There was a sudden surge of running, bouncing, and peering up on the bed. It was 6:30 am and our dog Samson seemed to be going crazy. That or he was celebrating with us because in the few minutes previous, I gave birth to Rhett. While preparing for a baby, we addressed this, but because he was there for Emma, I wasn’t expecting his reaction this time.
I remember laughing “He definitely seems to know what just happened.”
Last time he was calm and unfazed. But having gone through it, this time he was more intrigued. He gave me my space, but with the curiosity and loyalty one can expect of an Aussie-St. Bernard Mix, he kept checking in on me. Peering up to the bed as if to eagerly await his own turn to meet our new family member.
After three kids and three different experiences introducing them to pets as babies, I have learned a lot. Sometimes things go as planned, other times a bit of back up could help. Our first was different in that we brought our baby home from the hospital to two small terriers. But Emma and Rhett were born at home with Samson nearby. And that was a much different experience.
What do I do with my dog for my homebirth?
The question every new homebirth mom asks with pets in the house.
Every dog is different… in temperament, in energy levels, and in how they react to transitions. So while introducing dog to baby from the hospital has its own challenges and requires planning ahead to bring home diapers and baby clothing to let them smell it, pets that are in the home for a birth have no choice but to be a part of the process because they’re in the house.
The experience all the same excitement. All of the anticipation. And all of the smells.
How to know if your pet should stay in the house during a birth
So first thing, first. Assess your dog’s normal reaction to big transitions. If they have over-the-top reactions to stressful experiences, for the actual birth it might be best to have someone on speed dial when the contractions pick up speed to come pick up your fur-baby and not worry about it while birthing your baby-baby.
Even the most peaceful pups can sometimes use extra help to remain calm and relaxed in the midst of the most exciting human experiences.
Zylkene is a balanced behavioral supplement that’s clinically proven to relax and calm your cat or dog without causing sedation or drowsiness. Most pets take them with ease, especially when mixed with food and you can start it once a day for a few days prior to your due date (or dare I say start the day you lose your mucous plug?!).
The Secret to having a homebirth with pets around
Have a safe place for your dog
When Emma was born, we used a large crate for Samson. It was full of pillows and blankets so that he could feel like home or if for some reason he reacted unexpectedly, we could send him there.
Now we don’t use a crate because he’s older and calmer in general. But we do have a code phrase for him and tell him to “go to bed” and he knows where in the house to go. And he actually enjoys that space.
Understand how a dog fits into your “style” of birthing at home
Some people give birth on a bed.
Others use a birthing pool.
And some have tennis balls around for counter-pressure.
So you’ll have to consider if your dog is used to playing with a ball, or is intrigued by water, or sleeps on the bed with you.
Samson isn’t allowed on furniture. Therefore, being up on the mattress created some needed separation for us.
Have a calming plan
In addition to grabbing some Zylkene from your vet or online, a new toy or a special new bed might help a pet feel more comfortable while watching you labor and while transitioning to life with a tiny baby in the house.
Check out this 2012 throwback picture when Fritz & Rowdy met Jenn:
How to begin introducing your dog to a new baby
Introducing your dog to your new baby (or maybe introducing baby to dog depending on how you look at it) is an important step after the baby has arrived.
As previously mentioned, your dog will experience all of the emotions, smells, sounds, and sights during birth as long as they’re still in the house. And allowing your puppy to smell new blankets, and potentially letting them come in the room while cleanup is happening will help them sort through all of it even if you’re not actually letting your dog see the newborn yet.
Typically our family spends a few days letting our dogs smell diapers, tiny spit-up stained clothes, and breastmilk-covered blankets before letting the dog actually see the new baby. And honestly even with 3 different dogs and 3 births, the only time we have experienced a dog growling at baby was when they’re in early toddler years and there is real interaction between the two.
How to help pets feel included once baby arrives
Learning to cope with a new environment is hard for all pets. We live in survival mode as parents and as much as we love all the living beings in our home, the baby comes first. So here are a few ways to ensure that after labor and delivery that you pet doesn’t retaliate or act out:
- Go on family walks to let your pup get used to walking with a stroller.
- Hold the baby as you scoop food for the dog. It helps the dog know the baby belongs with you.
- Set aside some time where the dog can interact with you as you hold the baby. It will help develop a healthy relationship between the two.
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More on homebirth
Zylkene is ideal for pets to help cope with various challenging situations, such as loud noises (fireworks, thunderstorms), traveling with pets, etc. Ask for Zylkene by name at your veterinary clinic, or purchase it online.
Click here to learn more about Zylkene non-drowsy calming supplements for your dog or cat.
This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. I received Zylkene products for my own personal review. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. If your pet’s behavior changes suddenly in any way, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. He or she can rule out any underlying medical issues as well as make additional recommendations. Consult your veterinarian before giving your pet Zylkene. Follow the recommended administration on the package, unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!