It’s science: 5 ways men can affect our pregnancies

We always knew you were important too, dad ?

It’s science: 5 ways men can affect our pregnancies

When it comes to pregnancy, women are the stars of the show. We are the trackers of ovulation, the pee-ers on the stick, the one going to all those appointments, and of course, the warriors giving birth.

But men are pretty important too—we always knew that, don’t worry—but scientific research is now backing it up.

Of course, it is absolutely possible for women to have healthy pregnancies, awesome births and thriving children when a father isn’t present.

But for those men out there who feel like they are simply backstage for all of this, here are five ways that a dad (or future dad) can affect conception, pregnancy and beyond among heterosexual couples:

1. They have to worry about coffee, too

To reduce the risk of miscarriage, researchers suggest drinking no more than two caffeinated beverages—no matter if the one drinking them is the expecting mother or father.

Dr. Buck Louis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says, “Our findings also indicate that the male partner matters, too... Male preconception consumption of caffeinated beverages was just as strongly associated with pregnancy loss as females.” So cut down on the coffee and hop into bed a bit earlier as a couple.

2. And drinking

We’ve all heard that women should limit their alcohol intake when they are trying to get pregnant—but it looks like this might apply to dads, too!

In a groundbreaking study, researchers found that male mice who consumed alcohol at the time of conception were more likely to have unhealthy fetuses than the mice who just drank water.

More studies need to be done about the extent of this concern. However Cynthia Daniels of Rutgers University told The Guardian, “"If you minimize your exposure to toxic substances then you might minimize your risks of reproductive harm."

This goes for smoking too. Tobacco use prior to and during conception can cause changes in sperm as well.

3. Weight matters

Men who are at a healthy body mass index (BMI) have a better chances of conception than men who are overweight. Scientists are starting to find that there are changes within the sperm that can make them less healthy when a man is overweight.

In fact, the children of men who are overweight at the time of conception may actually be at risk for health problems later in life, such as diabetes. Good news though—diet and weight loss can help to reverse these sperm problems before they start.

Psst: Check out our guide to fertility boosting foods for guys.

4. And so does touch

Research has found that when a partner holds your hand during labor, your pain levels will actually decrease—significantly. So, make sure you get to those birth classes—and make it a date night!

Or, take our birth class from the comfort of your couch. Just sayin’ ?.

5. Be present

Women with partners who are involved and present during their pregnancies are less likely to suffer from depression, and are more likely to have overall mental health well-being.

Also, infants with fathers who were are involved with the pregnancy were more likely to be carried to full term, be born at a healthy weight, and to have a healthy first year.

And in his book Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked, Paul Raeburn writes that fathers who are involved in pregnancies (regardless of if he is in a relationship with the mother or not), are more likely to be involved moving forward in the child’s life as well.

So yes, moms. You still deserve the chocolate, foot rubs and push presents. You just may have to share a little with your dude—he’s pretty important too.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less

This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

Keep reading Show less