preparing for baby

Preparing Your Pooch for Baby’s Arrival

Dog with Baby

Before children (and even after) many people consider their pets their babies. Pets are important members of our family whom we love and interact with on a daily basis. Particularly for dogs, the arrival of a new baby can be a game changer. Having once had the full attention of their doting parents, the attention will be shifted to the demanding newborn and your pup or pups may begin to feel a little left out. Here are some tips for preparing your pooch for bringing home baby!

  1. Set up baby equipment like the crib, swing and other essentials in advance so that your dog can get used to his new surroundings. If you plan to have a gated off area where baby can safely play on the floor or have tummy time, go ahead and set that up early too so that your dog will begin to learn his new boundaries ahead of time.
  2. Nip any behavioral issues in the bud before baby arrives. If your dog is a habitual jumper when you walk in the door, take him to training school to kick the bad habit. The last thing you want is to be walking in the door with baby and have Rover jump on you both.
  3. If your dog has never been around children, consider taking him to a place with kids like the park to see how he reacts. Of course you will want to have him at a safe distance and on a leash for this experiment but it will helpful to see how he responds to little ones playing in the vicinity. 
  4. Use your phone or a prerecorded CD to play sounds that a baby might make for your dog. He may have never heard the cries of a baby before and exposing him to these stimuli before the actual baby arrives may help circumvent any anxiety caused by new and often loud noises.
  5. Your dog’s schedule will likely have some changes once baby arrives. There may be fewer long walks or other “Rover and Mom” excursions and he probably won’t get as much attention once you have a newborn on your hands. Rather than having him experience an abrupt change on the day baby arrives, consider easing him into the new schedule over a series of weeks before your due date. Dogs do much better with gradual modification than hasty changes to their routine.
  6. If you plan to take your baby for walks and bring your dog too, practice pushing the stroller while walking your dog. It may seem like a silly thing to do with an empty stroller but this may be more complicated than you think and require some fine tuning before you’re toting both of your babies.
  7. Be sure your dog has his own set of toys. Your baby will have lots of new toys that likely interest your dog. He will need his own exciting things to provide a distraction from chewing baby’s Sophie the Giraffe teether.
  8. Make arrangements for who will care for your pup in your absence when you and your partner are off to have the baby. Be sure to leave instructions for feeding, walking and who to contact in an emergency and leave your dog some special toys and treats to keep him entertained while you’re away. 
  9. Be sure to give Rover some extra love and snuggles in those final weeks before baby arrives. You soon will be busy with all the demands of a newborn and you both will be grateful to have had the extra cuddles when you could. 
  10. If you are able, have your partner or a trusted friend return to your home after the baby is born with a blanket or onesie that smells like baby. This will help Rover become acquainted with the smell of his new sibling before he arrives at home. 
  11. Ask for help! Taking Rover for long walks or for ‘Yappy Hour’ at the local park may be the last thing you are feeling up for in your sleep deprived state of new parenthood. Ask a friend or family member who is comfortable with dogs to help out with walks and getting your dog’s energy out. You will both be grateful you did!
  12. When you return home, have someone else hold baby while you greet your dog. Once he has calmed down, you or your partner can hold baby and allow Rover to sniff his feet and meet his new family member.
  13. In those first weeks at home, try to include your dog when possible. Have him lay by your feet as you nurse baby or sit by your side as you change your little one’s diaper. The more time he spends around you and baby, the more comfortable and accepting he will be. 
  14. * Safety Tip * Never allow your dog to get in between you and the baby. Even the most well-behaved, gentle dog should not be put into a situation that could become potentially dangerous if they are startled, scared or uncomfortable. 

Bringing a new baby home is a big adjustment for your dog too and taking the time to help him prepare for the change will serve you both well. With the right preparation and care to ensure that your dog’s physical and emotional needs are still being met, the introduction of a new baby can be a harmonious experience for all. In just a few years, your dog and your child will likely be the best of friends. For questions about bringing baby home or natural birth planning, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you, beginning to end!

The Home Stretch: What to Do in the Final Weeks of Pregnancy

Final Weeks of Pregnancy

The final weeks of pregnancy are filled with excitement, nerves, aches and pains and often even some impatience. Fortunately, there is plenty to do during that time period to keep you busy and ensure that you are prepared for the arrival of your baby. Here are just a few of the things that should be on your to-do list for the home stretch of pregnancy!

  • Stock up on postpartum supplies: Must have items in the weeks following giving birth include heavy duty sanitary napkins (opt for overnight strength or even Depends), comfy undies, nursing pads, lanolin nipple salve and comfortable loose fitting clothing.

Expert tip: Consider making some ‘padsicles’ by applying witch hazel and aloe to sanitary napkins and freezing them individually. Padsicles make great soothing ice packs for your recovering lady parts.

