When Bed Rest is Best: Tips to Survive Mandatory Downtime

BedRestPutting your feet up is not as relaxing as it seems when it’s under doctor’s orders. An estimated 20 percent of pregnant women end up on some level of bed rest due to medical complications.

Bed rest can be prescribed to help prevent pre-term labor, if you have an issue with your placenta, a weak cervix, or a myriad of other issues. There are drawbacks, however. Immobility causes muscles to weaken, weight loss is common and blood clots are a possibility. Plus the stress of feeling helpless can take an emotional toll on an expectant mother.

But if your doctor prescribes bed rest and you trust that decision, you can make the most of the downtime.

For Your Mind:

  • Take an online class to exercise your mind. Explore a new area of interest!
  • Buy some audiotapes and learn a new language. You can whisper secret lullabies to your baby later.
  • Write letters to family and friends. You might start looking forward to the mail everyday.
  • Start a book club. Ask your friends to meet at your house, or find one online.
  • Try knitting or crocheting. You can make plenty of cute baby blankets and hats.
  • A support network is important for day-to-day tasks. Let your family and friends know you will take all the help you can get. If someone offers to bring dinner or do your laundry, let them.

For Your Body:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and add fiber to your diet to avoid constipation.
  • Stand up and stretch, or at least stretch your muscles in bed. This will ease your muscles and help your circulation.
  • Don’t nap too much. You want to keep your regular day/night sleep routine.
  • Use pillows or a foam wedge to keep your head higher than your stomach to avoid indigestion or reflux.
  • If your doctor approves light activity during the day, don’t use that time to do anything strenuous. Take a short walk, a relaxing shower or grab coffee with a friend. Leave the heavy lifting to someone else.

Lying around takes more work than you may anticipate. Many mothers on bed rest experience a spectrum of emotions, from guilt and depression to anxiety. Remind yourself daily that you are doing what is best for your baby. Even if the dishes pile up as you lie in bed, that still makes you a great mom.