Your Dog and Your New Baby: What a Dog Trainer Wants You to Know

You’re expecting your first baby and you’re also a dog owner. Just like you’ve prepared the nursey for the new baby, you have to prepare your dog for the new arrival. Your dog may have been the only child in your family for a while and is used to being the center of attention. He or she is probably used to your routine and is happy. But that routine and everything else is going to change and your dog will have to become comfortable with the changes. No dog becomes trained all by themselves. You may have the best dog The post Your Dog and Your New Baby: What a Dog Trainer Wants You to Know appeared first on The Pulse.

Your Dog and Your New Baby: What a Dog Trainer Wants You to Know

You’re expecting your first baby and you’re also a dog owner. Just like you’ve prepared the nursey for the new baby, you have to prepare your dog for the new arrival.

Your dog may have been the only child in your family for a while and is used to being the center of attention. He or she is probably used to your routine and is happy. But that routine and everything else is going to change and your dog will have to become comfortable with the changes.

No dog becomes trained all by themselves. You may have the best dog since Lassie, but the dog probably doesn’t know anything about babies. Changes in your household routine can make any dog anxious. Many otherwise good dogs end up at animal shelters because no one trained the dog or prepared it for the baby.

You or your partner—preferably both of you—should prepare your dog before you bring the baby home says Linda Lukens, owner and operator of Common Ground Dog Training in Carmel, NY. She is called to help by people who are expecting babies four or five times a year, she says. She also consults with people with dog problems after the baby comes, which may be too late.

Start Prepping Early

Start early, by at least the fourth or fifth month of the pregnancy, Lukens says. You can start carrying a doll around and pay a lot of attention to it. “Ignore the dog while you are paying attention to the doll.” Dogs react to smells and noise. Bring items that smell like babies, such as lotions and baby powder, into the house. Borrow some used baby clothes from a friend to help introduce some of baby smells, she says.

Make sure that your dog has a safe, comfortable, dog-only space, such as a crate or a dog bed that is in a corner away from everything else.

This is the time to take stock of your dog’s training. Does he or she sit and lay down on command? Is the dog trained not to jump up on people? You also need to teach your dog to keep out from underfoot as you carry your baby around.

Start spending at least 15 minutes a day training (or re-training) your dog to obey commands. Make sure the dog obeys not just when you are standing in front of the dog, but also when you are sitting down or doing something else. Train your dog to walk calmly next to a stroller, Lukens adds.

If your dog has never been around children take her or him to a playground or other places where there are kids to see how he or she reacts, she says. “Don’t go up to the children but get close enough to see what the dog’s reactions are.”

Warning Signs

Think about what type of traits your dog has. Aggressive tendencies must be addressed immediately. “Symptoms of any sort of aggression in the dog, whether it’s barking and lunging at other dogs on a walk are very serious,” Lukens says. “Has the dog every snapped at people or snapped at the dog groomer or at the vet’s office?” Aggression in a dog is especially serious if the dog has ever killed a squirrel or other small animal in your yard, she stressed.

A timid, nervous dog can present problems when the new baby arrives. An owner with a dog that seems very timid may think the dog is safe because the dog usually retreats. But nervous dogs will react out of fear when they are pushed too far or if they can’t get away, she says. The dog may have always shied away in the past but a new baby and the disruption in routine may set up a situation that ends with the dog snarling or snapping, or worse, biting.

Look for signs that the dog is upset or is scared because it is being pushed too far, Lukens says. A scared or upset dog will show the whites of the eyes, have their ears pulled back close to their heads, or have their tucked tightly between their legs.

Call a professional dog trainer if there are any signs of aggression and nervousness in your dog and do this as soon as possible. “The dog needs to be evaluated,”  Lukens says. The trainer can help determine why the dog is acting the way he or she is and discuss possible solutions to the problem.

A good trainer will be honest about the situation, she adds. “You may be told that your dog is not a good candidate to get along with your baby.”

It is possible to train a dog with fear or aggression issues, she adds. Some dogs can be turned around in their behavior “when all the right things are done.”

Find a trainer who uses positive reinforcement methods, such as training. Do not use a trainer who works with methods that punish the dog such as shock collars or prong collars, she adds. “Punishing a dog that doesn’t like the baby is only going to make the dog like the baby even less.”

The best way to find a good trainer who uses positive methods is to ask your friends or your veterinarian for recommendations, she says.

The Crawling and Toddling Years

How your dog reacts with an infant is one thing, how he or she interacts with a baby who is crawling and toddling around at eye level to the dog is another. A dog and a small child must always be supervised when they are together. “Dogs should not be left alone with small children. Ever,” Lukens says.

“There are people who believe a dog should put up with anything. No. they shouldn’t, and no, they won’t, and it’s up to you to be the smart supervisor,” she says. “It’s not just about training. It’s about management.” Keep the toddler from bothering the dog while the dog is eating or sleeping. Put the dog in his or her crate at mealtime, if necessary, she adds.

There was a trend on social media for a while of people posting photos of small infants on top of large dog. Never put a baby or small child on top of a dog, Lukens said. The dog may mean no harm but may move suddenly or react and the baby can land on the floor.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has extensive advice on getting your dog ready for your baby.

