Tips for Dealing with Bed Rest

Friend’s Question: My doctor has put me on bed rest during my pregnancy. Any suggestions for how I can get through it?

Answer: First of all, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re on bed rest. I hope and pray that all will be well soon.

(For those who aren’t familiar with what “bed rest” entails, it’s much more than just taking naps or getting a good night’s sleep! Bed rest is mandated by doctors to prevent complications such as premature labor during pregnancy. Bed rest could be required for a week or several months! As The Mayo Clinic describes, “If you’re on complete bed rest during pregnancy, you might not even be able to shower or eat sitting up.” Bed rest or a similar term can also be used to indicate medically-imposed restrictions following illness, injury or surgery.)

Here are my tips as someone who doesn’t directly know what you’re going through, but has spent a lot of time in bed or at home recouping:
  • Make sure your doctor is very specific as to what you can and can’t do in a given day. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and call the doctor’s office.
  • Keep your eye on the prize and do whatever you can to get through the day. The goal here is a healthy baby. As a mom, you’ll do anything in your power so that your child will not go through one added ounce of pain. You’re just starting that mode while you’re pregnant, instead of when your baby is here. Whatever you need to do, can do or want to do on a given day is all you should do. Period.
  • See about renting a wheelchair and talk with your doctor as to whether that can enable you to get around more, even if it’s just around your own house. Insurance might be able to cover that temporary expense, too.
  • Move into the room that you find the most peaceful (ideally one that’s also closest to a bathroom and doesn’t involve any stairs).
  • Figure out if you need help, want company or neither. There’s no right or wrong, but I feel as though some people get that you might need help with grocery store runs, laundry, dog walks, etc. They will offer to help and if you feel comfortable having them in your home, take them up on it. Other people will just think you want someone to chill with and will expect you to host them if they come over. Decide if you are up for that physically and emotionally. If you don’t feel like seeing people while on bed rest, it’s ok to say that you’ll check in with people once you’re able to get out and about.
  • Try to keep some of your normal routine. My hairdressers and nail techs offered to come to my house many times. I’m sure if your stylists and techs knew that you couldn’t come to them, they would do the same! If that would make you feel more like yourself, reach out to them.
  • Invest in whatever you can to make this time easier — a cleaning woman, a dog walker, food delivery service, stores that will deliver and assemble nursery furniture, etc… It’s worth it.
  • Ask your doctor for a case manager. A case manager can access your limitations and living situation and recommend solutions. Maybe you need a shower chair or to rent an adjustable bed? Maybe a prenatal physical therapist or home health aide could be of benefit? Case managers can also check as to what’s covered by insurance.
  • Consider if you want to connect with someone in the area who went through a similar experience during pregnancy. Sidelines is a nonprofit that provides such services. There are also online forums and women your doctor can connect you with.
  • Remove the pressure involved in having to use the time to write the next great American novel, journal, make a baby book or anything else. If you want to do any of those things, fine. If not, that’s fine, too.

So, readers, what are your recommendations for dealing with bed rest?

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