What Do I Do with My Dog During My Home Birth?
Now that I’m entering my third trimester, this whole birth and baby thing is starting to seem much more like reality and much less like an abstract concept. Turns out that there’s actually a person in there, and I will be pushing her out ... no wait, there’s more ... through my vagina (assuming everything goes as planned).
All the dog and baby books and websites I’ve been reading talk a lot about what to do with the dog when giving birth in the hospital. They explain how to introduce the dog to the baby when you bring the baby home. They recommend bringing home a blanket that the baby has been wrapped in before bringing the actual baby home to get the dog used to the scent.
Well, I won’t be “bringing the baby home.” At least, not in the usual sense of the phrase.
The dog books all fail to speak to women like me who are choosing to have our babies at home. No book has talked about how Rusty might react when he sees me mooing like a cow while squatting on the bedroom carpet (based on the few home births I’ve attended, this seems to be the norm).
The only information I’ve found so far is in a book called The Essential Homebirth Guide: For Families Planning or Considering Birthing at Home by Jane E. Drichta, Jodilyn Owen, and Dr. Christiane Northrup.
There is one paragraph in this helpful book answering the heading: “What should we do with the dog during our home birth."
Here is the dog/homebirth advice from the book (in summary):
- Let your midwife know ahead of time (some are allergic to dogs)
- If your dog is aggressive toward guests, keep him away from the birth attendants
- If your dog is stinky or annoying, put him in another room during the birth
However, the book also points out that if you have a close relationship with your dog and want to share this experience with him, you will probably be in for some “very special moments.” From the book: “The family dog can often work quite effectively at calming Mom -– she can pet or even lean on the dog during contractions.”
This is my plan with Rusty. I find him to be a tremendous comfort during difficult times, and I can’t imagine going through something as emotional as labor without him there (yet another one of the many reasons I chose home birth).
Will Rusty be at all traumatized by the experience? My guess is no. I’m basing this on the fact that I watched my mother give birth to my little sister at home when I was three years old, and I don’t feel particularly scarred. After all, it’s one of the most natural occurrences in the world. Plus, don’t forget that pretty much 100 percent of dogs choose home birth for their puppies. (They also eat their placentas, but I’ll save that discussion for another article.)
I also searched the Internet for examples of dogs at home births, pros and cons, best cases and worst cases. I found this encouraging post on a chat board at Mothering.com:
“One of the sweetest things I have ever seen at a homebirth was the family dog, normally rambunctious, one of those big leaping, bounding, jumping sort of dogs. He sat behind the mama, resting his head on the rim of the birth pool, his cheek pressed against her cheek, for the entire labor and birth. He never moved once, except to lick her face when she moaned a few times, even when she threw her arms up and around his neck and squeezed mightily with transition contractions ... After the birth, he curled up on his rug and took a nap, I think he needed to recover!”
This is what I think Rusty will be like. Although, he’s scared of water, so he probably won’t get too close to the birthing tub I’ve rented.
Besides, I need Rusty there to celebrate with me, Wes, and the new baby when it’s all over.
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