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Bed Rest During Pregnancy

Sometimes things may not go according to plan. Your pregnancy may be ridden with problems that require you to stay confined to bed either for a short period or for the entire course of your pregnancy. It can be hard but doctor's orders are doctor's orders, especially when you consider the stakes at hand, you have no choice but to go along with it. 1 in 5 or 20% of pregnant women are told to rest for a week or more at some point of their pregnancy. For some, bed rest means being in bed round the clock and getting up only to use the bathroom. For others bed rest is less restrictive - frequent rests in bed but you can go out occasionally in the car to visit your doctor perhaps, and fix your meals or take a shower.

Why the Confinement

  • Complications that can send you to confinement can happen either in early pregnancy or in the later part of pregnancy.
  • Unexplained bleeding and the threat of miscarrying are the most common reasons for confinement in early pregnancy
  • In later pregnancy, the threat of preterm labor, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, incompetent cervix, premature rupture of membranes, IUGR and heart disease are reasons why bed rest will be prescribed.
  • Bed rest is a treatment - lying in bed on your side takes the pressure of the baby's weight off your cervix; it maximizes the blood flow to your uterus which in turn delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the baby and finally, it prolongs the pregnancy when there is a need for it.

The Controversy, the Pros and Cons..

  • As a treatment method, bed rest isn't without controversy
  • First it is often recommended when the cervix is weak or the uterus has a problem. To take the baby's weight off a weak cervix, bed rest is recommended but there is no concrete evidence to suggest that this helps.
  • Second this treatment is prescribed in IUGR, hypertension or preeclampsia with the hope that bed rest will improve blood flow to the uterus thereby upping the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the developing fetus - again there is no proof that it really benefits.
  • Emotionally it is exhausting for the mother-to-be to be restricted in movements and an inconvenience to both her and her family members.
  • Health-wise the woman stands to develop blood clots and muscle atrophy if the confinement is very restrictive and long; she becomes weaker and more tired as she adjusts to everyday demands when her bed rest order is removed.
  • Despite these, doctors still prescribe bed rest in the face of pregnancy complications because it seems harmless and worth a try. It is best to discuss with your doctor on the pros and cons if such an order is issued to you.

Make the most of It

Be sure to understand what your doctor means by this proposal of bed rest. Is it total bed rest which means sponge baths, meals in bed or you have the privilege of using the bathroom and fixing your own meals? Check if stairs are allowed, if you can engage in some mental stress which office work brings and any other queries you may have which is related to lifestyle changes.

  • Think positive: Don't dwell on why this is happening with you. Instead think about how much time you have on your hands now to do exactly as you please. This may be the only time in your whole adult life that you will have so much time to do just what you want to do. Focus on what you are doing for your baby and on the benefits to you of resting and relaxing.
  • Stay comfy: Since you are going to be a lot in bed now, may as well create a comfortable stay. Position your bed near the window so you can enjoy the daytime light (a couch if repositioning your bed is not feasible). Move everything you need within reach i.e. television, sound system, laptop, refrigerator, magazine rack. Arrange bedside snacks and stock your fridge (don't forget to snack and drink right).
  • Establish a daily routine: Stick to regular day time activities like changing into daytime clothes when you wake up instead of staying in your PJs all day, showering or sponging daily and eating your meals on time to. This will keep your body on a schedule. Comb your hair, put on some lipstick if you like. Nap if you need to but not too much so that it doesn't interfere with your nighttime sleep and go to bed the usual time. Staying clean and fresh and doing things the way you would otherwise keeps your mind off sleep and your predicament.
  • Do the things you enjoy: Read novels, watch your favorite programs, listen to music on your headphones, surf the internet, catch up with your friends over the phone, study a language or knit something for your baby. Keep reading materials, phone, remote control and other materials nearby.
  • Bond with your baby: Though the reason for the bed rest is due to the possibility of losing your baby, while each drop of blood you lose or each contraction you experience brings home this fear, you should not stop from forming a bond with your unborn child. This is the ideal time to contemplate on your pregnancy and bond with the baby. Remember a good majority of women go on to deliver healthy babies after being confined.
  • Pamper yourself: Use this time to get a good massage from a massage therapist at least once a week. A head to toe massage or a facial by a qualified person in your home premises will relax you and you have something to look forward to. What better time than now!
  • Keep fit: With your doctor's permission, do some light isometric exercises with your arms and legs while in bed such as calf stretches and leg lifts and some upper arm exercises. Circulation will improve along with your muscles and mood.
  • Work from bed: While you cannot do errands that require legwork, you can engage in mental work while lying down - balance checkbook, work on a laptop, make appointments, order groceries online or call for delivery, help with children's homework or any other paperwork.
  • Change rooms: Spend the day in another room or section of the house other than your bedroom. Use the family room or living room for day time activities.
  • Don't overdo it when the ban is lifted: When you finally get out of bed let everyone know that you are going to ease back into routine but will still require a lot of help and rest. The aches and pains of having remained so long in bed will ease over the next few days and you will go back to being your usual active self soon enough. In the meantime don't be in a hurry and stay focused on your goal - bring your baby to term.

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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