Your nine-month venture leading to parenthood will inevitably entail a variety of bumps in the road, even if you have sailed through a prior pregnancy with flying colors. One unexpected hurdle that as many as one in five women face during pregnancy is a requirement for bed rest. |
Each year, health care professionals will prescribe bed rest to more than half a million expectant mothers. A doctor may recommend bed rest in response to a medical condition or symptom that puts the health of the baby and/or mother at high risk - multiple pregnancies, high blood pressure (hypertension), pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, vaginal bleeding, and premature labor, for example.
Positive Effects of Bed Rest
Bed rest has been shown to alleviate symptoms and reduce risk for complications. Established benefits include:
Because each pregnancy and every woman is unique, your experience with bed rest may vary; some women are placed on bed rest early on and then released, whereas others spend what seems like their entire pregnancies in bed.
- Decreasing physical and emotional stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduction in vaginal bleeding
- Restriction of premature contractions
- Facilitation of blood flow to the placenta
It is important that you discuss both the specific details and the exact requirements of your bed rest with your health care provider. Some cases require stringent adherence, but milder conditions may allow for a little more flexibility.
Some questions you may want to ask your health care provider include:
Once you've discovered what your limitations are, you can come up with a plan of action to help manage and survive your bed rest experience.
- Am I allowed to get out of bed to shower and use the bathroom?
- Can I get up to prepare a quick meal for myself?
- Do I need to lie in a particular position?
- Am I allowed to sit up?
- May I drive to my appointments?
- Is sexual activity safe?
- Am I allowed to sit on the couch?
- Can I pick up my other children while sitting?
Bed Rest Activities for Busy Mothers Though well-intentioned friends and family might joke that bed rest is a picnic, it is actually quite confining and frustrating (not to mention boring!) for many moms-to-be. Fortunately there are several things you can do to make the most of your time in bed:
- Catch up on parenting reading. This is the perfect time to absorb everything you can from parenting books about your newborn before he makes his appearance known to the world.
- Start a scrapbook. If you have other children, and you're behind on scrap-booking, this is a great time to catch up. If you're on top of things, why not start a book or album for the newest member of your family, or keep a pregnancy journal? Be sure to jot down everything you need in advance and send a family member to get your supplies.