When making out your birth guest list, don’t forget to include Fluffy and Fido.
Pets make excellent birthing companions. Not only do they help us reconnect with our animal natures, they are loving, forgiving, comforting, trusting, patient, humble (well, maybe not cats), and loyal. They have all the qualities you could ever want in a labor companion. And best of all, they offer their services free of charge.
The concept that animals can help us in labor is certainly not a new one. Russian waterbirth proponent Igor Tcharkovsky has long believed that dolphins have mystical powers and can help us overcome our fears. He dreams of a day when women will give birth in the ocean surrounded by dolphins and other sea creatures.
French obstetrician Michel Odent takes a more practical approach: give birth at home with your beloved house cat. “Is there a correlation between the presence of cats in a house and a fast birth?” he writes in The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding. “Years ago such a question would not have occurred to me. Nevertheless, evidence gathered by my own eyes now tells me there is such a correlation.” Cats, he believes, can actually help regulate the levels of stress hormones in the people who are near them.
Having the freedom to labor with our furry friends by our sides is just one more reason to give birth at home, as most hospitals don’t allow animals in the delivery room (unless they’ve been to medical school!).