I considered myself a mom long before I found out I was pregnant. While these “kids” of mine are covered in fur, they are no less important to me. For the last four years, I have been owned by two great dogs – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. They have taught me so much about caring for another living being, that I credit them for making me into the mother my soon-to-be-born son is going to have.
As this is my first pregnancy, there has definitely been an adjustment period for all of us – dogs included. There are new routines and new ways of doing things that everyone had to get used to. While I believe my dogs are quite in tune with me, it’s hard to make them understand what all these changes mean. They still have demands and they still have needs that I need to tend to while trying to navigate all the changes that are happening with me. It can be hard to balance it all, but it is possible!
Here are my five tips for balancing pregnancy and pet ownership:
- Know that your pets know. My dogs knew I was pregnant before I did. I was wondering why their personalities changed so drastically (Jackson became very clingy to me and Ava became very playful – out of character for her) and when I found out I was pregnant, I realized the change came at the same time. You won’t fool your pets – they will know a huge change is coming.
- Allow for some sniffing. As your pets realize there are changes occurring with you, they will try to use their best sense – their sense of smell – to get themselves acquainted with the new you. While it may seem awkward to allow your dogs to sniff you all day long, it’s how they learn and it’s important for their adjustment.
- Have patience. Pregnancy brings a lot of hormonal changes and your patience may be in short supply, but if you are to have patience with anything, let it be your pets. They are going to be a bit anxious sensing the changes and not knowing exactly what is to come next. Losing your patience with them will make the adjustment that much harder.
- Incorporate pets into an exercise regime. Pregnancy fatigue can cause you to want to do nothing but sleep, but that is not the healthiest of decisions. Pets – dogs, especially – can force you to get up and get some exercise. Use them to help you stay healthy.
- Start new routines early. Things are going to change when the baby comes, that is undeniable. You can help ease everyone into the new routine by starting it long before the baby forces you into it. For example, if you plan to have the nursery a pet-free zone, start implementing the new rule right away. If you plan to walk the dogs while pushing a stroller, start doing so as soon as you bring the stroller home.
I have been able to really allow my dogs to investigate and acknowledge all the changes that are taking place with me and our family dynamic, and by doing so, they have taken everything more easily that I could have imagined. They still become anxious at times, especially during a new phase of the pregnancy, but with a little patience and understanding, they are able to adjust and take it all in stride.
Next phase: introducing them to the baby they have been sensing for the first time.
*Guest blogger Heather Reynolds is a pet lover and internet journalist at Trupanion, North America’s fastest growing pet insurance company. Trupanion offers 90% coverage of veterinary bills with no payout limits. Enrolled pets receive lifetime coverage for diagnostic tests, surgeries, and medications if they become sick or injured.