When you're pregnant, doctors may prescribe prolonged bed rest for conditions such as preterm labor or preeclampsia. For an active woman, lying down for days or weeks at a time can be frustrating and anxiety provoking. If you already have a child to care for, or if you need to interrupt your job or other important activities, you'll face additional challenges.
Defining Bed Rest. Bed rest may mean complete restriction to bed or could include limited time for upright activities each day. Ask your doctor to provide specific guidelines and find out whether you can be upright for a portion of each day.
Home Responsibilities. If you've been in charge of the household, now's the time to get assistance! Some families hire a housekeeper to help with laundry, cooking, shopping and cleaning, while others enlist the assistance of friends and family members. You'll need to accept the fact that other people may perform tasks differently than you do, so try to adjust your standards for this limited time period.
Coping with Boredom. Engaging in a favorite project or activity can make it easier to get through each day. Knitting, arranging family photos, reading and crafts are popular choices. Watching TV or a favorite movie requires less focus, so either is a good choice if you're having trouble concentrating.
Movement. Even though you won't be heading to the gym it's important to maintain muscle tone and flexibility. Some exercises can be performed from your bed, even lying on your side. Large rubber exercise bands can be used to maintain flexibility and strength; specific exercises can be tailored to your situation. Simple actions like moving your arms and legs or rotating your hands, shoulders and feet in circles will improve your circulation and should be done daily.
Diet. A healthy diet reduces your chance of constipation and is essential for the growth of your baby. Eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat proteins. Include food with fiber, such as oatmeal and bran, drink plenty of water and take a stool softener if needed. Your body still needs adequate calories to help your baby grow but be careful not to rely heavily on sweets and fatty foods.
Stress Reduction. It's important to offset fears you may have about your pregnancy. Spend part of each day creating a positive image of your pregnancy. For example, practice deep breathing and visualize your baby peacefully growing in your womb, receiving all the nourishment it needs with each inhalation. Spend a few minutes each day visualizing a strong emotional bond between you and your baby. There are relaxation and meditation tapes available for purchase; these are strongly recommended.
Support. In addition to friends and family members, you may wish to hire a professional as part of your support team. Consider the assistance of a counselor, birth coach or hypnotherapist. Find out from your doctor if you can attend childbirth preparation classes once or twice a week.
Pamper Yourself. Every day of bed rest provides another day your baby gets to grow in your womb. You're giving your baby a precious gift, and you deserve to indulge in some pampering. Consider a manicure or pedicure, hire a massage therapist who is willing to provide a home visit or indulge in a facial. Keep a calendar in your room and mark off each day of success. As difficult as it is to stay in bed when you're pregnant, this time will eventually be over. Remember that you're doing your very best to achieve a healthy outcome.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.