While you might think that getting sent to bed for the duration of your pregnancy would be a welcome break, most women who end up on bedrest find it physically and emotionally exhausting. Not only are they subject to a variety of different physical ailments, including increased fatigue and soreness, they may feel cut off from the rest of the world and worried about their baby's well-being.
While bedrest isn't without its challenges, it may be helpful in improving the outcome for both mother and baby in certain high-risk pregnancy situations (e.g., if a woman is carrying three or more babies, has a medical condition such as pre-eclampsia or a placental abruption, or is threatening to go into preterm labor).
Bedrest helps to reduce the strain on the mother's heart, improves blood
flow to the kidneys, increases blood circulation to the uterus, reduces
blood levels of catecholamines (the stress hormones responsible for
triggering contractions), eases the pressure on the cervix, reduces the
amount of physical activity (something that, in turn, helps to limit the
number of uterine contractions) and conserves the mother's energy so that
she'll have more nutrients available to support her baby's growth.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind if you end up on bedrest:
Make sure that you understand what your doctor means by bedrest. Are you allowed to get out of bed to have a shower or to go to the bathroom? Because the health and well-being of your baby is at stake, you'll want to be clear about what is and isn't recommended.
Ask your doctor to suggest some exercises that can be done while you're
Depending on the nature of your medical condition, your doctor may give you the go-ahead to do pelvic tilts, Kegel exercises, gluteal sets, leg, ankle and heel raises, knee extensions, arm raises, shoulder shrugs and wrist and leg circles. Note: It's important to check with your doctor before attempting any type of exercise.
Create a bedrest-friendly environment. Ask friends and family members to gather up all the items that you may need and to place them within easy reach. Some of the items you may wish to have within grabbing distance include a cordless phone, a telephone book, a radio, a cassette tape player or CD player, the remote control for the TV or stereo, the TV guide, a box of tissues, a cooler that's stocked with cold beverages and healthy meals and snacks, a Thermos full of decaffeinated tea or coffee or soup, books on tape and plenty of reading material.
Remain focused on your goal. While it's boring and tedious to be
stuck on bedrest, the sacrifices that you're making today will all be worth
it in the end if you end up with a healthy baby.