According to an article on the M2Moms blog, new and expectant mothers are not given much information from their healthcare providers about the possibility of preterm birth and preventative lifestyle measures as well as the risks and options regarding preterm births. You can read more about the survey on the March of Dimes website.
Finding out you are pregnant is one of the most exciting days of your life, but being a pet owner there are often many concerns that come along with that. Whether you've got a dog or a cat there are several important things to know about and prepare yourself for both during pregnancy and after baby comes home. In this article you will find information that should help with the transition.
FOR YOUR DOG:
It is essential during your pregnancy to prepare your dog for the new routine the baby will bring. Sometimes we forget just how many changes there will be from the viewpoint of our pets. Think about it; there are new sounds, smells, and sights your dog will be experiencing every day. These things can be scary to any pet but especially to one who is unprepared. Here are some easy ways to get your dog ready for the changes:
• Touch your dog's feet, face, ears, and tail often. Children are very hands-on so it is important to prepare your pet for being handled in a way similar to how a child may act. As your child grows you should also to teach him/her how to use gentle hands and responsible actions with dogs because no matter how well adjusted your dog is nobody likes having their hair pulled or fingers pushed in their face.
• Avoid letting the dog jump on you or pull while on leash. These are dominant behaviors that could not only lead to many more bad behaviors, but could also cause injury to you or your child.
• Socialize your dog both with people and other animals. Try to facilitate as much interaction as possible. Introduce the dog to children of various ages and let them interact with each other, always supervised. You want to be sure that this experience is enjoyable for both the dog and the child. Let the dog know that he is safe and has no reason to fear being around children.
• Touch and interact with your dog while he's eating and playing with toys or treats. Doing this helps the dog get used to you being near during these activities and helps him to understand that he is safe. This is a good thing to do with a dog from a very young age; if you are starting with an older dog you should always approach slowly and use caution as the dog may already have aggression issues that you are unaware of.
• Teach your dog the difference between his toys and the baby's toys. Don't let your dog play with toys that are intended for your children. Besides the germ factor you should teach your dog which toys are okay for him to chew on and which ones aren't so that there is no confusion once the baby comes.
It is also essential to pick out any possible aggressive behaviors your dog may have and work hard to stop them immediately. Dogs will often try to protect things they identify as being there own such as food, toys, people, beds, or personal spaces. Your dog needs to understand that these things he thinks he is protecting are yours, not his. Signs of aggression can include growling, showing teeth, hair standing up or low body posture but may go as far as snapping or biting when people or other animals are around. These behaviors should never be tolerated.
Aggression is a learned behavior and it is much easier to train in avoidance of bad behavior than it is to correct the behavior after it is acquired. If you have a dog who seems to be showing signs of aggression it is important to work quickly to eliminate it. The faster you respond to correct bad behaviors the better it will be for everyone in your household, including your pets. Here are some tips for what you can do if you find that your dog is acting aggressively:
• Check with your vet. Sometimes aggressive behavior may be the result of a medical ailment (ex. Losing sight or hearing, painful joints or teeth, etc.). Have your vet rule out these possibilities.
• Have your dog spayed or neutered. Beyond the health advantages, sterilizing your dog can help to reduce dominant behavior that often leads to aggression.
• Work with a trainer or behaviorist to correct the issue. There are several great resources locally, check with your vet to see who they recommend. We recommend the following:
⁃ Canine Coach: 763-229-8003
⁃ Petra Mertins from the U of M: 612-625-1919
⁃ Eileen Roston, certified pet trainer: 612-382-5678
When you are looking for a trainer, do not be afraid to ask lots of questions. You want to know that the person you are working with is qualified and experienced for the situation. You should also be aware of the training methods they are using and be comfortable and confident with whatever those methods are.
FOR YOUR CAT:
The biggest concern with cats involves an infection called toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a disease that can cause a variety of adverse effects including serious eye and brain damage, learning disabilities, premature and still birth, as well as convulsions and jaundice. Although infection is rare it is a very serious issue that can be easily avoided.