Having a dog and having a baby are both wonderful. With preparation and careful supervision, having both in your house at the same time, can be wonderful, too.

The post Your Dog and Your New Baby: What a Dog Trainer Wants You to Know appeared first on The Pulse.

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Does Vaginal Laser Therapy Have a Place in Postpartum Care?

Mommy makeover, postpartum rejuvenation, postpartum vaginal tightening therapy, vaginal restoration… What else have you heard vaginal laser therapy called? If you are pregnant or postpartum, you may have read about some new treatments for postpartum moms. Unfortunately, while promising, there is not enough information about the risks or long-term safety of vaginal laser therapy, especially for postpartum moms. What is vaginal laser therapy? Gynecologists had a laser-bright idea. They wanted to find more effective ways to help treat age- and -hormone-related changes in the vagina and vulva. The vulva is the outer part of your female sex organs- the clitoris, The post Does Vaginal Laser Therapy Have a Place in Postpartum Care? appeared first on The Pulse.

Does Vaginal Laser Therapy Have a Place in Postpartum Care?

Mommy makeover, postpartum rejuvenation, postpartum vaginal tightening therapy, vaginal restoration… What else have you heard vaginal laser therapy called? If you are pregnant or postpartum, you may have read about some new treatments for postpartum moms. Unfortunately, while promising, there is not enough information about the risks or long-term safety of vaginal laser therapy, especially for postpartum moms.

What is vaginal laser therapy?

Gynecologists had a laser-bright idea. They wanted to find more effective ways to help treat age- and -hormone-related changes in the vagina and vulva. The vulva is the outer part of your female sex organs- the clitoris, labia (vaginal lips), the opening to the vagina, and the space between your vaginal opening and your anus, the perineum. The vulva does not include the cervix, womb, or other inside lady parts. Could the same laser-skin-resurfacing technology for women’s faces also help their vaginas? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently only approved laser therapy aesthetic “skin resurfacing” and not treating the vagina or vulva.

For skin-resurfacing treatments, carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers cause a controlled injury to skin and tissue close to the skin’s surface. Continuous pulses of high-energy light beams vaporize thin outer layers of skin but a shallow enough depth to not cause pain. After the skin is “injured” by the laser, it reheals and develops more flexibility, elasticity, higher moisture levels and can appear more youthful, partially thanks to increased collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are two proteins that help give skin and body tissues strength and flexibility. As we age or after an injury (such as childbirth), collagen and elastin levels can change.

Researchers first hypothesized that laser resurfacing inside the vagina might help treat vaginal dryness, irritation, and other uncomfortable changes related to aging and atrophy. Atrophy is the change in the lining of the vagina that occurs naturally as estrogen levels fall in menopause. Lower estrogen levels postpartum, especially if you are breastfeeding, can cause similar vaginal and vulvar tissues changes. So those same curious gynecologist researchers began to think that vaginal laser therapy might also help some of the postpartum discomforts women experience after childbirth.

Proponents make the following unscientifically-proven claims that vaginal laser therapy :

  • Stimulates new collagen formation
  • Causes tissue remodeling
  • Restores vaginal flexibility and shape
  • Improves vaginal lubrication
  • Reduces itching and pain during intercourse
  • Improves the appearance of the external vulvar area
  • Treats stress urinary incontinence (leaking urine when you cough, sneeze or jump)

Reportedly these effects are noticeable soon after the first treatment, and the improvement continues for several months after completing the entire treatment series (3-4 treatments). Providers of vaginal laser therapy advocate clients have annual treatments because some research indicates treatment effects only last 1-2 years.

It is important to note here that FDA has not approved the use of fractional lasers to treat either vulvar vaginal symptoms of menopause (like atrophy) or postpartum symptoms. Nevertheless, many researchers and OBGYN’s have already started offering vaginal laser therapy to their patients, even without full approval status.

Why Would Postpartum Moms Consider Shining A Laser on their Lady Parts?

There are some attractive advantages that vaginal laser therapy might offer over some of the other more time-tested treatment options such as pelvic floor physical therapy, vaginal estrogen cream, or even surgery. A postpartum “rejuvenation” via laser might sound good because:

  • There is virtually no downtime or recovery time after the procedure
  • It does not require any anesthesia and is relatively pain-free.
  • It does not require surgery and has a lower risk of complications or infections.
  • It is a non-hormonal option for moms with a history of hormone-sensitive breast cancers who can’t use estrogen-containing treatments.
  • May be able to treat urinary incontinence, vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, pelvic floor relaxation all in one treatment.
  • May offer faster and less labor-intensive results than Kegel Exercises or pelvic floor physical therapy during the stressful first years of your baby’s life.

What happens during vaginal laser treatment?

During vaginal rejuvenation treatment, your doctor inserts a probe similar to a vaginal ultrasound probe into your vagina. Laser beams of different frequencies are directed to the vaginal wall in all directions, causing concentrated thermal heating of the vaginal tissues. During the 3-5minute treatment, women report feeling warmth and heat but no pain.

