Pets in the Birth Space

Immediately postpartum; one dog perched over the pool, the other pacing in circles in excitement.

Most pet owners would agree that our pets are one of our closest companions. There is a mutual love and care between a pet and their owner, more often than not. There is a connection! Some say that their pet intuitively knows when they are sad or in pain. Their pet will come close to them, rub up on them, make eye contact, or snuggle in their lap.

In attending home birth, I have found this connection to be true! Animals that live in the home often play a roll in labor and birth. Cats and dogs alike often want to be close. I’ve even seen cats perched on the edge of a birth pool! They tend to stay close to their owner, some physically touching the laboring woman, some standing close by witnessing what is occurring, some pacing erratically.

Even in pregnancy! Many cats and dogs will cuddle up against a woman’s belly. Some might become more aggressive towards visitors while the owner is pregnant. Many pets behavior will shift just before, or right as labor initiates. Some will become very clingy, some become overly protective. As a means to show loyalty and protect baby, possibly? Whatever this may be, they are showing that they are instinctively aware that something is different.

Upon the emergence of baby, I find that pets flock to the scene! Some perched on the bed, or edge of the pool. Some bark or meow in response, almost as if they are cheering. Some will pace around erratically, showing they know there is a change in the atmosphere. At times, I wonder if they feel the new spirit joining the newborn’s body. Could they possibly feel the energy of new life? Regardless of how and why, pets are most usually instinctively aware, and present during home births. I find it to be fascinating!

Has your pet acted in any of these ways, or similarly, in pregnancy, labor, or birth? Share your experience and thoughts on the matter!

Cat peering over the birth pool at around an hour postpartum.
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