Some physicians recommend bed rest for certain situations where the mother or baby might be affected. Read on to find out why and how it helps mother and baby.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. K.
Why Some Women Need Bed Rest During Pregnancy
Bed rest varies based on providers. It could mean scheduling a good, long rest each day, or it may mean staying in bed much of the time. Or, your doctor may recommend something else, such as not lifting items heavier than 20 pounds or cutting back on your work schedule. Because it doesn’t always mean staying in bed, bed rest is more accurately called “activity restriction."
Why Is Bed Rest Prescribed?
Some physicians recommend bed rest for situations such as a baby’s development difficulties, high blood pressure or preeclampsia, vaginal bleeding from placenta previa or abruption, premature labour, cervical insufficiency, impending miscarriage, and other issues. They believe that you’ll reduce your chances of having a premature baby or having problems throughout your pregnancy by taking it easy. During their pregnancy, almost one in every five women is on limited activity or bed rest.
However, there is no evidence that bed rest helps with any of these diseases, according to research. It does not affect the likelihood of problems or early birth.
Many doctors are aware that there is little proof that bed rest is beneficial. However, people do it nonetheless because they believe it is harmless. Bed rest, however, has been shown to have actual dangers in research. They are as follows:
- Clots in the blood
- Anxiety and depression
- Stress in the family
- Money worries, particularly if you have to quit working.
- Your baby was born with low birth weight.
- Recovery time after delivery is longer.
- Bones and muscles that have become brittle
According to research, the tighter a woman’s bed rest, the worse these adverse effects seem to be.
Bed rest may often entail remaining in bed all day, except for going to the restroom. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend partial bed rest, lying in bed for a few hours throughout the day. In any case, it may be a physically and emotionally trying period for you.
Studies show that pregnant women are better off maintaining their regular schedule than resting, even if they have difficulties. Physical exercise during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of issues, including low birth weight and preeclampsia.
What Should I Do if My Doctor Prescribes Bed Rest?
You have the right to challenge your doctor’s advice. Doctors should be ready to explain why they made certain decisions. It’s critical to get specific responses.
Questions to bring up with your doctor include:
- What makes you think that bed rest is a good idea?
- What do you mean when you say “bed rest"? Do you want to spend the whole day in bed? Breaks now and then?
- Is it essential to stay in bed? Are there any other choices?
- What are the particular advantages of bed rest for my baby and me?
- Do the advantages outweigh the dangers?
- What does medical research reveal?
- What are some of the possible side effects of bed rest? For my child? What about me?
- Is there anybody who specialises in maternal-fetal medicine with whom we might speak?
If you have any concerns, get a second opinion or see an expert. Your doctor should explain why you need to stay in bed.
Tips for Getting Through Bed Rest
If you and your doctor agree that bed rest is something you should attempt, you should ask additional questions. The phrase “bed rest" is a misleading term. You must understand precisely what your doctor anticipates. Pose queries such as:
- How long will I have to stay in bed?
- Is it necessary for me to spend all of my time in bed? Is it okay if I go to work?
- Is it okay if I get up to shower or use the restroom?
- Is it possible for me to perform regular housework while caring for my other children?
- Is it necessary for me to refrain from carrying anything heavy?
- Should I lay down on one side or remain in one position?
- Is it OK to engage in sexual activity? If so, what types and how much are you looking for?
Physically and psychologically, bed rest may be difficult. It’s tedious and exhausting. You must concentrate on making it as comfortable as possible. These pointers may be helpful:
Schedule your day. Maintaining a routine will help to break up the day and prevent boredom. In the morning, get dressed. Make a to-do list and schedule your day’s activities, such as reading, watching a movie, or playing word games.
Do the exercises your doctor recommends. You must maintain your muscular strength. Blood clots may be avoided by moving your legs.
Have a support system. To get through this, you’ll need the support of your family and friends. There will be guests—call, email, and text to stay in contact.
Eat well. Drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced diet rich in fibre. Constipation will be less likely.
Let people help. It may be challenging to ask for assistance, but you must. If friends or family members inquire about how they might assist, be precise. Allow them to pick up groceries or carpool with you.
Learn something new. Start studying a new language, enrol in a correspondence course, or watch how-to videos on YouTube to learn how to sketch or knit.
Call Your Doctor If:
If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
- You have a swollen, painful vein in your leg. This may be a blood clot caused by inadequate blood circulation.
- You’re out of breath, or your chest hurts. This may indicate that a blood clot has broken free and been trapped in your lung.
- You’re having contractions, amniotic fluid leaking, or other indications of labour.
- Your blood pressure is more significant than recommended by your doctor.
- You aren’t as aware of your baby’s movements as you were before.
- ACOG Practice Bulletin, May 2003: Number 43.
- Bigelow, C. Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, 2011.
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital: “Standard of Care: High-Risk Pregnancies."
- Crowther, C. The Cochrane Review, 2010.
- Maloni, J. Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecology, July 1, 2011.
- Meher, S. The Cochrane Review, 2010.
- Nemours Foundation: “Surviving Bed Rest."
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital: “During Pregnancy: Bed Rest at Its Best."
- Sciscione, A. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, March 2010.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Your Pregnancy and Childbirth, Month to Month. 5th edition. 2010."
- Cleveland Clinic: “Pregnancy Bed Rest."
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Thrombophlebitis."