According to the Telegraph News in the UK, humans love their pet dogs in the same way as they do their children, and, scientists have discovered that the feeling is mutual!
Researchers found that the same hormone, oxytocin, spikes in both human and canine brains when a dog is gazing at its owner. Oxytocin is known to play a strong role in triggering feelings of unconditional love and protection when parents and children look into each other’s eyes or embrace.
These findings suggest that owners love their pets the same way they love family members, and dogs return their person’s devoted affection. Talk to any owner of a “fur child” and they will confirm that this discovery is no surprise to them!
(They don’t call it “Puppy Love” for nothing!)
I will be the first to admit that I am totally in this group of pet owners because we refer to my Belle as our oldest child, followed by my son, her little brother.
So, what happens when you go from a single “fur baby” to bringing home a real baby?
How do you prepare your dog for this?
This was a huge concern in our household, as Belle (my “fur child”) had already been with us for five years before my son joined us. Belle–being very well socialized and trained–even had her own room with a twin bed (and matching curtains and bedspread, because that’s how I roll) before the baby came home, and then it became his room.
Most of my friends already had children, so she was used to kids sitting on her, playing in her water dish, and going down slides at our park with the neighbourhood children – but now Belle was being knocked down from number one to number two. I wondered if I would have to worry about jealousy or aggression towards the new baby?
To prepare, I had a long meeting with my vet, and she gave us tips to start working with her long before we brought home baby.
Hopefully this will help your family transition as well, and I encourage you to go ahead and book an appointment with your veterinarian for advice and, frankly, peace of mind.
Tips for Preparing Your Dog for the New Baby
1) Address Any Behaviour Problems Now!
Establish boundaries around the nursery. Start with making the nursery off-limits. Train your dog to understand that there is an invisible barrier that she may not cross without your permission. Eventually, you’ll be able to allow your dog to explore and sniff things in the room with your supervision. Then you decide when she needs to leave. Repeat this activity a few times before the baby arrives. This will let your dog know that this room belongs to its pack leader/owner and must be respected at all times. (Introduce Your Dog to Your Baby | Cesar’s Way)
2) Establish A New Schedule
Caring for a baby is hard work, particularly in the first few months. Parenting a newborn leaves a lot less time for your pets, and will disrupt their normal schedule. Get them used to adjustments that you can anticipate now. For example, if someone else will be helping out with walks or feedings, consider having them start doing that now before Baby arrives.
3) Invest in a Carrier or Stroller Now
You and your dog can maintain your walking schedule, all you’ll need to do is take the baby along with you! For Mama, this has an added benefit of exercise, and exercise can help boost Mama’s postpartum mood and wellness. *Be forewarned: it will take some time for your dog to get used to walking behind the stroller and for you to manage a leash, the stroller, the dog, etc. Be patient, you’ll figure it out! Practice in advance, so you’re both masters by the time Baby is there!
4) Play the sounds of a baby’s cry
Find a recording of a baby crying (try YouTube or Soundcloud), and play it as loud as possible as you go about your day. Cesar Millan suggests that while it won’t be the same as the real thing, it can help get your dog accustomed to the sound and may help you identify (and address) any problem behaviours that it elicits.
5) Bring Something from the Hospital
Show your dog something that smells like Baby – just like with the boundary exercise in the nursery (tip #1), let your dog smell the new item, allowing him or her to get used to the smell of the baby so it will be less of a strange smell.
Start Now, don’t wait and by the time your baby comes all these changes will be the new normal.
Dominica AKA The Dog Doula
Dominica is mother to Connor, and incredible 9 year old, and several "fur-babies". She is also the owner of Dog'n'Jog, specializing in individualized or small group adventure programs for your K9 including not just physical exercise but mental exercise, using all their senses with customized games and training.
Find out more HERE!
Prenatal classes usually bring to mind a free-spirited-naturally-minded instructor, yoga mats and sitting cross legged in a circle, and a room full of nervous expecting parents anxious to learn anything and everything to make their birth easier. With the incredible amount of information available with a simple Google search it can be tempting to forgo the potential awkwardness and hours of time that taking a prenatal class can have.
Google has its advantages for sure (as the millions of memes for any occasion can attest to!) but here are 5 solid reasons why you should invest your time, energy, and money into a Cowichan Doula prenatal class.
Reason 1: Learn how birth happens in your area.
Having a solid understanding of the birthing options, locations, and providers in your area can help you map out your birth plan/preferences in a realistic way.
For example, in the Cowichan Valley we are incredibly fortunate to have multiple incredible midwives, general practitioners, and obstetricians who provide primary care to birthing families. They work seamlessly together with the fantastic nurses at Cowichan District Hospital to provide an unparalleled level of family-centred care to their clients. From home to hospital, unmedicated water birth to elective cesarean birth the Duncan area offers many options to its birthing families.
Reason 2: Connect with other expecting parents.
Who else is going to be awake at 3am feeding their newborn for the billionth time that you can text "SOS" to? Meeting other parents who are expecting in the same general time as you can pay off big time when you're all in the thick of the newborn fog of sleep deprivation and endless diaper changes and feedings. Having someone outside your family who "gets" your current reality and who you can share your triumphs and challenges with is invaluable for your mental health through your transition into parenthood.
Reason 3: There is a class for everyone.
Cowichan Doula offers private prenatal classes, Birth & Baby Prep weekend classes, and Birth Partner 101 workshops. No matter who your birth partner is (romantic partner, friend, family member, doula, etc.), where you are giving birth (home or hospital), and what birth preferences you have (unmedicated to elective cesarean), we have a class that will suit your needs and budget.
Reason 4: They aren't just about birth.
While preparing for your birth is probably at the top of your priorities in a prenatal class, we also focus on your postpartum expectations and plan to ensure you are able to transition into your new role as a parent as smoothly as possible. From discussions about physical and mental health postpartum to hands on practise with breast/bottle feeding positions and swaddling we cover a range of important topics that will help you prepare for your first year.
Reason 5: They are fun!
If you aren't yet familiar with how a "Sweaty Cowboy" or peanut balls can help you during your labor and you want to be in a class that welcomes awkward jokes, you should sign up. These are not your typical classes and will be full of fun, laughter, and memorable moments that will stick with you while providing comfort and preparation.
It's the end of another day. You've been up since the crack of dawn; tossed endless loads of laundry through; run in circles cleaning up other's messes; participated in the "Chopped" (Parent Edition) marathon where your judge is a tiny version of yourself with a nose that can distinguish a hint of veggie that may have come into contact with their plate and who refuses point blank to drink anything out of a cup in any other colour but the exact shade of green of their underwear... You have FINALLY wrangled and wrestled everyone into and out of the tub, into some form of pjs, read bedtime stories, fetched water, rubbed backs while singing the theme song to "Paw Patrol" a billion times over and now there is silence...
There is sometimes a point during birth when many mothers reach a mental roadblock. This can happen at any point but I have found that for the majority of my birth doula clients it occurs when they are nearing transition (when dilation is almost complete and their bodies are almost ready to start pushing) or when a cesarean birth becomes necessary. "I can't do it!", "I don't want to!", and "I give up!" are common expressions that they might express to their support partners during this time.
This can be nerve-wracking for you, the birth partner, as you watch your loved one struggle to continue on this journey into parenthood. Thankfully there are several ways to help ground mothers when they reach this point.
I'm Kaya, the owner behind Cowichan Doula. I offer birth & postpartum doula services as well as prenatal classes in the Cowichan Valley area on Vancouver Island.