Your Baby Today

For Mom-to-Be

How to Make Bed Rest Bearable

How to Make Bed Rest Bearable

Bed rest. Two words that every woman fears hearing during pregnancy. Yet therapeutic positioning, the medical term for bed rest, is surprisingly common: Roughly one in five women spends part of her pregnancy in bed. It's considered a "treatment" for a host of pregnancy-related issues. Those who experience bleeding, or are in danger of miscarrying or delivering too early, or who have pre-eclampsia, an incompetent cervix, premature ruptures of membranes, or chronic heart disease, are often required to stay in bed (or on a sofa) for days, weeks, or even months during pregnancy.

Lying down, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, lowers stress on mom's heart, kidneys and other organs, and reduces the pressure of the baby on the cervix, which in turn decreases the risk of premature contractions. Rest also increases blood flow to the placenta so baby gets more nutrients and oxygen.

If your physician has sent you home to bed, here are some tips to help you cope until you're back on your feet:


  • Get Specific Parameters
    Ask your physician exactly what she means by bed rest: Do you need to lie in a certain position, i.e. on one side or the other, propped up, or with your feet up? Are you to be in bed for a certain number of hours each day, or all day?

  • Find Out What "Activities" You Can Safely Do on Your Feet
    Can you get up to shower and use the bathroom, or must you have sponge baths and use a bedpan? Can you stand long enough to cook one meal a day? Can you care for your other children? If you work, can you do your job from home?

  • Inquire About Exercises
    Ask your physician if you can safely do any exercises to keep your blood flowing and your muscles loose. He might say that kegels, deep breathing exercises, pelvic tilts, neck circles and even leg lifts are safe to do. If you can't handle these kinds of movements, be sure to do a series of deep breaths every 20 minutes or so, and to wiggle your fingers and toes to keep your blood circulating.

  • Rearrange the Furniture
    Ask your partner to set up a room where you will be comfortable for the duration of your bed rest. You will probably want to have easy access to things like a television and remote control, telephone, books, magazines, paper and pen, etc.

  • Accept All Offers of Help
    This is no time to prove how strong you are. When neighbors, friends, family and your spouse offer to cook, clean, and care for you, don't feel guilty about saying yes.

  • Treat Yourself
    Fill a basket with your favorite hand cream, nail polish, lip balm, a hairbrush, make-up, etc. so you can indulge in some pampering when you're bored.

  • Think About Your Baby
    No matter how difficult bed rest is, remember that you're doing the best thing for your baby.

  • Find Support
    For more information about making the most of bed rest, visit The Sidelines Website, a support group devoted to helping pregnant women in your condition.


About The Author

Dana Sullivan is a frequent contributor to Your Baby Today. Her work has also been published in Parenting, Fit Pregnancy, and Self. She's mom to Liam, 4, and Julia, 2.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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