are many factors that can affect the quality and quantity of sperm count. An improvement in Dad’s overall health benefits more than just sperm, so it is important as the family grows.
Read on for tips on how to start fatherhood off on the right foot.
Dos & Don’ts for Dads-to-Be:
1 Avoid Pesticides in Food
Organic food may cost more, but I believe it’s worth the cost for health benefits and reduced ingestion of harmful chemicals, if it’s available to you. However, if you can’t go organic, avoid the most heavily sprayed crops (berries, many fruits, leafy greens, potatoes, celery), wash fruits and veggies thoroughly, and buy produce with skins that can be peeled.
2 Avoid Pesticides at Home
Pesticides applied at home are a common occurrence and often not utilized with appropriate personal protection. They can drift, get into water supplies, and into your pet’s paws! Try organic pesticides if needed, but better yet, improve the health of your soil with organic mulch!
3 Know Your Pesticide Exposure Outside the Home
Places like golf courses, public parks and fields, disc golf courses, and other recreation areas can all use pesticides. For example, golf courses utilize more pesticides than farmland! That means they can be dangerous for not only dads but kids as well. If you’re hoping to become a father by conceiving, one thing to know is that high pesticide exposure has been linked to decreased sperm count and abnormal shape of sperm. Paternal exposure to pesticides has been linked to childhood leukemia so avoidance is the best choice.
4 Remember You Are What You Eat
Eat a clean diet of whole, unprocessed, and organic food, if possible. And don’t forget to bring it to work. Planning ahead by packing healthy food for lunches and other outings is an added bonus for your wallet. Share your knowledge (and savings) with co-workers!
5 Commute Better
Commuting has been called “the stress that doesn’t pay.” Going forward after COVID-19, our work lives may be altered and invite more opportunity to regularly work from home. When commuting is a must, studies have shown that commuting by walking, bike or public transport produced more happiness than commuting by car.
6 Protect and Limit EMF Exposure
Everyone likes fast internet, but there is a cost for convenience. The push for 5G is not just a simple upgrade from 4G. There are significant health concerns, particularly in regards to fertility. Limit wireless exposure, wire your home instead of depending on Wi-Fi, use shielding devices, and use headsets instead of placing the cell phone to your ear. Become an informed dad-to-be!
7 Prepare Mentally
Accept advice, help, and support from family and friends. This is not the time for rugged individualism or the belief you can’t accept help, but for collaboration, especially with your partner (and family members).
8 Clean Up Your Health
The pre-pregnancy period is a great time to get your check up! Have your physician review your overall health including your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood work (include Vitamin D in there!), and whatever else has been placed on a back burner. Your diet? See #1; now you’ve got that covered!
9 Address Relationship Stress
There are issues that you and your partner may want to cover when baby-to-be is still just a conversation. Finances can be a big stressor on relationships and babies cost a lot! Identify the areas that you and your partner should discuss before baby arrives.
10 Consider Paternity Leave
You may want to investigate taking time off if and when a new baby arrives. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks off; however, it is unpaid. Employers are required to continue your healthcare benefits. Only 5 to 15 percent of US employers offer paid leave for paternity. It’s best to have this sorted out in advance, so you know exactly what options are available to you.
Be sure to look over the MADE SAFE and Plastic Pollution Coalition Healthy Pregnancy Guide! From kitchen and diet to personal care and water quality, the guide contains essential tips, tools, and product recommendations for not only a healthier pregnancy, but also for healthier living and a healthier world. No matter your journey to fatherhood, the guide will inspire you to find healthier solutions for yourself, your developing baby, and the planet.
Baby already here? Check out MADE SAFE and Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Healthy Baby Guide for tips on nontoxic living with your little one.
MICHELLE PERRO, MD, PEDIATRICIAN AND MADE SAFE ADVISOR
Michelle Perro, MD, is a veteran pediatrician with nearly four decades of experience in acute and integrative medicine. More than fifteen years ago, Dr. Perro transformed her clinical practice to include pesticide and health advocacy. Dr. Perro has managed her own business, Down to Earth Pediatrics, creating a new field of integrative urgent care medicine. She is currently lecturing, consulting as well as doing research with Gordon Medical Associates, an integrative health center in Northern California. Dr. Perro has co-authored the highly acclaimed book, What’s Making our Children Sick and is Executive Director of a nonprofit science-based website, GMO Science. She has authored many publications and has a new column with the journal, Townsend Letter.