According to the CDC more than 60 million Americans carry the toxoplasmosis parasite without ever having symptoms and around 15% of women are immune due to previous exposure. Because exposure occurs through the handling of raw meat, cats are often infected by eating rodents, birds, or other animals that are diseased. The illness is then passed on to people through feces. The best way for a pregnant woman to avoid toxoplasmosis is to refrain from changing litter boxes. If you are pregnant and changing the litter box is unavoidable you should always wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Also, litter boxes should be changed as often as possible since the parasite does not become infectious for 1 to 5 days after being passed. Gloves should always be worn while gardening too as it is common for feces to be found in garden soil.
If you own a cat or are concerned that you may have been exposed, your doctor can perform a simple blood test to determine whether or not you have immunity. Antibiotics can also be administered to help reduce the baby's risk if an infection is found.
Other things to help you prepare kitty for the new family member include getting him ready for the new noises, scents, and routine you will all be experiencing. Exposing the cat to children or the sound of a crying baby can be very beneficial. Having friends bring their child(ren) over and letting the cat approach them is a great way to do this. The cat should also be allowed to explore the nursery and any other baby specific areas; although, you may want to keep him out of these areas once the baby has arrived. After that remembering to feed and change the litter at the times kitty is used to as well as giving him the love and attention he needs are the best things you can do to keep your kitty happy.
After the baby is home your pets have hopefully had all the necessary preparations to help make the transition easier. Remember, whether you've got a cat, dog, or both the most important thing you can do is be patient and continue to give your pets the affection and care they are used to. It may take some time and hard work but in the end you'll find that it is all worth the effort.
Look for other Auntie Ruth's sponsored articles for more tips on how to keep your pets and kids safe and happy!
Notable Minnesota Moms: Rachel Swardson Wenham, Go Home Gorgeous
by Julie Burton
Think back for a minute...how did you feel when you left the hospital with your newborn baby? Personally, whether it was with my first, second, third, or fourth child, words that come to my mind are exhausted, overwhelmed, slightly terrified, and of course, grateful. How 'bout GORGEOUS??? Uh, NO!!!! Rachel Swardson Wenham, who had three babies in nearly three years, is on a mission to add that word to the list. This past summer, Rachel founded Go Home Gorgeous, a company that offers a chance for new mothers to no longer leave the hospital exhausted and sore, but rather have them Go Home Gorgeous, feeling confident, rested, and ready. Through in-hospital massage, night nanny care and beautiful gifts that aid in recovery she hopes to ease the discomfort of what Rachel so eloquently describes as the "dreaded and neglected fourth trimester."
After having her first baby, Rachel left the hospital a day early, eager to see her newborn son in his fully childproofed, lavishly decorated nursery. She didn't realize until she got home that she was prepared for his every waking and sleeping need, but had completely neglected the needs of her new non-pregnant body. "My tummy went from cute basketball-belly to squishy Homer-Simpson-gut after delivery! Worst part was I had no clothes or even underwear that fit!" says Rachel, who had to send her husband to Target hours after returning home with their new baby.
When returning home with her second baby, Rachel often felt lonely and isolated as one of her two babies was usually napping, keeping her housebound. After giving birth to her third child (within three years of the first), she lay in the hospital bed looking at her dry, cracked hands, her veiny swollen feet, and unstimulating hospital room and thought, "This is not healing. This is not wellness. I don't want to leave here still tired and sore. I want go home gorgeous!" She immediately grabbed the nearest sheet of paper, which turned out to be the lactation instruction sheet, and began to sketch out what would become the business plan for Go Home Gorgeous.
"I wanted to take the 48 hours that they give you in the hospital and make them better. If we can't have more time, let's have better time. With massage, aromatherapy, soothing music, and soft lighting." But life with three little kids obstructed any thoughts of Go Home Gorgeous the minute she left the hospital. "The idea sheet literally sat in a pile of papers on my thinking table for over two years!"
By divine coincidence, her best friend Martha Sullivan happened upon the paper accidentally and fell in love with the idea. Martha says, "It was everything that any new mother would want and should have. It felt like a total no-brainer and I knew that there was no one but Rachel that could pull it off!" Martha and Rachel's little brother Nick Swardson provided the capital that she needed to get it off the ground. "The most important pieces of it to me were the little details. The gorgeous pink lab coats (think Pinkie Tuskadero meets Dr. 90210) that the staff would wear so that our clients would know who we were without introduction and would feel comfortable bringing us into their hospital room or home. It was the ribbon and packaging on the gifts, and of course the gifts themselves."
