A Gift for Your Love This Valentine's Day

Are you still struggling with what to give your valentine this year? If she's pregnant, a nice evening out and a bouquet of flowers are still thoughtful ideas, but you may want to make this Valentine's Day even more memorable.

If you really want to impress the love of your life this Valentine's Day, do something a little different -- take that extra step in showing her she has a caring and thoughtful partner during her pregnancy.

The March of Dimes believes that "men have babies, too" and says dads can do a lot to help their babies be born healthy:

  • Take an active role in the pregnancy and birth. Share your feelings about becoming a parent with your partner, so you can support each other.
  • Participate in preparing your home for the baby's arrival.
  • Encourage your partner to eat well and to avoid drinking alcohol and smoking. If you smoke, don't do so around your partner since "secondhand" smoke also can be harmful to a fetus.
  • Make sure that your partner does not use paint or dangerous household products.
  • Attend prenatal care visits and childbirth preparation classes with your partner.
  • Help out with chores, childcare and other responsibilities.
  • Make taking walks together a daily routine.
  • And, for extra measure, make sure she's taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid as part of a healthy diet that includes fortified grain products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, orange juice, lentils, peanuts, and legumes. It's important to take folic acid before conception and in the early weeks of pregnancy to aid in fetal development. And, if she is already pregnant she should be taking a prenatal vitamin.

Pregnancy is a special time for a woman and her family and a time of many changes in her body, in her emotions, and in the life of her family. As welcome as they may be, these changes often add new stresses to the lives of pregnant women who already face many demands at home and at work.

Stress, however, does not have to be all bad. When managed properly, it can provide the drive to meet new challenges. A pregnant woman (or anyone else) who feels she is coping well with stress -- feeling energized, rather than drained, and functioning well at home and work -- probably does not face health risks from stress.

You can help your valentine to relax, taking time to each day to do simple relaxation techniques such as resting in a quiet room; clearing her mind of distractions and focusing on relaxing; breathing slow, deep and steady; and recognizing -- and letting go -- tension in her major muscle groups.

Here's your chance to play an active part in her pregnancy, a role she will remember long past the fourteenth day of February.

This piece was submitted from the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at www.marchofdimes.com or its Spanish Web site at www.nacersano.org.

Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.