Coping With Bed Rest
Aim for understanding
If you're reading this, you probably already know how stressful bed rest can be. Life goes on around you, while you're stuck in bed. Sometimes you may almost feel invisible. Right now, I want you to resolve to do two things that may not come easily. But I promise you, they will help. First, swallow your pride and your independence and accept any help that you're offered. If your friend wants to bring dinner over, great! If your mother-in-law wants to do your laundry, terrific! Now is the time to give up your superwoman tendencies once and for all. If friends call with offers to help, be prepared with a list of specific jobs they can do. Add some little things for yourself to the list, like picking up a bouquet of flowers for your room. And don't forget your husband--if he's busy taking care of you, when will he find the time to mow the lawn and change the oil in the car?
Second, find someone, whether it's your husband, sister, mother, best friend, minister, or therapist, who will listen to you whine, moan, worry, complain and cry. Talk to this person regularly. When so many people see bed rest as a mini-vacation, you need someone who will listen, empathize, and remind you what a wonderful thing you're doing for your baby.
Now Fire Up Your Laptop
If you've followed the instructions above, a small army of volunteers is now taking care of your basic physical and emotional needs. Unfortunately, you're still bored out of your mind. Here are some ideas about how you can use your laptop and your Internet connection to pass the time, do something productive, and maybe even feel like part of the real world again.
1. Check out the Sidelines National Support Network, a support group especially for moms confined to bed rest. Check the chat schedule for times when you can connect with other moms in bed. While you're at the website, sign up to be matched with a volunteer phone or e-mail buddy who will offer emotional support for the rest of your pregnancy. Find Sidelines at www.sidelines.org.
2. Work on your birth plan. Find out now from your caregivers what, if any, special procedures will be needed for your labor and delivery (IV line? Continuous monitoring? Cesarean birth?). Now, working within these constraints, think about what's most important to you for the birth. Put your plan down in writing and be sure to discuss it with your caregivers to make sure it's realistic for your situation. And remember that when it comes down to it, birth can't be planned any more than the course of pregnancy can be. But if you let your caregivers know what's most important to you and why, they may be able to help you make good compromises if your perfect birth is impossible.
You can draft a plan here with this comprehensive interactive birth planner.
3. Learn all you can about prematurity. If it looks like your baby may be coming a little (or a lot) early, hard knowledge can help you stop worrying and start making plans. The Parents of Preemies site offers easy-to-understand medical information about survival and disability rates and your baby's development.
The American Association for Premature Infants maintains a learning center as part of its website.
4. Finalize the plans for baby's name. Having a name for your little one can make it easier for you to identify with the little one -- and can help you make it through each day. Keep in mind that ultrasounds are not 100% accurate for sex -- pick a boy's name and a girl's name. If family names are appealing, e-mail both sets of parents and ask them for lists. Don't rule out using surnames as first names! Check out Pregnancy & Baby's baby name resources for more naming hints and helps.
5. Learn to knit or crochet and make something for the baby. You may find that the rhythmic motions of crocheting and knitting help you calm down and relax. If you don't already know how, tutorials are available online, as well as free patterns for baby blankets, clothing, and gear. You can order supplies online or call local stores, explain what your situation and what you need, and send your partner out to pick up your order.
6. Find a mailing list on one of your interests and sign up. Mailing lists let people with common interests exchange information via e-mail. Members send messages to the list address and they are forwarded to all members. Liszt is a mailing list directory; eGroups hosts a lot of different lists. Go to these pages and search on your interests to find likely matches and directions on how to subscribe and mailing list etiquette. One likely candidate: eGroups' bed rest support list.
Also be sure to check out lists that are not pregnancy-related -- you can locate groups about almost any hobby, pick up post-baby family vacation tips, and find all kinds of other conversations. Be forewarned: some discussion mailing lists generate a lot of e-mail!
7. Order the rest of baby's layette and other needs. You probably had planned to spend a few weekends shopping for your baby's gear some time closer to your due date. Fortunately, everything you need -- from car seats to preemie clothes, cribs and bedding, strollers, layette, and much more -- is available on the Internet. See some of these sites to finish checking off your list.
8. Read birth stories. Reading stories about others in similar situations may remind you that you can do it too! But if everyone from your boss to the checker at the supermarket has already told you her birth story and they just make you more anxious and nervous, skip it. Start with Pregnancy & Baby's birth stories collection.
9. Stay in touch. E-mail all of those old friends you haven't had time to correspond with. If you've totally lost touch, try these online resources to locate lost friends:
Try these sites for missing high school and college classmates:
10. Take a childbirth class on video, or find a childbirth educator who will teach you and your partner at home. For general information, a video is an economical choice. If you have specific questions about how to prepare for labor and delivery within the framework of your high-risk pregnancy, individual teaching might be your best bet. But beware: It's expensive! First, decide which approach suits you best.