Dogs & Storks

by Linda Lelak, CPDT-KA

Preparing for baby’s arrival is an exciting time for all; setting up the nursery, making work arrangements, and preparing mentally for the lifestyle changes that will come when there is an infant in the home. However, one important phase of preparation is often overlooked until baby’s arrival — the family dog. That is where Dogs & Storks, a division of, comes in.

There are many questions about babies and pet dogs. For instance, does the dog know there is a baby inside mom’s belly?  “Will our dog immediately love and protect the baby because he knows we love the baby?” “If we bring home the baby’s dirty diaper to sniff, will they be friends forever?” “ How do we introduce them?” Unfortunately, often it is not until mom and dad walk through the door with baby that they realize that there were ways they could have prepared the dog if they had known what to do.

Fortunately, help is available! Dogs & Storks is an international program that specializes in promoting safety for dog and baby from several aspects. Dog & Baby Licensed Parent Educators are dog trainers/behaviorists who are trained specifically in the field. They specialize in creating awareness for parents-to-be of how dogs’ senses are different than ours and the problems that can arise because of those differences;  teach them to recognize dog body language, and based upon their individual dog, identify potential conflicts and help parents-to-be make the changes necessary to minimize Fido’s stress levels before baby comes.  

You may visualize walking your dog as you push the stroller along. However, does your dog become excited or unmanageable when another dog or a person approaches you? Imagine struggling with a lunging or barking dog with the baby in the stroller. Now imagine the same situation when you are carrying your screaming baby while pushing the stroller and holding the leash, and a neighbor is happily bearing down on you to see the baby.

The Dogs & Storks program uses games, training, and positive reinforcement to prepare your dog for the many changes that are occurring and that will continue after baby comes home, as well as prepare you to handle situations with the dog and visitors, baby equipment, and feeding and changing times. Your Parent Educator provides ongoing support after baby arrives and learns to crawl. Mobility can create new challenges in keeping everyone happy and safe.

During a session, your Dogs & Storks Educator may perform a temperament evaluation to gauge your dog’s tolerance for noises, smells, sounds, etc. She will ask about your dog’s habits and routines, make suggestions about baby equipment, discuss early preparations for your dog and how you can cope those first few weeks caring for your new infant without neglecting the dog. She will make recommendations based upon your dog’s personality and behaviors and the layout of your house, and will work with you and your dog on manners such as barking, jumping behaviors, visitor tolerance, etc.

Visit today for more information and call your local Parent Educator today! Don’t forget to prepare your dog. You will be glad that you did.

Linda Lelak, CPDT-KA
Pawsitive Paws Dog Training and Behavior, LLC
Licensed Parent Educator for Family Paws, Inc.
Dog & Storks
Dog & Toddlers

[Videos] Workshop On Parenting During Postpartum Period Of Parenthood – Presented by Naomi Levitt, RN.

Naomi Levitt, RN, childbirth educator and breastfeeding counselor offers some tips to parents on what to expect after childbirth when presenting at the workshop: “Everything you always wanted to know about the challenges of parenting during the postpartum period but were afraid to ask.”

Listen to what she has to say about a newborn’s arrival in to the world, skin to skin contact and more.

Does prenatal stress affect fetal development?

We can’t escape it -stress is a part of our everyday lives. From sitting in traffic, meeting a deadline, planning a wedding or listening to politicians, we all experience some degree of stress whether it is a good or bad.

However, it is how we cope with it that makes all the difference. In small amounts, stress can be advantageous by giving us that boost of energy needed to accomplish daily tasks and challenges.  

Stress also helps us to stave off dangerous situations by producing the fight-or-flight response; the perception of a threatening event triggers a release of catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine and the stress hormone cortisol, which causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow to the muscles to meet the demands of survival. 

Stress can be lifesaving, but too much of it can be detrimental to our health and potentially the health of the unborn. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Zurich noted that long-term stress during pregnancy could lead to a rise in the concentration of stress hormones in the amniotic fluid, whereas, short-term stress situations, do not seem to have a negative effect on the development of the fetus[1].

During periods of increased stress, the body releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which in turn stimulates the production of cortisol. During pregnancy, the placenta can release CRH, which enters the amniotic fluid and impacts fetal metabolism[2].

The fetus obtains its cortisol from its mother until the third trimester when it starts producing it on its own. As a protective mechanism against short periods of maternal stress, a placental enzyme inactivates 80-90% of maternal cortisol before it enters the fetus. However, excess maternal cortisol can disrupt the fetal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which has been associated with long-term cognitive and behavioral problems in later life[3].   Although much more research is needed to understand the complexities of CRH ’s role and its effect in the development of the fetus, psychologists recommend that pregnant women who are exposed to long periods of stress seek support from a therapist to develop coping strategies to manage their stress.

     [1] “Too much stress for the mother affects the baby through the amniotic fluid.”

Science Daily. University of Zurich.  2017. Accessed February 12, 2019.

     [2] Ibid.

     [3] “The Impact of Maternal Stress on the Fetal Brain-A Summary of Key mechanisms.” Psychscenehub.  Accessed February 12, 2019.

Leave your expectations at the door

To this day, I remember the first moments when we brought my son home from the hospital. I had years of experience working as a postpartum and nursery nurse and thought I had newborn care down to a science. My main concern was washing my son’s hair convinced that the nursery nurses didn’t do a very thorough job since his hair was standing up like a punk rocker, and making sure my husband didn’t cut his hair as he was threatening to do. Little did I know that was the least of my problems. 

