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Introducing Your Dog and Baby

For dog lovers, our pets are family.

If this is your first pregnancy, your dog might have very well been your first baby. When it comes time to bringing your baby home for the first time, you might be wondering how to introduce your dog to your brand new baby. 

Our dogs are very in tune with our emotional energy, but they don’t always know what these different feelings around the house mean. Pregnancy is an emotional journey with ups and downs and your pet will likely reflect these emotions in their own behavior.

New parents shouldn’t feel stressed to introduce their two favorite “people” together for the first time, so we’re bringing expectant parents some peace of mind for this exciting new chapter for their growing families. 

Break Bad Habits

While you’re pregnant, it’s a great opportunity to focus on your pet and breaking some bad habits they might have. If your dog has some behavioral quirks like jumping when greeting new people, territoriality or even accidents in the house, it might be helpful for you to get them on a training regimen. When it comes time to bring home your newborn, it’s a sigh of relief to have your dog being well behaved and in a calm and comfortable state of mind.  

Prepare Your Pet 

Dogs have an acute sense of smell and sound and these are immediately connected to many of their behaviors. Preparing your dog with the sights, sounds an scent of your new baby helps acclimate your dog to the changes around your home. Play baby sounds at a low volume throughout the day, turning the volume up while your dog is more relaxed. Use a realistic baby doll to help your dog understand how to interact around the baby, praising or rewarding them for good behavior. It can also be helpful to introduce your new baby’s scent on a blanket or an article of clothing to help your pet develop a relationship with the new baby.

Don’t Scold

When dogs are confused or anxious, they might give warning signs to people that can come across as aggressive. Low growls or mumbles out of your dog give you an opportunity to assess the situation or conflict, understanding more about what is triggering this emotion in your dog. Observe their body language, help remove them from the situation if they become visually stressed. Don’t punish the warning signs your dog are sending you, they are just looking for some understanding.

Patience is everything in the first few weeks home with your new baby and that goes for your baby’s relationship with your dog too. 

Don’t overstimulate your pet by forcing the interaction with your baby and a little understanding and patience will result in an amazing lifelong friendship.

Benefits of Childbirth Education Classes

Expecting?

While you anxiously await your baby’s big arrival, there’s plenty of organizing and preparation for parents to catch up on. Childbirth education classes might not be at the top of your list, but they’re actually an important part of the whole childbirth process.

Even if your’e a pair of veteran parents, childbirth education classes  can help you brush up on your baby skills before the big day and keep you feeling confident and ready to go.

What are some of the benefits of childbirth education classes?

 As an expectant parent, it’s normal to have a lot of questions about your upcomkng birth experience. Childbirth education classes answer a lot of the questions that many parents still have as the ‘due date’ approaches. Participating in a childbirth education session gives parents confidence and peace of mind. Parents can discuss their fears or uncertainties with their instructor and other expectant parents in the session. The instructor discusses different pain management options and comfort measures to help you put all the finishing touches on your birth plan so you’re ready to go when the big day arrives.

In Home Childbirth Education Classes

Group classes can be great but they’re not ideal for every family and private childbirth education classes at home can be easier for parents to work into their busy schedules. Private classes are tailored for the needs of the parents and they can be sure that they’re getting all the information they need and nothing they don’t. These classes help parents develop a birth plan that is harmonious with their parenting styles, cultural ideals, and the choices they wish to incorporate for their child’s birth. During private sessions, there’s more opportunity for your childbirth educator to break down the individual elements of your birth plan and give parents their complete and undivided attention.

Childbirth Education for Grandparents

This curriculum is not exclusive to expectant parents but can also offers grandparents a refresher course on all things baby care. When parents and grandparents participate to their childbirth class together, they can stay on the same page with parenting styles. This keeps grandparents feeling included in the process and comfortable that they’re equipped to lend a helping hand.

Childbirth education classes offer valuable peace of mind to parents

Get your birth plan in place and all those questions answered so you can sit back and relax with your family in those last few weeks of your pregnancy. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a few classes make in your baby prep, having you feeling more confident than ever to start this amazing new chapter with your family.

Planning Your Birth Team

Creating a positive birth experience starts with a good support team.

Nothing influences your birth more than your birth team. The people you have with you will forever shape your memory of the birth of your child.

Research shows that continuous support during labor can reduce complications, lower the risk of cesareans as well decrease the need for pain medication. A good support team can promote bonding, lead to an easier recovery, support successful breastfeeding, and improve your birth experience. Who doesn’t want that?!

Here’s a couple of tips and tricks to creating an awesome team of support for your baby’s big arrival. 

Location of Birth

Home, Hospital, or Birthing Center? Tour your local facilities, get a feel for the energy and the resources available at each location. Where do you feel comfortable? Where do you feel supported? Where would you feel safe? Studies have shown that birth at home or in a birth center with a Midwife in attendance is as safe as birthing in a hospital when the mother is low risk and there is a plan for transfer should complications arise.  Each location has it’s own risks and, it’s up to you to decide where is right for you and your baby!

Care Provider

Choosing a provider who shares a similar philosophy about birth is important, but more important, is a provider who will respect your choices, regardless of it he or she would make the same decisions. Your care provider will be guiding you in your care, you want to know that that guidance is going to support your desires. If you choose a Midwife, your Midwife will provide you with complete, comprehensive care for your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. She will support your birth plan and encourage you as the primary decision maker in your care while providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions.

