Benefits of pets for kids actually start during pregnancy, new study finds

Researchers found advantages for the babies of both dog and cat owners. ??

Benefits of pets for kids actually start during pregnancy, new study finds

Good news for pet-loving mamas: The dog or cat using your baby bump as a pillow is already having a positive impact on your little one. A recent study out of the University of Alberta indicates the benefits of pets for kids include lower risks for developing allergies or struggling with obesity later in life. The biggest reveal from the new study is that we have good gut bacteria to thank for all of that.

“We looked at the kinds of gut bacteria these babies have around three months of age, and we found exposure during pregnancy or postnatally was associated with some beneficial gut bacteria in these babies,” study author Anita Kozyrskyj said on CBC radio.


It’s long been thought that sharing the floor with a pet exposes babies to good bacteria, as other studies indicated kids who live with pets are better protected against asthma and respiratory illnesses. But the U of A study indicates the benefits of a household pet start long before the kids are doing tummy time—while they’re still in the tummy, in fact.

“The interesting thing is that exposure in pregnancy also resulted in these changes, suggesting that there might be some changes to mom’s gut bacteria while she’s pregnant,” Kozyrskyj explains.

The research looked at the gut bacteria of more than 700 3-month-old babies whose moms were enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study between 2009 and 2012. Those whose moms kept a pet while pregnant had more of two kinds of good gut bacteria (oscillospira and ruminococcus).

“Both have been associated with a lower incidence of allergies later in life and a lower incidence of becoming overweight,” Kozyrskyj told CBC.

The work also indicates that when moms have a pet during pregnancy, the transmission of vaginal group B Strep, which causes pneumonia in newborns, is reduced.

Most of the moms with pets who participated in the research were dog owners, but a smaller group of cat lovers was represented in the research—indicating kitties bring the beneficial bacteria to pregnant moms, too. (The positive connection between cats and pregnancy may come as a relief to many moms who are often warned about the connection between cats and the toxoplasmosis parasite.)

The connection between pets and healthy gut bacteria suggests too much sanitization can do more harm than good, according to Kozyrskyj.

“Our society has become over concerned with exposure to microbes and it is this obsession with hygiene that people hypothesize had resulted in an increase in allergies and asthma.”

Kozyrskyj and her colleagues will be following the babies in the study until they are 5 years old, so they’ll be able to see how the gut bacteria from pets during pregnancy impacts kids in the long run.

In the meantime, keep loving on your fur babies, mamas. It’s good for you and for their “sibling.”

This year many of us have a tighter budget than usual given (looks around) everything that has happened. Coupled with the uncertainty of what Halloween might look like, many of us are reluctant to spend money on brand new costumes that our kids will outgrow by next year. I get it. But I also know that many, like me, love Halloween so much. I thought about skipping the celebration this year, but that just feels like too big of a disappointment in an already disappointing year.

That's why I started looking into alternative costumes—something my kids will be able to wear once the clock hits November, and maybe even hand down to siblings and cousins in the coming years. At the same time, I'm not a DIY person, so I wanted outfits that didn't require any sewing or hot glue. Last year I attempted using one to build my son's Care Bear costume, and of course, I burnt my hand.

So with some creativity (and the brainpower of my colleagues), we came up with these costumes that are both fun and practical, made with items that your children will be able to (and want to!) wear year around:

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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Want to be a happy parent? Let go of these 15 things to find joy

5. Your need to look perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Embrace your imperfections.

Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.

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