You and your partner aren’t the only members of your household who need to do some preparations for your baby before he or she arrives – your pets’ lives are going to change, too. They’re going to need your help, though, and they’ll have an easier time if you start introducing changes gradually, starting sooner, instead of all at once.
- Handle feces: What a loss, right? Especially for cats, but the same is true for other pets, whose feces can carry parasites and diseases. If you can, you’ll want to have your partner or someone else you live with clean out the litter box, deal with your dog’s poop, or clean out your hamster, mouse, rat, or ferret’s cage during your pregnancy. If you do it yourself, you can keep yourself safe by wearing gloves and washing your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Push yourself too far: During pregnancy, especially later on, you might find you won’t be able to keep up with an active pet the way you can right now, and it will be important to listen to your body and its limits as they change throughout your pregnancy.
- Make sure your dog is trained not to jump on you: What can just be a cute, slightly annoying quirk before you’re pregnant can get a little hazardous after you conceive and once you start to show, so getting a head-start on letting your favorite canine know the right and wrong way to show his or her excitement and love can help you avoid some worry later.
- Train your cat not to sleep in the baby’s bed: Anti-SIDS guidelines say that babies under a year should sleep in cribs with firm, clean mattresses covered by fitted sheets, with nothing else in the bed – not those adorable stuffed animals from your sister, not your future baby’s favorite blanket, and certainly not your cat. Cats aren’t usually very receptive to being told what to do, though, so establishing the baby’s crib as a cat-free zone early on gives you a little extra time to convince Whiskers that, indeed, there really are much nicer places to sleep.
- Be extra careful about lizards, snakes, or amphibians: As cute as your slimy or scaly friend might be, according to the Centers for Disease Control, snakes, lizards, and amphibians often carry salmonella, which can cause serious health problems for pregnant women and young children. If you have a slithery pet, be sure to wear gloves and thoroughly wash any part of your body that comes into contact with them, especially before eating, and know that Baby shouldn’t come into contact with your pet until they are older and has a fully-functional immune system. Lizards, snakes, and amphibians should also stay in their designated homes instead of wandering around your home freely, and should especially be kept away from anywhere near where you eat or cook.
- Ask for help: During pregnancy, and then even more so once your baby is born, you may find yourself having a bit less time for your pet than you do now. If you are your pet’s primary human relationship, that might mean you’ll end up dealing with a little resentment from your future baby’s furrier older sibling if you don’t help your pet start to establish another strong relationship with someone else – like with your partner, perhaps – that your pet can count on when you’re otherwise busy with baby.