Bedrest in pregnancy – a reality for so many twin moms, and for any diagnosed high-risk pregnancy. Bedrest has many meanings depending on the specific complications and the health of the mother and babies.
Why Bedrest in Pregnancy?
Your doctor or midwife may advise bedrest during pregnancy for various reasons usually based on complications of the pregnancy. Some of these may be :
– threatened miscarraige
–bleeding at any time during the pregnancy
– intrauterine growth retardation – which means the babies are growing at a slower rate than they should be for their gestational age.
– hypertension – high blood pressure
– preeclampsia – a metabolic disorder in pregnancies which incudes hypertention, protein in the urine and swelling. It is also known as toxemia.
– multiple babies – twins, triplets or more.
– incompetent cervix – a condition where the cervix starts to open painlessly at some time during the fourth to sixth month of pregnancy.
Bedrest in not a perfect cure for the above conditions but it is the least invasive. It is important that you understand the benefits of following advice for bedrest in pregnancy to grow those babies as long as you can inside you. Each week really counts to grow healthy babies – see a chart here
How Much Bedrest ?
The amount of bedrest and the strictness differs for each woman and each pregnancy. A mother in early pregnancy who is threatening to miscarry may be asked to stay in bed – not necessarily laying down until the bleeding subsides – maybe for a day or so.
A mother with mild preeclampsia could be asked to reduce her work hours and spend her afternoons laying on her left side until she gives birth and this could be for days or for weeks.
Sometimes it means stopping work completely, avoiding all social activities and staying in bed, laying down constantly except to get up to go to the bathroom.
How to Emotionally Handle Bedrest in Pregnancy
Being told to go on strict bedrest involves a huge, often sudden and unexpected change in your life. The first few days are scary and take a lot of adjustment by mom, and by the whole family. No one plans to spend their pregnancy laying down. Everyone worries that their babies are in danger or may die due to the complication. Some moms feel guilty, that they’ve done something wrong during their pregnancy. The reason for bedrest is to give those precious babies more of a fighting chance to stay in the uterus for as long as possible. This increases their rate of survival.
Most moms resent having to go on bedrest. I know that I felt if they could at least guarantee me that this would produce a healthy baby , then it would be easier. Then I’d feel guilty about feeling resentful. I worried constantly, about the baby, about me and each day I crossed off on the calendar breathed a sigh of relief and said a thank you prayer.
Major problems for women on bedrest include a lack of support and being very lonely. Ask your friends and family to call often – utilize the internet if you have it. A webcam can make your visits fun online. Emailing and instant messaging can help keep you in touch with your world.
You may find yourself feeling depressed and frustrated as you are now the dependent ‘patient’ and not the one in charge and taking care of everything. It goes against our normal ‘nesting’ urge when we can’t clean and prepare. It can be hard to accept that even though you feel ‘fine’, you have to stay in bed to prevent contractions, stem bleeding or lower blood pressure.
Bedrest in pregnancy is stressful and feeling angry or frustrated are normal. It’s hard to give up control and let someone else ( friend, husband, mother ) take over your home and your responsibilities.
Families Have To Adjust to Bedrest Too
Your husband may worry and feel resentful as well as he will now have to take on many extra responsibilities. Make sure that your doctor or midwife speaks to him as well about the concerns and the reasons for your bedrest so that he understands how important it is.
If you have other children they will also be worrying about the babies and seeing mom in bed is not normal for them. Explain as best you can why you are in bed and try to make it fun for them,If you were a working mom before, now you’ll have more time to play games or color or help with homework from your bed .
Little children have a harder time understanding why you can’t carry them or pick them up. Read to them in your bed and cuddle with them . Have someone else take them to play outside or go to the park. Remember, this is only temporary.
Ask your doctor or midwife about resources to connect with other moms on bedrest or look online. It can really help to connect with someone who is going through the same things as you are.
Common Worries with Bedrest in Pregnancy
Being on bedrest with slow down your digestive system even more than just the pregnancy which can lead to constipation. Try to increase your fluids and your fiber. Stewed prunes or other fruit, high fiber bread and drinking a hot beverage in the morning can help to get things moving a bit.
Check with your doctor or midwife about the ability to have intercourse. It may or may not be allowed. Many dad’s to be are usually too worried about hurting the babies though to take a chance.
Parents worry about money. If you were working there may be a loss of a paycheck earlier than expected. Find out if you qualify for any type of short term disability.
How Do You Cope with Bedrest?
Being kept immobilized in no picnic for any expectant mom. Just know that this is temporary and you are doing what is best for your baby.
Do what you can from bed. Laptop computers and the internet can keep you involved in your life on many levels. Try to keep busy and get yourself a schedule. Keep your days and nights very separate so that you can have quality sleep and not just mini-naps on and off. If you are allowed to , start each day with a bath or shower and do freshen up , brush your teeth etc. This can help you physically feel better.
Do all the things you haven’t had time for – reading magazines, write grocery lists, thank you notes, a good book you’ve been saving.
Try to stay positive and remember that you are doing the best you can for your babies by following bedrest in pregnancy.