Pregnancy is the most exciting journey the woman can have in her life. It marks the onset of a new chapter in life, and it is great if you can share this period with small members of your family – pets. The benefits, which the pets provide to your physical and mental health during pregnancy, are priceless.
In this article, we share information about the advantages of interacting with pets during your pregnancy, some risks of pet ownership during pregnancy, and types of pets you can have during your pregnancy.
What Animals Are Good Pets?
Pets are family members, who brighten up your life, fill it with positive emotions, provide support, encouragement, and give unconditional love.
The 2007 National Pet Owners Survey, conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturer’s Association, broke down the pet preferences of Americans. In the United States, people mostly own freshwater fish, cats, dogs, birds, small animals, horses, reptiles, saltwater fish.
If you are looking for a pet, which will be good for your pregnancy and children, here is the list of three pets for you. We didn’t include the most popular pets – dogs and cats of different breeds.
- A rabbit is a lovely and funny pet. There are more than 60 breeds of rabbits, who vary in sizes, colors, and ear lengths. Thus, you can find a pet of your dreams. They interact perfectly with adults and children. They live in rabbit cages, and they require an enclosed indoor space for the exercises.
- Birds (budgies) are playful birds, who are very affectionate towards the owner. They are intelligent, they can mimic the human’s voice, and make interesting sounds. They need a large cage to live, and the cleaning process is simple.
- Fish are colorful, they provide a soothing effect, and the sight of fish swimming around can help you distract and relax. You can decorate the aquarium the way you want.
Pregnancy and Pets: Cons
Many people state that communication with pets is important during pregnancy and that spending time with little friends will bring only benefits to a future mama. However, there is another point of view, which is supported by many people. The thing is that the presence of pets may be not only undesirable but even dangerous. Here are reasons why.
- Cleaning can be dangerous
Taking care of animals implies that you feed them, play with them, cuddle with them, and clean up after them. However, one of these daily duties can be dangerous for pregnant women. Changing the litter box is prohibited because cat feces can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be spread to humans. Toxoplasmosis is extra-scary during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta and harm your unborn baby.
- They can be carriers of different viruses and infections
Guinea pigs, hamsters, and mice can carry a dangerous virus, which can cause severe birth defects and can trigger miscarriage. The virus is transmitted through urine, saliva, droppings, and blood. This virus is called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV).
- Their hyperactivity can harm you
Usually, this danger is associated with the dogs. Many women say that during their pregnancy, their dogs were extremely affectionate, still, there is a possibility that the dog will behave unexpectedly. It can push you while playing with you, jump on your belly or put its paws on it. If the dog is big, then such actions can be a threat to the child.
Five Ways Pets Can Be Good for Your Pregnancy
Though there are some risks as for living with pets during pregnancy, they can be eliminated if you adhere to some precaution measures. In most cases, pets help future mothers to become calmer, more balanced and relaxed. Here are five benefits pets bring to pregnant women.
- They keep you active
Being active during pregnancy is vital. If you keep fit, it’s easier for you to adapt to pregnancy. Regular exercises (including walks with your dog) improve your muscle tone and endurance. Eventually, it is easier to carry the weight you gain during pregnancy, you’ll cope with the pain pregnancy can cause better, your heart and lungs are strengthened, which contributes to an easier labor, and it is easier to get in shape after your baby is born.
Pets are curious and full of energy. It is possible that they will not only help you stay active physically but with your pet, you can discover the world around you again.
Thus, your pets encourage outdoor activity, which helps you to stay fit and socialize. You can walk in the parks or rural areas with your pet, maybe you’ll meet future mothers with the same interests, see new places, establish a connection with nature.
- They improve your mood
Pets are known as perfect stress relievers. Spending time with them will significantly boost your mood and you’ll feel better, and clear your mind. Communication with pets promotes a production of such hormones as serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin contributes to the feelings of happiness and well-being, and dopamine is often considered as a hormone of pleasure, but it is also seen as a chemical, which helps people cultivate motivation.
This is especially important for pregnant women because they can have an unstable emotional background and moments of joy can be replaced by moments of despair and sadness. Communication with a little friend will improve the mood, and help find motivation.
- Moms with pets may have healthier babies
Some pets bring much dirt and certain germs into the house, but it isn’t always bad. It will improve your immune system, which is only good for your baby.
Besides, numerous studies prove that children, who grow up with pets, are less likely to be allergic to them. Early exposure to these allergens helps the child to build a natural immunity.
Besides, some researchers prove that dogs and cats may lower the risk of coughs during the first year of life. Also, exposure to certain germs and bacteria helps kids to develop a stronger immunity, and lower the risk of developing asthma, respiratory and ear infections.
- They are great for your heart
Many people wonder how animals help humans. The answer is that they promote better physical and emotional health, which contributes to safer and more enjoyable pregnancy. It is known that cuddling, playing with a pet can help manage stress levels and lower blood pressure. During pregnancy, your heart is stressed because your blood volume increases up to 50 percent, and your heart rate increases. This process is natural because your heart pumps more blood to nourish a growing baby but there are some risks that can trigger certain heart problems. One of the ways to prevent them is to lead an active lifestyle, have much rest, and manage anxiety.
When you pet a dog or a cat, then the level of cortisol – a stress hormone, decreases, and oxytocin – a hormone of happiness is released. Oxytocin promotes a strong attachment to a furry friend. Thus, this connection helps women to see hope for a wonderful future, think about only a positive outcome, and stay optimistic.
- Alleviate stress and depression
Owning a pet brings many benefits, but the major ones are unconditional love they give, affection and companionship they provide. Sometimes, future mothers can feel lost or they search for a new direction in life and during this period, they may experience stress and depression. In this case, an interaction with a pet is extremely important. Bonds with a furry friend can alleviate stress, depression, and eliminate the feelings of loneliness. Besides, pets give a purpose. You feed them, take care of them, and it reminds of how important it is to feel needed, and that taking care of living beings makes you feel great. Moreover, your pets give you the necessary level of concern and support, therefore, you feel cherished and it encourages you not to give up.
Besides, pets can give you a sense of security and they provide emotional support. If the mother is emotionally healthy, then the child is healthy too because an emotional condition of a mother influences the baby.
To spend time with pets is beneficial for pregnant women. Thanks to their support and love, emotional and physical health is improved. So, all you should do during your pregnancy is to enjoy this magnificent period and wait for a new family member.