  • Sleep! If this is your first baby and you don’t have a toddler or older child running around, cherish these last weeks of uninterrupted slumber while you can. Go to bed early, sleep late when possible and catch an afternoon nap. Your body needs to rest up for the big day and the months that follow of caring for a newborn baby.
  • Nest: Many soon-to-be-moms feel the almost compulsive urge to clean and organize in preparation of the arrival of the baby. If the urge has overcome you and you have the energy, run with it and ask your family and friends to help you. Clean out the refrigerator, dust the baseboards, reorganize your closet, spot clean your kitchen and bathroom and take unwanted clothes and belongings to donate. You will have greater peace of mind bringing your baby home to a clean house where everything is in its place.
  • Stock your freezer: Now that your freezer is clean and organized, it’s time to fill it with meals that can be easily reheated in a pinch. You won’t have time to prepare dinner while you and your partner are busy caring for a newborn, so plan ahead and have some nutritional meals ready to go for when the hunger hits. 
  • Prepare your car for baby: Clean out your car and take your car seat to the fire department for instruction on proper installation. You’ll want to have this completed several weeks in advance in the event that your baby should make an early appearance.
  • Prepare a contact list: There are likely lots of people who will be anxiously awaiting the news of the arrival of your little one. Preparing a list of people ahead of time for your husband to text, email or call can remove the stress of creating it on the spot. You may also wish to give your partner’s contact info to any close friends or family that will want to check on you while you are in labor.
  • Pack your birth center or hospital bag: The contents of your bag will vary depending on whether you will be going home the day of the birth or staying a few nights. Plan accordingly with changes of clothes, toiletries, lip balm, pajamas, slippers, and anything else that you may want to have access to while you are in labor. Be sure to prepare your bag several weeks in advance as you do not want to be scrambling to pack at the last minute.
  • If you haven’t already, create your birth plan: A birth plan is a document that outlines your wishes for labor and birth experience. For help creating a birth plan, check out this article on creating a natural birth plan. Be sure to print enough copies for everyone that you anticipate will be involved in your labor and delivery.
  • Spoil yourself: These may be the last weeks that you have time to focus on yourself for a while. Take advantage of this time by doing things to pamper yourself like getting a pedicure, a massage or a haircut. Eat out at your favorite restaurant, take a bubble bath or go shopping with a girlfriend. You’ll be glad you took the time to show yourself some TLC when you are in the throes of being a new parent.
  • Finish your nursery: If you’re creating a nursery for your baby-to-be, now is the time to put the final touches on it. Wash the crib sheets and changing table covers, hang any decorations or pictures and make sure you have everything you need for baby in those first weeks at home.
  • Make space on your camera: In the age of digital cameras and smartphones, it’s not uncommon to run out of space or memory for pictures. Make sure you clean out your photos and have plenty of space to take new pictures before you go into labor. Deleting old photos is the last thing you want to be worried about when you are trying to capture your first moments with baby.
  • Spend quality time with your partner: Similar to finding time to pamper yourself, it will probably be a little while before you and your spouse have time to devote to one another. Go on dates, make dinner together, go for walks, and spend some time focusing on each other and your relationship. There are many ways to involve your partner in your pregnancy. This will help you both feel better prepared and more supported heading into the challenges of being a new parent. 
  • If you have other children, use these weeks to spend some quality time with them, remind them of their importance to the family and help prepare them for the arrival of the baby. It is also a good idea to get a gift to give to your older child “from the baby” to help lessen any initial feelings of jealousy or competition.

The final weeks of pregnancy don’t have to be stressful with a little planning, organization and time set aside to care for yourself. To learn more about having a natural birth or for any and all questions related to pregnancy and birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you from preconception to postpartum and beyond.

Collective Wisdom: Preparing for Baby

BlogIcons_CollectiveToday's Collective Wisdom post asks our mamas-to-be:

In what ways have you prepared for your baby’s arrival so far?

I’ve read books on childbirth and newborns.  I’ve taken childbirth classes. (Michaela)

Driving around with an empty carseat.  Getting the nursery ready.  Splurging on a cute diaper bag. (Lindsay D.)

Washed clothes, bought diapers, picked out some cute things for her.  Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.  (Hanni Go)

Hypnobirthing classes, prenatal yoga, found the perfect doula, change from hospital to Health Foundations. (Angie Murphy)

Decorated the nursery, hired a doula, found day care, taken childbirth education class, and infant CPR class. (Cassie)

Reading lots of books, forums on babycenter.com, reading birthwithoutfearblog.com, attending Parent Topic Nights at the Childbirth Collective, hiring a doula.  (Leah)

I have been practicing yoga, reading lots of books—not just about pregnancy and labor but lots about the postpartum and babies, getting his room ready, and meditating.  Oh and we hired a birth doula and are considering a postpartum doula.  (anonymous)

How have you (or how did you) prepare for baby’s arrival during your pregnancy?