My fiancé and I have been busy preparing over the recent months for the arrival of our first child in June. We've had a lot to do - decorating the nursery, building new furniture and of course mentally preparing for the fact that our lives are never going to be the same again!
We also share our home with our dog and cat, so we've had to consider the impact the inevitable changes that our new arrival will have on them, as although they have both met young children before, neither have shared their home with a small baby.
When preparing your pets for big life changing events, it's a good idea to consider their individual personalities, their likes, dislikes and what you think they might struggle with.
For example my dog Nubo, although extremely social with everyone and anything, is likely to get overly excited when the baby arrives and also when I have visitors to my home.
I could manage this by excluding him from the lounge and keeping him out of the way, but as Nubo is an important part of our lives, I want to help him, by teaching him how I would like him to behave in these situations.
I've also been getting him used to being behind a stair gate for the times that I need him to be apart from me, for example when any of the health care professionals visit. I understand that not everyone will appreciate my dog's enthusiastic greetings, especially when they have a job to do!
Fortunately, like most dogs, Nubo loves a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese (I freeze these to make them last longer), so popping him behind a stair gate is now something that he looks forward to and expects regularly.
Not all pregnancies go smoothly and not being able to walk your dog as much as you once did, can be a concern for mums to be - it was certainly something I was worried about.
Nubo's exercise routine changed considerably in the middle of my pregnancy as I did experience some discomfort, meaning that I could not walk as far and still can't. Although I asked for help from family and friends where I could, I found that he adapted to fewer walks much better than I expected. His expectations have gradually changed over the months and as long as I keep him occupied with a few more games and extra training he settles very well.
We sometimes forget that dogs find learning new tricks and skills mentally tiring, so it's good to remember that we can do other activities with them to ensure that they get the stimulation they need. Having said this, I am very much looking forward to the time where we can all fully enjoy the outdoors again, with our new addition of course!
We've also had to consider the challenges our cat Keiko is likely to face when the baby arrives.
He's the sort of cat that becomes frustrated with closed doors, and several years ago he did develop a spraying problem when Nubo had a skin condition with an unusual odour.
Although resolved now, we know that barriers and new smells brought into the house might be difficult for him, so we've prepared well in advance to ensure that he gets used to all the changes before the baby is born.
We started early and gradually added the necessities - so far he has shown no signs of being stressed, which is fantastic (he even has the odd snooze in the bottom of the pushchair!).
Giving your cat a safe place
Like most cats, he prefers to observe what's going on from up high, so we've build special "cat shelves" for him in our lounge and bedroom. He spends a considerable amount of time relaxing on these already and we know this place of safety will be invaluable to him not only once the baby arrives, but when we have lots of visitors too as he can be overwhelmed easily.
We also bought a CD featuring baby sounds to acclimatise both animals to these odd and potentially startling new noises that will frequently be heard around the house.
Most pets will adapt extremely well to the changes that a new baby will bring to the home; however it's important to remember that without any preparation, this could be an extremely stressful time for them. Sadly, this can result in people needing to find their pets a new home.
Pets are an important and established part of our family and home lives, and just like us will be facing new experiences, worries and adjustments with the arrival of a baby.
So just as you make yourself and your home ready for the big changes, ensure that the individual needs of your pets are also addressed and incorporated into these preparations to help provide a much less stressful transition for both them and you.
Visit Blue Cross website for more advice -