Newborn CareI quickly learned that I had a fussy baby and life was going to be different than I anticipated. I never thought I would be wheeling my son in his carriage outside in the middle of the night on the rooftop of our apartment building, but that is what it took to calm him down. With the sleep deprivation, fluctuating hormones, and what felt like nonstop feeding, I felt very out of control and guilty that I was not feeling happier with my bundle of joy. 

 However, with time, the situation got much better and by four months he was sleeping through the night and was the happiest baby. Bringing home a newborn can be overwhelming especially when things don’t go according to expectations. Just remember that these feelings are totally natural and transient in nature. The main issue is not to be hard on yourself. This is a transition period and it is okay to put your usual routines on hold while you take care of yourself and newborn and find quality time with your partner. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor for concerns about your infant and seek the help of family or friends or even a postpartum doula or newborn care specialist to guide you through this exciting but challenging time- it can make all the difference.

12 Great Tips for Moms with Newborn Babies

After a few weeks from birth your baby might be starting to become more active however we know the effect on parents can be completely the opposite.

So here are our tops tips for moms with newborn babies, from the mouth of real moms!

Don’t Hush-A-Bye-Baby

You don’t have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept. She got used to sleeping with noise, and I could get stuff done. I am still able to vacuum in her room while she sleeps (she is 14 months), and she is peaceful and well rested when she wakes up.

Jennifer, mom of one in Stafford, VA

Soothe Your Wailing Newborn

When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm. That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she’s crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp’s five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six! 

Anna, mom of one in National City, CA

Help Get Your Baby to Latch

If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use breast shields to help the process. This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto my own nipple without them. Had it not been for the breast shields, I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby. 

April, mom of one in Henderson, NV

Get Prepped

At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level – and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that. Start by prepping for the next feeding as soon as the previous one is over. For example, after an 11 p.m. feeding, get ready for the 2 a.m. one by prepping whatever you need for feeding and putting out fresh drinking water for yourself so you don’t have anything to think about in the middle of the night. During the day, take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too. 

Paula, mom of one in Littleton, CO

Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings

When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend! Our friends have found it works great with their infants too. When babies eat efficiently until they’re full before going to sleep, they sleep for longer between feedings. And that means you’re both likely to be calmer! 

Elizabeth, mom of one in Virginia Beach, VA

Help Your Baby Bond with Dad 

Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you’re needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you, and resist the urge to go into the room and “fix” things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and you experiment to find out what’s wrong. Dads need time to do this too – in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her. 

Tiffany, mom of one in Colorado Springs, CO

Crib Comfort 

When my daughter was 3 weeks, she liked to sleep only on me. Every time I put her in her bassinet after she fell asleep on me, she would wake up. I realized she probably liked the warmth. So I started wrapping a blanket around a heating pad and letting it warm up her bed while I fed her. After she was done and had fallen asleep, I removed the heating pad and slipped the baby between the folds of the warm blanket. She would snuggle right in. Prewarming a blanket in the dryer also works.

Pam, mom of one in Newnan, GA

Sleep Trick

When our baby was around 3 weeks old, she would cry and fuss because she was having a hard time falling asleep. One day, we started rubbing her nose, and it worked. In fact, it worked every time. We would start at the top and stroke it straight down to the tip, over and over. Her eyes would grow heavy and eventually close. She is now 4 months old and it still works. 

Hannah, mom of one in Mackinaw, IL

Let Your Baby Lead The Way 

Being a first-time parent can be stressful – especially when everyone wants to put in their two cents and what they’re telling you doesn’t feel right. As soon as I came home with my baby, my friends and relatives started giving me advice (more like demands) on how to raise her – they wanted me to do everything on schedule. It was nerve-racking, but I learned to ignore it and remember that this is my child. I couldn’t bear the thought of hearing him cry in hunger because it hadn’t been three hours since his last feeding. If you let your baby – not someone else – tell you when he is hungry or tired, you will find that he (and you!) will be much happier and healthier. 

Alena, mom of one in Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Baby’s First Baths

After the baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off (generally by week 3), you’ll finally be able to give her a real bath. To keep the baby warmer, more comfortable and less likely to cry, place a warm washcloth over her tummy during the bath. It makes all the difference between a happy water baby and a miserable one. Also, if your house is on the colder side, turn up the heat a little before the bath so the cold air won’t be as much of a shock after the bath. These tips made all the difference for my little girl – she loves bath time. 

Rachel, mom of one in Los Gatos, CA

Another Reason Babies Cry

People always say that babies cry because they want food, their diaper needs to be changed, they’re bored, etc., but they always leave out that the baby might be cranky because he’s tired. Our son used to go nuts during his first month, and we tried everything to calm him. It turned out that what he really needed was less stimulation and more sleep. Sometimes babies really need less – not more – from you. 

Kim, mom of one in Glendale, NY

Layer Your Baby’s Crib

When a baby has a diaper blowout or upset tummy in the middle of the night, it can be hard on both mom and baby to have to completely unmake the crib or bassinet and change all the sheets – and all the fussing makes it that much harder to get the baby back to sleep. So I put two layers of sheets and waterproof mattress covers on the crib mattress at a time (mattress cover, sheet, mattress cover, sheet). That way, we can just pull off the top two layers, change her and put her back in bed. No fumbling for clean bedclothes – and no 2 a.m. laundry detail! 

Jerrie, mom of one in Lonoke, AR

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