40 Reasons to Homebirth
Reason Number 9: Pets can be there if you want.
In my post 40 reasons to homebirth I listed number 9 as Pets can be there if you want. This i would describe, not as a deciding factor but rather a side benefit of birthing at home.
Let me tell you a little (true story)
One evening of 2006 I received the call to attend Maja in labour. She had spent the early part of labour preparing and baking a birthing day cake and when I arrived in the small cottage the home was full of the delicious aroma of that cake in the oven.
As contractions came upon her Maja rested against the kitchen table, gently swaying with her head bowed just a little. Her beautiful dog Ollie weaved herself in and out of her legs. Not a hindrance but rather a calming presence for her human mum.
Pets are often curious and concerned when a birth is going on and this was the case with Ollie. The dog was most attentive and monitored the proceedings with interest.
When labour was stronger and Maja needed the bath Ollie would check pn her often. Husband Paul was sitting at her head and I remember at one point he got up to do something in another room. A contraction built up and Maja called out to him. Quietly and instinctively Ollie took his place and put her nose up to the edge of the bath where Maja could reach and touch her.
When transition arrived and Maja was more vocal,a little agitated and nauseated. Ollie decided she did not like this bit and got herself outside, quick smart. I wrote in my notes ” Doggie Doula was not so impressed with transition and left the bathroom to go outside”
Pets we know have many therapeutic benefits. Pets visiting hospitals and nursing homes provide comfort, joy and peace. Being separated from pets can be stressful for someone on hospital
Health benefits of pets
- Lower blood pressure
- Lessen anxiety and depression
- Boost immunity
- Great company
- Children who own pets are less likely to miss days of school due to illness
- Encourages physical activity and being outdoors
- Promotes social interaction
- Keeps us present and living in the moment
So the health benefits of owning a pet are well known and documented. For this reason there are several programs to provide pets to visit hospitals and nursing homes providing much comfort, joy and peace.
Being separated from pets can be stressful for someone on hospital.
Having your own trusted pet in your own home at a birth provides a double win. As well as the therapeutic benefit of pets to your physical and emotional health you don’t have to worry about the pets welfare and organise an on call pet sitter.
If you don’t think you will want the pets around in your birthing space you can easily organise options for them as part of birth preparations.
Not exactly a pet…….
Often in a normal labour and birth,when labour starts spontaneously and is not subject to unnecessary interventions I find labour starts late evening after the sun has set and the world has gone to sleep. Labour tends to progress over night and in a significant number of cases baby is born as the sun rises. To me this reflects our mammalian instincts to labour and birth under the cover of darkness minimising the risk of predators.
At a home birth in Mansfield in 2005 Cathy’s labour reflected this pattern exactly. She called me late at night, laboured under the cover of darkness and birthed as the sun rose. Her cheeky rooster who had a tendency to roam outside the confines of his pesky pen approached the house during second stage.
The house was high up in the hills overlooking Mansfield. The rooster strutted up to the living room window where Cathy was birthing and RIGHT ON CUE with each and every push as second stage hit as the sun rose. It was hilarious and made the birth so organic and “country”.
I have never found pets a problem at births. They are simply part of that family. Could you bring your dog into a hospital labour ward? Oh my, that would test the system, now wouldn’t it?
Pets and Mental Health