Rachel went to several retailers in The Galleria for support and input on the gifts. "It is always annoying to get a gift in a gift box but have no idea what it really is or where it came from. The absence of identifying the origin of a product makes it just feel like stuff." As a result the Go Home Gorgeous gift boxes are very elegant and contain products found in or from L'Occitane, Que Sera, Tiffany & Co, as well as Epitome Papers. "The Galleria also has the best kept secret in town; gorgeous nursing lounges. It is the perfect outing for a new mom," adds Rachel.
All I can say is: Where was Go Home Gorgeous when I had my babies?! To have someone come to my hospital room wearing a cute pink lab coat and turn my room into a spa-spital room, give me a neck, shoulder, and foot massage, I may have been willing to give up all pain meds after my c-sections (well, maybe not the Percocet). But after going home four times feeling very non-gorgeous, I would highly recommend giving a Go Home Gorgeous package to your favorite pregnant friend or even YOURSELF! Forget the baby gifts--this one is for MOM!!! Go to www.gohomegorgeous.com for more information.
Often times, people associate chiropractic care with the relief of neck or back pain. However, the benefits I've discovered are equally present in the treatment of pregnant mothers experiencing the all too common, lower back pain, and/or sciatica.
Pregnancy causes a multitude of unique circumstances in the woman's body. For example, people who gain weight typically do so over several years, permitting the body's musculoskeletal structure to adjust and accommodate to the increase in body mass. With pregnancy, however, a woman will gain an average of 20-50 pounds over nine months. This rapid growth in the woman's body can cause pelvic imbalance, and in turn, lower back pain.
In the past, traditional medical thinking portrayed such common ailments of pregnancy as lower back pain, sciatica, or leg/foot/hip pain, as conditions that would be resolved after giving birth. However, now we know that chiropractic care can alleviate most common ailments during pregnancy, without the use of pain relievers, or medication. As an extra, very important bonus, chiropractic care (by correcting the imbalance in the body) not only reduces, or eliminates pregnancy pain and discomfort, but may actually shorten the woman's labor.
Here's how: As the baby develops, the uterus enlarges to accommodate the rapid growth. As long as the pelvis is in a balanced state, the ligaments connected to the uterus maintain a supportive suspension for the uterus. If the pelvis is out of balance in any way, these ligaments become twisted and torqued, causing a condition known as constraint to the uterus. If the woman's uterus is constrained as birth approaches, the baby cannot get into the best possible position for birth. The baby may even be head down, as desired, but if there is constraint to the uterus this may slow down labor, and cause added pain to both mother and baby, during delivery.
These imbalances in the pelvis are very common and can cause foot, leg, or hip pain as well. Balancing the pelvis, with adjustments to the woman's body through chiropractic care, can promote overall stability.
I've been treating pregnant woman with chiropractic care and acupuncture for nearly 13 years, and I've found that these women experience much less discomfort during pregnancy, and have easier, shorter labors. As a mother of two, I think the words "easier," and perhaps, "less discomfort" are definitely words we want to experience and EXPECT during our pregnancies.
Live Balanced and Well Adjusted
Dr. Jo Becker-Puklich
I was so afraid that I would find out, only after my baby was born, that I had no maternal instinct, that I lacked the chromosomal manual that would allow me to coast through motherhood. I quickly learned that I did have some level of maternal instinct. But within a few weeks of motherhood it seemed like my instinct for sleep had been swapped with my instinct to parent. I would awaken at the slightest sound, would opt to clean instead of nap even though I was exhausted. I not only didn't sleep, eventually it was like I physically couldn't sleep. The less sleep I got the more simple things became complicated and parenting less enjoyable. I can now recognize that I was dangerously sleep deprived.
