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You're Pregnant and Your Doctor Has Prescribed Bed Rest: 10 Tips For Surviving

Aug 12, 2008
Your doctor just told you he recommends bed rest because your pregnancy is now at risk for premature delivery. It could be that you are having contractions and you need to reduce your activity. Or it could be that your cervix has shortened too much. There could be any number of reasons why you now find yourself on bed rest to wait out the remainder of your pregnancy.

In some respects you might be thankful for the forced reduction in activity. At first you're grateful for a few days to rest and catch-up on some reading. But then what? How are you going to occupy yourself for the next week or the next four months?

If you work outside of the home it's probable that your co-workers or your boss will consider your bed rest an inconvenience and voice their jealousy that you "get" to sit around and enjoy your days. Your partner might make jokes too and feel burdened by his increased responsibilities. It will be important for you to communicate to the people in your life how difficult it is to be on bed rest.

What follows are ten tips for surviving your bed rest. Some are most useful if you are at home while on bed rest; some are most helpful if you will be in the hospital during this time. Several of the tips apply no matter where your bed rest takes place.

If you are on bed rest at home:

Establish a routine. Days can seem like they will never end if you don't have anything to do. Plan your daily activities to help break time into increments, and give yourself tasks to accomplish. For example, schedule the timing of your meals similar to a typical pre-bed rest day; this will help you to feel "normal."

Prepare for the delivery of your baby. You might not be able to paint the nursery or assemble the new crib, but there are other things you can do to prepare for the arrival of your little one. Have your partner wash the baby items; you can then fold the blankets and clothes. You'll feel productive and it will help you bond with your baby. Also, instead of going to the mall, you could do your shopping online.

If you are on bed rest in the hospital:

Utilize hospital activities. If you are hospitalized for preterm labor, chances are you'll be on a muscle relaxer, such as magnesium sulfate, so reading and activities that require good vision won't be feasible. Even movies will be hard to watch. Instead, ask the hospital what types of activities they can bring to you. Many offer pet therapy, massage, music therapy, and much more. Utilize their offerings, assuming you are up for visitors.

Ask questions. When you are in the hospital, the risk of your baby being born too soon is a probability. Take this time to ask the doctors and nurses questions. If you don't know the questions to ask, let them know that and ask them to help you understand any information they can share.

Ask for wheelchair privileges. Sometimes you might be allowed the opportunity to leave your room for a short wheelchair ride. Use this time to sit outside if the weather is nice, or ride by the hospital garden.
No matter where your bed rest takes place:

Minimize your TV & movies. Even though there is not much to do while lying in your bed or on the couch, your days will be long and boring if all you do is watch television or movies.

Read a book (assuming you're not on magnesium sulfate). Read about breastfeeding or what to expect when your bundle of joy arrives. You'll have time to read the book thoroughly and you'll feel more comfortable about what to expect.

Get rest. Even though you're on bed rest, it's likely that you are not taking naps or getting enough rest. This is especially true if you are hospitalized as someone will be in your room every four or six hours. Consider keeping a sleep schedule or posting a do not disturb sign on your door.

Seek support. Most of your friends and family have day jobs so they don't have time to stop by or phone you during your waking hours. You may feel very lonely, but remember that even if your friends are busy at work they are still thinking about you. Better BedRest, Inc. is an advocacy, public awareness, and volunteer-driven non-profit whose purpose is to provide support, resources, and information to pregnant women who are prescribed bed rest by their physicians or midwives. Consider contacting them for someone to talk you on a regular basis who can answer some of your questions or help reduce your anxiety. They have a website you can visit.

Have date nights. If you are in the hospital you would probably enjoy some food not cooked in massive quantities and if you are at home your partner could use a break from cooking and cleaning. Allow yourselves one or two nights per week where you order out and spend time enjoying each other and a good meal.

Best rest is often misunderstood as most people think it would be wonderful to sit around and do nothing. What they don't realize is that it quickly becomes monotonous and hard on your body to remain inactive. Finding little activities and establishing a routine can make the days bearable while you await the light at the end of the tunnel - the birth of your child(ren)!
About the Author
Kelly K. Damron is the author of Tiny Toes: A Couple's Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression. Damron is the mother of twin girls conceived via IVF and born 10 weeks premature. She is an advocate for the infertile and prematurity communities. To learn more about her book visit: Tiny Toes.
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