Doula

Doulas are an excellent addition to any birth and postpartum support team! They provide emotional support, help with physical comfort, and can serve as a liaison to promote communication between you and the rest of your birth team. Doulas fill in if partners are not able to attend or aren’t involved. Postpartum doulas provide in home support to you and your family. Whether for birth or postpartum, doulas customize their care to support your needs. Ask your care provider for referrals to doulas in your area.

Partner

 Attending Childbirth Classes and prenatal visits together, reading books, watching videos, and talking about birth will help you both prepare for the birth of your child. It’s good for you both to have realistic expectations and enough support for each of you. The day your child is born, is a day you both will remember for the rest of your lives!

While birth can be a team effort, you are most certainly the star, and should have all the support you need.  A written birth plan can be an effective tool to communicate your desires and expectations effectively to your partner and the rest of your team. Together, you and your birth team can welcome your baby into the world with love and joy!

Lowering the Risks of Interventions During Birth

Childbirth is a collaborative effort.

As the different elements of the process work harmoniously, there is often a safer and more productive outcome. Compassionate emotional support and comfort measures hold the power to dramatically reduce certain birth risks and even surgical interventions. The birth community is now publishing more research on the benefits of birth support and how a strong support system can actually affect your birth experience in a positive way.

What’s the verdict?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has published their research on birth support and how midwives are making strides by improving the birth experience nationwide. After establishing that a woman is low-risk, she may benefit from less medical intervention that could prove stressful for her or her baby during labor.

In this research they have also identified that it’s not all about experiencing less pain.

With an epidural alone, mothers might feel less physical pain but can still be significantly affected by anxiety and birth trauma without access to a support system. Continuous emotional support, affirmations and comfort measures have been shown to dramatically shorten the duration of labor and lower the risk for operative deliveries.

When midwives, medical staff, and doulas work cooperatively with a woman in labor, they are able to focus attention on empowering them through the experience and finding natural ways to comfort and encourage the progression of birth safely. Changing positions, massage, intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring and pushing at the mother’s comfortable pace reduces cesarean risks and can also reduce birth trauma and stress during birth.

This is important news for babies to be.

As hospitals and birth centers shift toward this holistic way of thinking, it normalizes birth practices that shy away from medical interventions and pain management. Acknowledging the importance of a strong support system in the birth space will empower women to make their own decisions for their baby’s birth and create a birth plan that is more attune to their specific needs.

When you have a carefully assembled team in place, you can feel confident that you’re receiving all the attention and care you want and nothing you don’t, without compromising safety.

A strong support system matters!

As you prepare for birth, assembling your support system is just as important as deciding your birth preferences. Talk to your care provider, your birth center, and birth support professionals about your options and resources that will customize your birth experience to it’s fullest potential.

Black History Month: Influential Midwives

Many years ago, I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting with two influential MIdwives of color that have made strides in the birth world. Gladys Milton and Margaret Charles Smith spoke to their midwifery experiences at a conference for practicing and aspiring midwives that I’ll never forget.

In these sessions, Margaret and Gladys enlightened our group to the challenges of Midwifery in the mid-1900s. They took care of the women doctors and hospitals didn’t want to care for during that time. Poor women, primarily women of color. They had limited access to resources and were rarely paid for their work as Midwives. Midwives have made progress legitimizing their profession with specialized care and training. Gladys Milton moved and inspired us all with her experiences, validating our passion for improving the birth of children in our communities.

Gladys was recruited by the Walton County Health Department to provide birth and delivery services to women in low income areas. As this was during the peak of racial segregation, many African American women had to rely on midwives for birth services. After taking this opportunity in Walton, she was trained and licensed in nearby Alabama to practice midwifery in 1959.

After acquiring her license, Gladys delivered babies and provided in home postpartum care for nearly two decades before opening her own center in 1976. This center was the first birthing center in Walton county, now known as the Milton Memorial Birthing Center. Milton Memorial is run now by Glady’s daughter and Midwife, Maria Milton and continues to provide care to low-risk families in their community.

Margaret Charles Smith was one of the first official Midwives in Alabama in 1949 and was still practicing in 1976 when Midwifery became illegal in Alabama and was permitted to practice until 1981. She caught her first baby at the age of 5 when the Midwife didn’t show up in time, she Midwifed herself through 3 births, and welcomed over 3000 babies to some of the poorest women during her Midwifery career.

Margaret co-wrote a book in 1996, “Listen to Me Good: The Story of an Alabama Midwife” and was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010. But what I remember the most about her was the stories she told at the Mana Conference in 2000. She shared with us her trials & tribulations as a midwife and was open to questions. One woman asked her, since she was prohibited by Alabama law from performing internal exams to assess dilation, how she knew when it was time for a woman to push… her response.. “Have you ever heard of crowning?”. She had quite the sense of humor.

Since she was restricted, like most of the Midwives back then, from using medical equipment and performing specific exams, she became more attuned to nuances of normal healthy pregnancy and the signs of problems. Several years after hearing her stories and her sharing some of her tricks of the trade, I had a mother experience a prenatal complication that did not present with the typical symptoms, yet it was Margaret’s words that came to me and allowed me to recognize the issue at hand and allowed this mom and baby to get the care that they needed.

I often think of these amazing Midwives and am thank full for the knowledge and wisdom they have shared that continues to support moms & babies today.

During the month of February, we take a moment to recognize women like Gladys Milton and Margaret Charles Smith and the men and women that inspire us every day to continue improving childbirth and midwifery care.

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