For a lot of healthy and busy pregnant women, being put on bed rest sounds like a great idea. Who wouldn’t like to take a couple of days to catch up on sleep and delegate every chore to someone else?
But bed rest is neither so simple nor so very pleasant. For one thing, being put on bed rest during your pregnancy by definition means that there is a problem.
Why Bed Rest?
Problems that can make a doctor tell a pregnant woman to reduce her activity levels, stay in bed, or even be admitted to the hospital include:
- Problems with blood pressure that can include preeclampsia
- Bleeding from the vagina, which could be caused by problems with the placenta, such as placenta previa, where the placenta is too low in the uterus, or placental abruption, where the placenta has started to detach from the uterus.
- A cervix that has started to dilate or open too early
- Premature labor
- Multiples, especially triplets or more
- A history of miscarriage or stillbirth
What Is Bed Rest?
You would think that “bed rest” would be pretty self-explanatory, but it isn’t. What kind of bed rest you may need and how long you need to stay on bed rest will depend on what your underlying condition is. It can vary a great deal and may also vary over the course of the rest of your pregnancy. If your condition improves, your doctor may allow you to move around more.
In the minimal bed rest scenario, your doctor may just ask you to sit with your feet up as much as possible. You will probably be told not to lift anything heavy (which includes your other children and bags of groceries) and avoid heavy housework, but in some situations you may be able to go to work as long as your job isn’t stressful and you are sitting most of the time.
A next level up would be to tell you to stay in bed as much as possible, but allow you to sit up in your bed or sit in a recliner with your feet up. You may be allowed to walk to the bathroom or take a quick shower.
The most serious levels of bed rest would include staying horizontal full-time, and possibly tell you to stay lying on your side. You would need to take sponge baths and use a bedpan. This level of bed rest may require that you to be hospitalized.
Talk to your doctor about what you are allowed to do (and how long you are allowed to do it) and what you should not do. He or she should give you specifics about the level of activity that will be safe for you.
How to Cope with Bed Rest
Being confined to a bed for weeks or even months can be tiresome, to put it mildly. Essentially, you are being kept in a 400-thread-count prison and that can be emotionally trying.
Hobbies can help you pass the time. This is the time to become a movie fanatic and binge-watching expert. Stock up on books and reading material. It is also a good time to take up knitting, crocheting, or embroidery. Organize your photo albums. Conduct genealogy research on the internet. Have friends over to visit. Make new friends in on-line pregnancy and parenting forums.
It can help to keep to a schedule for your day so that you feel more in control and that you are accomplishing something. Remember, there is a purpose and an end in sight for all this—a healthy baby. Your bed rest is helping you achieve that.
What have your experiences been like with bed rest? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.