How to Make Bed Rest Bearable
By Dana Sullivan
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.
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
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
- 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.