Bedrest might be recommended while you are at home or you might be admitted to the hospital for bedrest. Bedrest is recommended for various reasons and for various lengths of time. Sometimes your doctor will want you to stay off your feet for a few days after a procedure early in your pregnancy or if you are experiencing vaginal bleeding. Some mothers are put on strict bedrest for months at a time. Many mothers restrict their own activities because they feel that their body needs to take it easy. Some women adjust easily to bedrest while others find it more difficult. Remembering that you are doing this for your babies usually makes bedrest easier. It really is for only a short time even though some days might feel like forever! – Dr. John Elliott
Limiting physical activity helps alleviate or prevent stress on the mother’s vital organs, such as the heart, kidneys or circulatory system. It increases blood flow to the uterus and conserves energy, increasing the nutrients directed towards the babies. Equally importantly, it takes pressure off the cervix and may help keep the uterus from contracting, reducing the risk of preterm labor.
“Bedrest” might mean one thing to you and something else to your doctor. Even doctors and health professionals can mean different activity levels with the term “bedrest”. To help you know what level of bedrest your doctor wants you to follow, use our Bedrest Activity Checklist, found under the Pregnancy heading on our website (Yes, you can print it!). We encourage you to use this list to clarify with your health care provider what you are allowed to do and in what amount.
Tips for Managing Bedrest
Bedrest sounds so much easier than it actually is: physically, mentally and emotionally. The following are many of the different emotions expectant mothers have described feeling while on bedrest:
· A loss of independence as a result of a reduction in activity level, inability to care for family and perhaps even total dependence on others
· Feelings of inadequacy because you are not able to have a “normal” pregnancy like other women, are not able to work outside the home or care for other children and your household.
· Feelings of helplessness/loss of control may be experienced by both parents due to an inability to change the situation. Partners may feel overburdened by an increased work-load at home or financial burdens.
· Feelings of isolation or being different from other having “normal” pregnancies and being confined to home, bed or the hospital. Support systems normally available through work or outside activities may be gone due to activity restrictions or hospital isolation. You may be worried about your health and the well-being of your unborn children.
· Feeling misunderstood when others say you are lucky to get to “rest” and “lie around all day” when bedrest and gestating is actually the expectant mothers “work” right now and must be taken seriously. Some of the medications and treatments are also not much fun.
· The major shift in household responsibilities means the entire burden of the household is now on the co-parent or is a huge concern for a single mother or one with a partner not able or willing to help.
· Frustration caused by watching other parents excitedly prepare for their baby’s birth and not being able to do this. Expectant parents of multiples may be unable to make decisions or preparations due to uncertainty of the outcome especially if they have had past pregnancy losses. Sometimes people try to help by saying “everything will be all right” but parents know this is not always the case.
· The financial demands of going from a double to a single income when medical bills are rising especially when the mother may have carried the insurance or been a major financial contributor.
Expecting mothers have found online support groups to be a safe place to share anxieties during this time. Relaxation techniques, having someone who can listen and knowing that someone else has been in a similar situation can also be helpful in decreasing stress during bedrest.
Here are 20 tips and ideas from Sidelines of Oregon to help you manage bedrest.
1. Wear clothes during the day if possible and be neat and clean: keep up personal hygiene
2. Set goals, keep them in mind and focus on WHY you are doing this not WHAT you are doing
3. Shop by phone or online
4. Plan your weekly meal menus and organize the grocery list.
5. Consider using a grocery delivery services from your local store or online
6. Do crossword, word-search or jigsaw puzzles
7. Have visitors but only when you feel up to it. Watch favorite shows together
8. Do something special for yourself such as having someone come in to give a manicure, pedicure or facial
9. Keep a journal of your pregnancy and a calendar to chart your progress.
10. Focus on how far you have come, not how far you have to go
11. Listen to books on tape or learn a new language with tapes from the library
12. Make a list of tasks people can do for you, so when they ask, you can easily offer them a choice.
13. Request a childbirth class in the home if available
14. Have a “date” with your partner with take out food and candles
15. Do craft projects such as cross stitch, needlepoint, knitting, etc. to make something special for the babies or someone else
16. Do passive bedrest exercises with approval from your physician.
17. Read books on high-risk pregnancy, multiples, and premature babies such as our book Expecting Multiples: The Most Comprehensive Guide to High-risk Twin & All Triplet, Quadruplet or More Pregnancies 2nd Edition
18. Pay bills, compile tax data, reorganize files or update your address book
19. Order and address birth announcements
20. Call a friend or relative or other support person. Find someone who understands your fears and hopes. And of course, you can reach out to us!