According to Science Digest, most new mothers are. A recent study showed that many subsist on an average of 5.4 hours of sleep during the first eight weeks of birth. This leads to impaired judgment, memory loss, and an increase risk of illness, and postpartum depression. A Harvard study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology even suggests that postpartum women who suffer from sleep deprivation have "three fold higher risk of substantial weight retention". Well-intentioned advice for new mothers to catch up on sleep by 'napping with the baby' or to 'ease up on housework' is not always helpful. Realistically when there is more than a newborn in the house, or a career is involved, life, to a certain extent, has to go on. One thing that can be very helpful for new mothers is to tune into their basic instincts when it comes to their needs, just as they listen to their maternal instincts when it comes to caring for their child.
During daytime hours, humans have natural survival instincts that keep us alive. Feelings of thirst prompt us to hydrate and hunger inspires us to eat. During the day we are also wired to seek and expect light. On a very primal level our bodies are in tune with daytime exposure to light and nighttime exposure to darkness. In the 1980's Scientists at the National Institute of Health (NIH) discovered that the sleep/wake cycle is regulated the Suprachaismatic Nucleus, or body clock. This part of the brain relies on bright light, like sunshine, and darkness to tell the body to wake up or remain sleeping.
Many postpartum women spend much of their waking hours indoors, where they are exposed to scarce amounts of bright light. They are often up and awake at night to feed or tend to the baby, which exposes them to light during the time their body expects darkness. On a very primal and basic level, the relationship of light/dark as it contributes to our ability to sleep is imperative in our ability to be and feel rested. In new mothers, who are not exposed to enough bright light during the day or darkness at night, this can cause their body clock, basic sleep instincts, to be thrown completely out of whack.
Darkness is critical in the production of melatonin, a powerful antioxidant that is also referred to as the 'sleep' hormone. Melatonin in the blood makes us feel drowsy and signals to the body that it is time to sleep. The eye has nerves that run from special sensors in the retina that are connected to the pineal gland. When the eye senses darkness, the pineal gland produces melatonin. If a new mom is in semi-darkness, or dim light during the day small amounts of melatonin will be leaked out. This can cause her to feel drowsy, as well as inhibit the production of large quantities of melatonin in the evening, when it is supposed to. Exposure to bright light during the day decreases melatonin production so she won't feel drowsy during the day and has also been shown to increase serotonin levels. This is critically important to new mothers as serotonin is associated with mood and energy levels, and can play a role in preventing depression.
While it may not be possible for a new mom to nap or have a solid nights rest, just getting outside and seeking exposure from sunlight can decrease feelings of sleepiness and better her mood. Using a small nightlight or low blue light, to limit the amount of light she is exposed to in the evening can prevent melatonin disruption allowing her to feel more rested, even on less sleep.
I once heard that a mother lifted up a car because her child was stuck beneath it. Our maternal instincts are fierce. We can and will do anything to protect and provide for our children. But we can do nothing well if we are sleep deprived. Reconnecting with our basic instincts for sleep can make a world of difference in our survival as parents.
Rachel Swardson Wenham is a mother, writer and the founder of "Go Home Gorgeous".
"Go Home Gorgeous" provides luxury postpartum care for new parents. From in-hospital spa treatments, shower gifts and a comprehensive night nanny service designed to mother the mother as well as care for the new baby.
"Don't Just Leave the Hospital...
Go Home Gorgeous!" GoHomeGorgeous.com
To have a baby is often a celebratory experience for couples, but it can also be a strenuous time. A new child -- be it the first, second or third -- alters the dynamics of a couple's relationship, which can lead to stress, pressure and negative patterns if not handled properly.
"It's a tremendous change," says Gayle Peterson, family therapist, online family columnist and author of Making Healthy Families (Shadow and Light). Many couples, especially those expecting their first child, are nervous about a baby's impact on their marriage. Surprisingly, though, few partners discuss their feelings or new responsibilities before the child is born.
No one knows better than you that pregnancy is an amazing journey. But after you give birth, your body goes through another round of dramatic emotional and physical changes. You probably feel alternately sheer joy and utter exhaustion, and you may be experiencing physical pain that you didn't expect. Here, some of the most common postpartum complaints, and advice from the American College of Gynecologists on the best ways to treat them:
Afterbirth contractions After you give birth, your uterus must continue contracting in order to get back to its original size. These contractions aren't as painful as labor contractions, but they can be intense and uncomfortable.Jump to full text of this article here.