How to Cope with Bed Rest in Pregnancy

Four Methods:Staying Healthy While on Bed RestGetting Things Done While on Bed RestTaking Care of Your Mental HealthConnecting With Others

During your pregnancy, your doctor may put you on bed rest. At first, bed rest may sound like a great relaxing vacation. However, being on bed rest can be taxing emotionally and physically. If you are put on bed rest, learn how to cope so you can keep your spirits up until you give birth.

Method 1
Staying Healthy While on Bed Rest

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    Figure out what activities are allowed. Depending on your condition, your bed rest may mean something different than someone else’s. Your physician or midwife may want you to stay at home, but say it’s okay for you to move around the house. You may need to rest for a few hours each day, or you may need to stay in bed most of the day. Ask your provider what is the appropriate amount of rest and physical activity each day.[1]
    • Make sure to ask how long you can stand on your feet, how much you can lift, and how long you should stay in bed each day. Also determine if you should take stairs.
    • Find out if there is a specific position you should rest in each day.
    • Ask your doctor about how you should bathe.
    • You may want to ask if you can sit on the couch or sit outside on your deck. Also ask if you can sit in a chair at the dining room table so you can join your family for meals.
    • You also may want to discuss what sexual activities are safe for you during this time.
    • Ask your doctor if there are any exercises you can do while on bed rest to help keep yourself strong and active.
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    Follow a healthy pregnancy diet. Bed rest may limit your exercise. It may also exacerbate constipation or heartburn related to pregnancy. To help with this, you should maintain a healthy diet during your pregnancy. Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet. This includes protein, vegetables, fruits, dairy, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Make sure to increase your fiber intake to help you avoid constipation.[2]
    • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables while on bed rest, along with whole grains.
    • Also make sure you are drinking plenty of water. You should aim for eight to 12 eight-ounce glasses each day.
    • Try to eat small meals throughout the day instead of large meals to help reduce heartburn. Shoot for six to eight small meals.[3]
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    Move around as much as you can. Bed rest differs from person to person, which means the amount you are allowed to move may not be the same as someone else or may change during your pregnancy. Sitting in one place for long periods of time can cause complications, such as poor circulation and bed sores. Talk to your doctor about what exercises and movements are okay for you before trying any bed rest exercises.
    • You should also exercise or stretch as much as you can while sitting. Talk to your doctor about safe exercises to do while on bed rest. You may try isometric exercises with stress balls, moving arms or legs in circles, or tensing and relaxing your arm and leg muscles.
    • You may want to try doing kegel exercises.[4]
    • Stretch your chest and shoulders by placing your hands behind your head with your elbows wide. Sit up straight and then lean back slowly as you lift your chest. Inhale deeply, making sure your ribcage expands. As you exhale, lower down until your elbows touch your knees.
    • Try pelvic tilts. Sit with your legs crossed. Inhale as you lift your chest and arch your back. As you exhale, roll your spine down as you tuck your pelvis,
    • Move your arms by starting with them straight out at your sides, then pulling them straight over head. Make sure to squeeze the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms as you lift and lower.
    • Roll your ankles one way for 10 or 20 times, then do it the other way. Flex and straighten your feet 10 or 20 times.
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    Find ways to sit more comfortably. Your doctor may advise you to lay a certain way during your bed rest. They may tell you to lay on your side instead of your back. You shouldn't stay in one place for too long because it can cause stress on your body, cause sores, and reduce circulation. Make sure to switch from one side to the other to help reduce this risk and relieve pressure on one side.[5]
    • You may also find that pillows or body pillows may give you more comfort. You can lay with a pillow between your knees or a pillow under your belly. You may want to hug a pillow because it puts your body in a more comfortable position. You can even place a pillow under your calves to help reduce pressure to your feet and legs.
    • Body pillows help give you more options for positions, because you can lie half on your side and half on your back.[6]

Method 2
Getting Things Done While on Bed Rest

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    Ask someone to help you prepare for the day. Each day, you should have someone come by and help you get set up for the day. This is especially important if your activity is severely limited. Think about what you will need during the day so you get get yourself set up for the day.[7]
    • You may need someone to help put drinks and food next to you so you can reach them when you need a snack, a meal, or are thirsty.
    • Make a list of things you may want throughout the day, like your laptop or tablet, a cell phone charger, the remote to the television or DVD player, or a book.
    • You may want to arrange to have your partner help you in the morning, then have a friend or family member come over midday.
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    Find ways to fill your day. Sitting around all day may lose its appeal after a day or two. You may find yourself feeling bored, irritable, or even depressed. To help combat this, you should find ways to fill your day. You can choose housekeeping tasks or even recreational tasks you have been putting off because you’ve been too busy.[8]
    • Try making a budget, paying bills, or organizing your mail.
    • Work on planning menus for the next few months so you will have less stress after the baby comes. Lookup new recipes and ways to cook things.
    • Take up sewing, knitting, or crocheting. You may want to work on other crafts.
    • Get caught up on your reading list. Make your way through the latest movies you haven’t seen, or marathon a television show.
    • Write e-mails or letters to friends and family members.
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    Stay involved in your household. Even though you are on bed rest, there are some household chores that can be done in bed. You can keep yourself busy with different tasks to avoid feeling useless, bored, or disconnected. Finding ways to get involved will also help lighten the burden on your partner.
    • You can do various things from bed, like cutting vegetables for dinner, folding clothes, helping your kids with their homework, or paying bills.
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    Adopt a schedule. Even though you are on bed rest, you should try to get on a schedule. Wake up at the same time each day and have meals at the same time. You may want to change out of your nightclothes into clothes you can wear around all day. Make a list of tasks to do each day so you can have something to do.[9]
    • Your schedule doesn’t have to be overly specific. You may just have a time where you take your bath, a set time when you read, and a time when you watch television with your children.
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    Prepare all medical details for your birth. One thing you may do when you’re on bed rest is to get any medical details in order for your birth. This means talking to your job about any maternity-leave benefits or getting health insurance forms in order. You may go ahead and choose a pediatrician for your baby or apply for child care.[10]
    • You may also want to come up with a birth plan during this time.
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    Prepare for your baby’s arrival. You can use your bed rest as time to prepare for your baby’s arrival. This means taking care of things you may not have gotten around to yet. You can get together a registry or make a list of things you will need to buy. You can also work on baby announcements and thank you notes from baby showers.[11]
    • You can also stock up on any items you need for the baby, like diapers, baby wipes, or shampoo.
    • You may want to draft a new will or take care of any guardianship details.
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    Work from home. If your doctor says it is okay, you may be able to work from home. This may help with any financial hardships you face because you had to stop working early. This may also help appease your job if they are unhappy that you are on bed rest.[12]
    • With many jobs, you can do most of your activities just with a computer and the internet.