After vaginal laser treatment, you can return to work and resume your daily life activities immediately.  You can begin regular exercise 24 hours after the procedure and have sexual intercourse after 72 hours.

The possible side effects may include vaginal spotting, mild vaginal bleeding, pink or brown vaginal discharge, watery vaginal discharge, irritation, burning when peeing, and discomfort. Side effects should not last longer than four days. Most patients do not experience any lasting side effects.

Laser therapy can also be used extravaginally on the outside of the vagina on the labia (vaginal lips) and vulva. For external treatment, doctors advise showering or bathe before your treatment and shaving any pubic hair to reduce the risk of infection. After treatment, vulvar skin may be red, feel sore, itchy, or swollen. It is safe to use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time as needed for swelling and discomfort. Providers recommend waiting one day after treatment to shower or bathe, one week before resuming vaginal sexual activity, and 3-4 days before exercising.

How much does vaginal laser therapy cost?

Depending on where you go for your treatment and the area you’re looking to get treated, you will pay between $1,000 and $2,500 for vaginal laser therapy. Health insurance does not cover the cost of the treatments.

What Does the Research Show?

Early research studies of laser therapy for vaginal atrophy symptoms in perimenopausal women showed encouraging results. One study of forty perimenopausal women treated with fractional CO2 lasers reported that vaginal symptoms of dryness, itching, and pain with sex improved significantly. In addition, their vaginal tissue cells showed healthier collagen and elastin levels and appeared more similar to younger vaginal tissue.  There were no reported bad outcomes or side effects.

Researchers continue to study other ways to use laser therapy for women’s health concerns. These include treating some of the more common concerning symptoms postpartum moms experience: stress urinary incontinence (leaking urine), pelvic floor laxity, and postpartum perineal pain. For example, one study showed a 70% reduction in symptoms in 32 women with “late postpartum pelvic pain” after three laser treatment sessions spaced 4-6 weeks apart. The symptoms which improved after the vaginal laser treatments were pain with intercourse, pain at the vaginal opening, vaginal dryness, itching, and vaginal burning.

What do the FDA and other Regulatory Agencies Say?

The problem, from the perspective of the U.S. FDA, the American College of OBGYN’s (ACOG), and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), is that we don’t know enough yet about the long-term safety and efficacy of vaginal laser therapy. As a result, on June 30, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned against the use of CO2 lasers for “vaginal rejuvenation” or treatment of symptoms of sexual dysfunction.

There are several problems with the research looking at vaginal laser therapy:

  1. The only available data comes from observational studies and is, therefore, less reliable. There have been no randomized trials or comparative effectiveness published studies looking at the efficacy and safety of vaginal laser therapy for vulvovaginal atrophy, urinary stress incontinence, or postpartum symptoms such as perineal pain.
  2. Existing research studies did not consider whether women were receiving additional treatments (such as vaginal estrogen cream or pelvic floor physical therapy) while receiving vaginal laser therapy.
  3. The studies also lack long-term follow-up (they only asked women about their symptoms for up to two years after completing treatment). As a result, we don’t know how long the effects of vaginal laser treatments last.
  4. Providers are concerned that vaginal laser therapy might cause long-term scarring of the vagina or vulva, leading to more pain or injury in future childbirth.

Wait to Seek Out Postpartum Vaginal Laser Therapy

The takeaway is that vaginal laser therapy does not yet have a place in routine postpartum care. As mentioned above, we do not yet know enough about its long-term safety. We also don’t know how long its effects might last. So while advertising and marketing make this technology seem very exciting, you might just want to wait a little bit longer before shining a powerful laser on your most sensitive lady parts.

Another worry for postpartum women is that research has not looked at how vaginal or vulvar tissue treated with laser handles a second vaginal delivery.  We also don’t know the ideal amount of time to wait before treating with laser therapy after childbirth.

ACOG and ACNM advocate trying standard, clinically proven treatments for postpartum symptoms such as painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, leaking urine, or pain. They advise any OBGYNs or midwives to use vaginal laser therapies cautiously and to inform their patients of their “unproven safety record fully.”

It is normal to feel perplexed or worried by the normal changes in your body postpartum. Don’t forget to seek out help from your doctor or midwife. They are your best source of accurate medical information. They can tell you all about the safe and effective treatments available to help you feel better. They are standing by to help you reclaim your amazing postpartum body, all without expensive, fancy laser treatments.

Sources:

  1. Samuels JB, Garcia MA. Treatment to External Labia and Vaginal Canal With CO2 Laser for Symptoms of Vulvovaginal Atrophy in Postmenopausal Women. Aesthet Surg J. 2019 Jan 1;39(1):83-93. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjy087. PMID: 29726916; PMCID: PMC6291777.
  2. Filippini M, Farinelli M, Lopez S, Ettore C, Gulino FA, Capriglione S. Postpartum perineal pain: may the vaginal treatment with CO2 laser play a key role in this challenging issue? J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2021 Apr;34(8):1190-1197. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2019.1628208. Epub 2019 Jun 17. PMID: 31164016.

The post Does Vaginal Laser Therapy Have a Place in Postpartum Care? appeared first on The Pulse.

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