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Bed Rest During Pregnancy

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 16 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Pregnancy Pregnant Baby Bed Rest Birth

Being told to go on bed rest during pregnancy is more common than many women might think. While each pregnancy is unique, bed rest is not necessarily a sign that there is anything catastrophic about to happen but instead should be looked at as a precautionary measure.

If you are told to go on bed rest during your pregnancy make sure that you fully understand your situation and have a chance to ask your health care providers all of your questions related to the pregnancy, the pregnancy symptoms that you have experienced, the health of your baby and giving birth. Some basic answers to frequently asked questions about bed rest during pregnancy are provided below.

Why is Bed Rest Important During a Pregnancy?

Bed rest during a pregnancy may be advised for many reasons, so make sure that you understand why you are being asked to do this. Some women are asked to go on bed rest because there is a danger of premature birth while others are asked to go on bed rest because of high blood pressure or unexplained bleeding during pregnancy. Cervical changes, multiple babies, a history of miscarriage or pregnancy loss, gestational diabetes, complications with the placenta and poor foetal development may also lead a pregnant woman to be asked to go on bed rest.

How Does Bed Rest Help During a Pregnancy?

For the most part, bed rest helps by allowing a pregnant woman’s body to return to as “normal” a state as possible. This means that women who are asked to take bed rest due to high blood pressure will hopefully find that their blood pressure lowers during bed rest. Similarly, women who experience bleeding while pregnant will hopefully find that the bleeding ceases while on bed rest. The unique pregnancy symptoms that lead a woman to bed rest to determine how the bed rest actually helps a woman and her baby.

Can Bed Rest Hurt Me or My Baby?

Bed rest is always recommended in an attempt to help a woman and her baby, but a woman must be sure to follow the specific instructions given to her by her doctor. If, for example, a woman is told to lay on her side in order to conduct more blood to her placenta then laying in another position will not be as beneficial. Unfortunately, staying in the same position can become uncomfortable for a woman. Each woman should speak to her doctor about dealing with such discomfort, though many women find some relief by squeezing “stress balls”, slowly circling their limbs and alternately tensing and relaxing their muscles.

How Long Will I Stay on Bed Rest?

Not all women asked to go on bed rest stay there until they give birth. In fact, many women are asked to go on bed rest for a short period of time to see if it makes a difference to their pregnancy, and if it does then the time period may be extended. If you are asked to go on bed rest, be sure to find out how long you are being asked to stay there and what will determine if you stay in bed longer than that.

What Can I do During Bed Rest?

Women on bed rest during pregnancy often find a variety of projects to fill their time. Some women enjoy journal or writing, organising recipes or pictures, using laptops to shop online or telecommute to work, write or email friends, sew, knit or engage in a variety of other activities. Women on bed rest can also invite loved ones to socialise with them, watch television, read books or magazines and/or pamper themselves with appropriate beauty treatments.

What Can I Not do During Bed Rest?

Women will be advised of what they can not do while on bed rest on a case by case basis. Ask your doctor if you can shower or bathe, use the bathroom, cook, complete household chores, do any sort of exercise, walk anywhere eat meals at the table or engage in sexual activity. Asking if you can work at home, and how you can carry out this work, is also advisable if you would like to stay connected to your career while on bed rest.

What Else do I Need to Know About Bed Rest?

Again, bed rest is unique to each woman so thoroughly discussing all of your questions, hopes and fears with your doctors is essential to getting through this period comfortably. Good luck!

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