A Beginner’s Guide to Bed Rest

SONY DSCDid you know that one out of every five mothers will be prescribed bed rest during her pregnancy? Since there is a chance that you may have to become familiar with bed rest, here are some basics to get you started. First of all, let’s talk about what bed rest is. Bed rest can mean anything from complete and total confinement to one’s bed for twenty four hours a day to taking time to lay down for an hour or so a couple of times a day. Make sure that your prenatal care provider is specific in telling you exactly how much rest you should be getting, as well as which activities are okay for you to do and which ones you must avoid. For example, you may be able to get up for about fifteen minutes every hour or two to use the bathroom and fix yourself something to eat.

Why do prenatal care providers prescribe bed rest for some pregnant women? Caregivers prescribe bed rest for a number of reasons. Common reasons include being pregnant with multiples, preterm labor, preeclampsia, a low lying placenta, or a baby who is not gaining weight appropriately. During my first pregnancy I was prescribed modified bed rest for the last month of my pregnancy because of preeclampsia. I did the best that I could to make the most of the experience by reading a lot, watching movies, and doing work on my laptop. At that time I did not work from home, so I had to leave my job because my daily activities were limited to making meals, bathing, and very light housework for up to fifteen minutes each hour. 

During my second pregnancy I was advised to take at least two, one hour “naps” each day during the last few weeks of my pregnancy because my blood pressure was elevated. I was thankful that it was only slight bed rest because at the time, my older son was two years old. I managed to get two “naps” in each day even though he has largely outgrown his nap. We would cuddle up and read lots of books, and sometimes watch movies too.

No matter what type of bed rest your prenatal caregiver prescribes, it is important to take their advice seriously because it can help you keep your baby in utero for a longer time. Of course, if you are quite far along in your pregnancy, you may be at the stage where you want your baby to just come out already. If you are feeling that way (which is totally normal), it is helpful to keep in mind that the closer to term you are able to carry your baby, the healthier she is likely to be.

Photo by albertinis69 on morguefile.com.