Bed rest has been prescribed for various pregnancy complications. It’s often prescribed if you’re at risk of preterm labor or for a eager (incompetent) cervix. While most women willingly abide by the doctors’ orders for bed rest, for many it’s an unwelcome inconvenience. There are always so many other things to do in addition to growing a baby. Yet when you consider that you will have plenty of other chances to do those things, but only one chance to complete this pregnancy, being in bed for nearly 24 hours a day can be managed. Make sure you understand why you were put on bed rest. Get informed, ask questions, and request specific answers. If you can, discuss it with your doula, or other birth professionals. Understanding why you are asked to do something is very important for your peace of mind. Once you feel comfortable with the decision, try to enjoy your state in the here and now. Here are ten ways to cope with your confinement and actually enjoy it.
Be sure you understand what your healthcare provider means by bed rest. You can pretty much figure that bed rest means refraining from most activities done outside the home. Check to be sure you know whether your doctor recommends total bed rest, which means sponge baths in bed and bedpans, or whether you get the luxury of bathroom privileges and an occasional walk to the kitchen. Ask if you can slowly walk up and down stairs, or if you are confined to one floor. Most doctors over prescribe the degree of bed rest, realizing that most human beings do not easily adapt to such drastic changes in lifestyle and will occasionally cheat. Ask specific questions to your doctor, so that you might spend hours wondering what is allowed and what is not, and then annoyed do it anyway. Can you deal with office work over the phone? How about your other children? Paint a clear picture so an overtly cautious care provider will understand what is feasible and what is asking too much for your life style. Also ask about sex and be specific: do you have to stay away from penetration and intercourse, or also orgasm. Depending on your condition even orgasm is off limits. When you are in bed make sure you change position often and place several pillows all around you and in between your legs.
If you have to stay in bed you might as well create a bed you like to stay in. Have your bed placed near or facing a window so you have fresh air and a view. Put anything you’ll need within arms’ reach on a table next to your bed. Use a cordless phone or one with a long cord if the phone jack isn’t near your bed. Keep address books, phone books, your journal and all kinds of reading material on an adjacent table. Move the television or the stereo and computer into the bedroom. Buy or rent a small refrigerator for your bedside snacks. Be kind to your body. Get lots of fun books as well as the usual instructional books. Get books on CD or tape so you don’t strain yourself.
Rather than dwell on what you’re missing, think about what you are enjoying. Even if you find yourself feeling bored and depressed, these feelings will eventually subside, and you will have happy days again. Focus on what you are doing for your baby, and on the benefits to you of resting and relaxing. The good thing about the emotions of pregnancy is that downs are usually followed by ups. Hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis are very helpful. This is a great opportunity to work on yourself, and begin a conversation with your child.
With so much time to just sit and think, your emotions are likely to run wild. You may worry about the baby’s health and survival, fret about how your husband and kids are coping, be bored with too little to do, feel anxious about things you should be doing, and dislike feeling dependent. You may feel angry and disappointed about the course of your pregnancy. Each day in bed will bring on new emotions to work through, yet continuing to focus on the goal of your pregnancy will overcome these anxieties and keep you in bed as long as you need to stay there.
This may be the first time in your life that your mate waits on you some women love it and others are overwhelmed with feelings of unworthiness, first of all may I remind you that you are carrying HIS baby! Some of us are control freaks and just don’t like how others (even our mate) do or prepare things. What a great opportunity to learn the art of letting go! Prolonged bed rest during pregnancy can bring couples together or tear them apart. He will miss your company in those activities that you usually do together and you’ll feel lonely if he goes ahead without you. Your marriage will be stressed out, but this is an amazing opportunity to strengthen your bond. Get creative when it comes to romance, you can still have a romantic dinner (in bed!), watch a movie together and yes you can exchange massage. You might just have to learn the delicate art of feather caressing, while he can rub all those sore muscles that have had no activities. There is usually no restriction in kissing, but orgasm might not be an option for you. You can still wear something sexy and have fun coming up with fun games to keep your love and intimacy going, this is a great time to practice giving unconditionally as well. But if you really don’t feel like having sex either be very frank with your partner. Some men will be supportive and some will have difficulty with this one, and communication is key here. Speak freely about your frustration and allow him to voice his as well, but don’t waste time whining as soon as he comes in the door, that will not bring positive returns. A lot is based on how you look at things.
With your doctor’s okay, you could do some exercises in bed, such as leg lifts, calf stretches, and upper arm exercises with light weights. Exercising helps promote circulation, as well as keeping your muscles (including your heart) in shape. Make sure you do some breathing exercises as well, open your window daily and take ten deep breaths is at the count of ten. Hold for the count of ten, and exhale for the count of ten. Breathing deeply this way will keep your lungs in shape, your blood oxygenated and your spirit high.
Staying in bed does not mean denying yourself all the pleasures of life. Hire a massage therapist (or ask a friend) to give you a head to toe massage at least once a week. See if your hairdresser will come to your bedside. Ask a girlfriend over and have a manicure and pedicure party. Start a book club and invite friends over for an animated conversation. If you have a grandma or old aunt who loves playing a good game of cards invite her over and play cards and ask her to tell you some good stories about your mom or dad. Don’t give up and lull all day in the ‘why me?’ mode, that’s a waist of time. Think of what you would do for your child if she was put on bed rest for months, how you would support her, how you would cheer her up. Well, my friend, that is exactly what you are doing and who you are doing it for!
Many women on prolonged bed rest face a dilemma: though this would seem an ideal time to contemplate the miracle of pregnancy and to really bond with the baby, the usual reason for being on prolonged bed rest is the very real possibility of losing the baby. So some women find that even though they have plenty of time to think about and plan for the baby, they have difficulty doing so because of their fear of losing the baby. Remember that the vast majority of women who are confined to bed go on to deliver babies who survive and thrive. And the few who don’t, never regret loving the little person who was briefly part of their lives.
Ask your practitioner to give you the phone numbers of other mothers similarly confined to bed. Sometimes you can talk each other through a particularly boring day. Or contact a support groups one in the US is called www.sidelines.org which maintains a national hotline of volunteers who offer support and match you with other bedridden moms-to-be. This group was started by a California mother who was confined to bed during her high-risk pregnancies and figured out a way to use her free time for the good of other women in her circumstances.
Get colored pencils and paper and draw your feelings. Freda Kalo, a famous Mexican painter, learned to paint during her long bed stay due to a back injury, she went on to become one of the most celebrated female painters of all times. A lot of her work is self-portraits; her father had hung a mirror over her bed so that she could copy her own face. You can turn anything that comes your way into a positive experience. If you don’t feel comfortable with your ability as a painter… paint anyway, or write. Anthony Robbins says “…a life worth living is worth recording….” These art works will be a wonderful way to look back at this period with tenderness.
Last but not least forget about yourself and help others. Yes, you can volunteer to do some phone work for a charity, you can be part of a prayer line, help line, or help with stamping and folding letter for a fundraiser. Call old relatives who are sick or alone and cheer them up. Doing service might turn your bed rest into the most fulfilling time in your life.
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