In theory, curling up in your bed to indulge in endless relaxation during an exhausting pregnancy may seem like a dream, but in reality being placed on bed rest can come as a shock, an inconvenience, and may feel like a challenging sentence rather than a much deserved break while growing your baby. "Active contractions, bleeding, ruptured membranes, and placenta previa are the most common reasons that doctors call for bed rest in as many as one in five of their patients." Once these or other symptoms come up, bed rest is prescribed to keep baby in the womb for as long as possible. Lengths of bed rest for pregnant women can vary greatly, from a couple of weeks to nearly the entire duration of pregnancy. It is important, once your doctor or midwife instructs bed rest, that you discuss clear parameters for what you can and cannot physically do. Some moms-to-be may not even get out of bed, while others are still allowed to prepare light meals and move around their house on a limited basis. Here are seven tips for coping with bed rest during pregnancy.
1. Stay Connected, Seek Support
Bed rest can be very isolating, since you’ll be spending a great deal of time alone while everyone else remains on-the-go. If you have other kids, depending on how restricted you are, you’ll need to enlist the support of your partner, family or friends to help care for them. Share your condition with close friends and loved ones, and arrange to have visitors in person, or at the very least, via phone. Take advantage of kind offers for groceries, errands, childcare, cleaning, etc. The Web also a way to connect with other women who are on bed rest, to discuss everything from good movies to how to handle the stresses and family crises’ that go hand in hand with bed rest. Sidelines provides international support for families experiencing complicated pregnancies and facing premature birth. Yahoo! offers a Bed Rest Book Buddies group, and Babycenter offers a Bed Rest Club. If you’re on an extended bed rest, you will want to reach out to like-minded women who know how you feel and share your experience to help you get through this difficult time.
2. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
When you keep things in perspective, and realize you couldn’t be performing a bigger miracle or more important task than growing a human being, bed rest becomes more manageable. Even if you only have glimpses of this awareness, it will help get you through. Also keep in mind that this is a finite amount of time that will come to an end, and the result will be the birth of your child. If your anxiety over possibly having a premature baby is getting the best of you, ask your doctor if they can recommend a phone therapist or support group. Distract yourself by doing something productive: knitting your baby a blanket, compiling a scrapbook for your older children that you’ve never had time to do, order baby essentials online and finish with your preparations for welcoming your baby home.
3. Work from Home
Bed rest obviously forces many women (and their caregivers) to leave the workplace, which may cause even more stress due to financial losses. If your doctor or midwife approves of you working from your bed, have a conversation with your employer to see about setting up shop from home. Depending on your profession, many jobs may be performed via phone or email. If your particular job isn’t work-from-home friendly, consider asking your company for a temporary position that is. If you are on an extended bed rest for many months, you may even consider applying for online, telecommuting positions to earn an income.
4. Read, Relax, Research
If this is your first child, you will soon realize that your “me-time” as a parent becomes virtually nonexistent. Use this time to watch movies you’ve always wanted to watch, or to get lost in novels you’ve never had time to indulge in. Contact your local library regarding book delivery services for those who are confined to the home, get a subscription to Netflix so you can have movies delivered on a rotating basis. This is also a great time to start reading about labor and delivery, write your birth plan, hire a doula, and even look into taking child birth and newborn care preparation classes online.
5. Self-Improvement & Exercise
If you don’t have a laptop computer, rent one or borrow one from a friend, as it will be a vital portal to the outside world. Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language or take a course in graphic design? Bed rest is a great opportunity for self-improvement. Enroll in online courses and check some items off your bucket list. You may also spend this time writing the novel you’ve never had time to author, or finally crafting that patchwork quilt that has always eluded you.
Exercising your brain and mental health will help you cope with bed rest, and exercising your body to the extent you’re allowed will keep you in good health as well. Ask your doctor for exercises you may do in bed (many women are not allowed to exercise at all while on bed rest), to help keep you in shape and to promote circulation.
6. Get Pampered
Getting a prenatal massage, a manicure and pedicure, or a facial may do wonders for your outlook while on bed rest. Again, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife if all of the above are allowed, given your specific condition. Call your local spas and ask them to refer you to massage therapists, nail technicians and facialists who make house calls — or ask friends for referrals.
7. Bond with Your Husband/Partner/Children
In today’s demanding world, many families are running around at a frantic pace which leaves little time to connect with loved ones. Being placed on bed rest can result in a lot of family stress and strife as the dynamics and routine of your household are turned upside down — and there’s little left in your control while you depend on others for care. There’s nothing romantic or glamorous about bed rest, (sex is usually completely out of the cards), but it does force you to slow down, or come to a severe halt in your daily life. The silver lining of bed rest may be sleeping in and enjoying breakfast in bed with your partner in the middle of the week, or curling up in bed and watching late night movies — teaching your child how to sew or play Chess, and bonding with your family in ways you never previously had time for.