At first glance, bed rest sounds like a blessing. Who wouldn’t want to be told to stay in bed? But that doesn’t mean you can take it lightly. Being put on bed rest can mean complications in your pregnancy and the reality of restricted movement can be hard to bear. By following the doctor’s orders closely and preparing yourself (and your bedroom) for the challenge you’ll get through it with ease.
How serious is bed rest?
It sounds like a fun day off in your PJs, but being put on bed rest is actually much more serious. Kathy Fray knows a thing or two when it comes to pregnancy. She was a practising midwife for over 10 years and is now a best-selling author and research Midwife at Auckland University. We asked her to explain what’s so serious about bed rest:
“An Obstetrician ordering bed rest in pregnancy is actually kind of serious, and should be strictly adhered to. If they admit you for bed rest, that means they are poised ready to dash you to theatre in a few minutes notice for an Emergency C-Section. If they send you home on bed rest, it is less serious, but means they are relying on you to adhere to that strict instruction and to return to hospital promptly if your symptoms of concern return.
The reason for bed rest can be anatomical such as a placenta praevia (placenta implanted over the cervical exit) bleeding when you move. Or, the reason can be physiological (such as escalating pre-eclampsic toxaemia of worsening pregnancy-induced High Blood Pressure). But whatever the reason, compliance by the patience becomes critically important.”
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6 ways to prepare for bed rest
1. Find out the nitty gritty details
There’s more than one kind of bed rest so you need to be specific with your doctor about what they mean. For example, modified bed rest is code for rest whenever possible and take more breaks throughout your day. But restrictive bed rest means you should avoid excessive activity and spend most of your time in bed. Knowing exactly what you’re meant to do will help you understand how cautious you should be. Remember there’s no such thing as a dumb question - or an off limits one! Getting all the answers you seek about things like driving, housework and even sex will mean you can feel confident in your ability to care for yourself.
2. The all-important bed
Bed rest may not mean you literally can’t leave bed, but it does mean you’ll be putting your feet up at some point. If you’re on a more restrictive bed rest then a comfortable bed is the most important start. Refresh a sad mattress with an affordable, quick-fix mattress topper. It’ll add instant comfort and padding to keep you cheery all day long. Another important bed feature is a supportive headboard. Sitting or laying in an awkward position will only get you a sore back and potentially be further damaging to your condition. Keep a straight posture for longer by giving yourself a stiff backing to lean against.
Kathy also shared with us the best position for bed rest:
"Left or right side rest is strongly preferable to lying on your back, especially in the third trimester. And if the woman goes to sleep on her side, then wakes up on her back, she simply needs to lie back onto her side to return to sleep."
3. Perfect the entertainment set-up
A lot of us love sneaking our laptop into bed to watch movies and TV when we’re sick. But bed rest may be more long-term than your usual cold or flu. If you’re expecting to be on rest for a long period then consider bringing your TV into the bedroom. It’ll save your neck and back from hunching over a tiny screen and all you need is the right-sized TV cabinet to pop it on.
4. Call in the troops
Even the super mums need a helping hand sometimes. It’s more difficult than you think to stay immobile so be sure to ask friends and family for help. They could care for your other children, put a dent in the housework so you have more free time with your partner or just come around for a visit so you’re not alone all day.
5. Check in with your emotions
Bed rest is not just a fun way to finish off your pregnancy; it indicates possible complications and risks to yours or your baby’s health. It’s normal for you to feel worried at this time and it’s important to share those feelings; whether it’s with your partner, your friends or with a community of other mums who’ve had the same experience.
6. Stay productive
Eventually the shine will wear off and doing very little during your day will feel like more of a curse. The best thing you can do is be productive with your time so that you at least feel mentally challenged throughout the day. Simple things like showering daily, organising the family photos into albums and doing the grocery shopping online will keep your spirits up.
Your health is top priority so listen carefully to your doctor’s orders. Taking bed rest seriously is important, but so is enjoying the rest of your pregnancy. Find a safe middle by setting yourself up for a restful and enjoyable end to your pregnancy journey.