Method 3
Taking Care of Your Mental Health

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    Remember how strong you are for carrying a child. When bed rest gets too much for you, remind yourself that carrying and growing a child inside yourself is a huge task. You are doing something very important and impressive. Reminding yourself of how much you are doing, even when on bed rest, can help you find strength during tough times.[13]
    • Remind yourself that you will only be on bed rest for a short amount of time. After you give birth, you will be back to your normal self.
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    Distract yourself from anxious thoughts. Being on bed rest can cause a lot of mental stress. You may feel like you are weak or that something will be wrong with your baby. This is not true, so you should work on distracting yourself from these thoughts.[14]
    • Try engaging in an activity, like knitting something for your baby or other children or working on a scrapbook. You may consider shopping online for your baby.
    • Call someone and talk to them if you are having anxiety about your situation. You can talk through your anxiety or you can talk about other things to help you forget about your anxiety.
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    Practice relaxation techniques. Bed rest can be a really stressful time for you. You should engage in relaxation techniques to help calm your mind and body. This may include deep breathing exercises, meditate, or even prayer or spiritual reflection.[15]
    • Block out part of your day to remain undisturbed so you can relax.
    • You may want to listen to soothing music to help relax you. Try a guided meditation to follow if you are unsure how to meditate on your own.
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    Consider counseling. Bed rest may result in a lot of negative feelings and emotions. You may feel guilty because you think the bed rest is your fault, or feel inadequate that you didn’t do enough to protect your baby. You may feel different or weaker than other pregnant women. If you suffer from these emotions, you may consider getting therapy or counseling to help you deal with them. [16]
    • You can ask your doctor to help you find a therapist or mental health professional who will visit you in your home to help you with any psychological distress.
    • Consider calling a helpline or therapist who is available by phone. Some therapists may also be available via online chats or video chat.
    • Depression and anxiety may arise due to bed rest and isolation. Therapy or counseling may be able to help you manage any mood disorders that arise.
    • You may go through all the stages of grief, such as going through phases of anger, denial, and bargaining.

Method 4
Connecting With Others

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    Arrange for someone to help with your children. If you have other children, you will not be able to care for them while on bed rest. You cannot get up to make lunch, check on them, or take care of something if it happens. You should make arrangements to have someone help you take care of your children during this time.[17]
    • This may be your partner, a family member or friend, or a daycare.
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    Create ways to interact with others. Bed rest can be a very isolating time for you. You do not want to be alone during this stressful, yet joyous time in your life. You should reach out to your family members and friends for support and social interaction during this time.[18]
    • You can invite friends and family members over to visit with you at your home.
    • Accept offers for your friends and family to help out. They may offer to come over and cook or clean for you, or pick up groceries. Don’t be too proud to let your friends help you. Plus, this allows them to come over to your home so you can interact.
    • Stay in touch by calling your friends on the phone.
    • Find women online who are on bed rest via message boards and support groups.
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    Provide stability for your children. If you have other children, they may be confused or upset when you suddenly have to go on bed rest. They may not know what to do since you are no longer able to be with them or provide the same kind of interaction you were able to previously. To help them during this time, try to adopt a routine to give the some stability. Make sure to spend time with them while you are on bed rest by finding activities you can do in bed.[19]
    • For example, you may want to have the same person pick your kids up from school each day, or have the same person come to take care of them every day. Encourage your partner or grandparents to spend quality time with the children.
    • Pick activities you can do with your children while on bed rest. This may include playing card or board games on the bed, coloring or reading together, or watching a movie.
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    Share your feelings with your partner. Bed rest may present emotional difficulties for you and your partner. You should both share your feelings with each other. This includes positive and negative feelings. Tell each other your fears, frustrations, and concerns, along with your hopes and joys. Stay emotionally connected during this time.[20]
    • Try to find ways to be together despite the bed rest. This may mean sharing meals in bed, watching television together, or talking.
    • If you can’t have sex, find other ways to be intimate with each other. Keep touching, hugging, and kissing each other to maintain that connection.

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Categories: Pregnancy