Sometimes things may not go according to plan. Your
pregnancy may be ridden with problems that require
you to stay confined to bed either for a short period
or for the entire course of your pregnancy. It can
be hard but doctor's orders are doctor's orders, especially
when you consider the stakes at hand, you have no
choice but to go along with it. 1 in 5 or 20% of pregnant
women are told to rest for a week or more at some
point of their pregnancy. For some, bed rest means
being in bed round the clock and getting up only to
use the bathroom. For others bed rest is less restrictive
- frequent rests in bed but you can go out occasionally
in the car to visit your doctor perhaps, and fix your
meals or take a shower.
Why the Confinement
• Complications that can
send you to confinement can happen either in early
pregnancy or in the later part of pregnancy.
• Unexplained bleeding and the threat of miscarrying
are the most common reasons for confinement in early
• In later pregnancy, the threat of preterm
labor, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, incompetent
cervix, premature rupture of membranes, IUGR and
heart disease are reasons why bed rest will be prescribed.
• Bed rest is a treatment - lying in bed on
your side takes the pressure of the baby's weight
off your cervix; it maximizes the blood flow to
your uterus which in turn delivers more oxygen and
nutrients to the baby and finally, it prolongs the
pregnancy when there is a need for it.
The Controversy, the
Pros and Cons..
Make the most of It
• As a treatment method, bed rest isn't without
• First it is often recommended when the cervix
is weak or the uterus has a problem. To take the
baby's weight off a weak cervix, bed rest is recommended
but there is no concrete evidence to suggest that
• Second this treatment is prescribed in IUGR,
hypertension or preeclampsia with the hope that
bed rest will improve blood flow to the uterus thereby
upping the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the
developing fetus - again there is no proof that
it really benefits.
• Emotionally it is exhausting for the mother-to-be
to be restricted in movements and an inconvenience
to both her and her family members.
• Health-wise the woman stands to develop
blood clots and muscle atrophy if the confinement
is very restrictive and long; she becomes weaker
and more tired as she adjusts to everyday demands
when her bed rest order is removed.
• Despite these, doctors still prescribe bed
rest in the face of pregnancy complications because
it seems harmless and worth a try. It is best to
discuss with your doctor on the pros and cons if
such an order is issued to you.
Be sure to understand what your doctor means by this
proposal of bed rest. Is it total bed rest which means
sponge baths, meals in bed or you have the privilege
of using the bathroom and fixing your own meals? Check
if stairs are allowed, if you can engage in some mental
stress which office work brings and any other queries
you may have which is related to lifestyle changes.
Don't dwell on why this is happening with you. Instead
think about how much time you have on your hands now
to do exactly as you please. This may be the only
time in your whole adult life that you will have so
much time to do just what you want to do. Focus on
what you are doing for your baby and on the benefits
to you of resting and relaxing.
Since you are going to be a lot in bed now, may as
well create a comfortable stay. Position your bed
near the window so you can enjoy the daytime light
(a couch if repositioning your bed is not feasible).
Move everything you need within reach i.e. television,
sound system, laptop, refrigerator, magazine rack.
Arrange bedside snacks and stock your fridge (don't
forget to snack and drink right).
Establish a daily routine:
Stick to regular day time activities like changing
into daytime clothes when you wake up instead of staying
in your PJs all day, showering or sponging daily and
eating your meals on time to. This will keep your
body on a schedule. Comb your hair, put on some lipstick
if you like. Nap if you need to but not too much so
that it doesn't interfere with your nighttime sleep
and go to bed the usual time. Staying clean and fresh
and doing things the way you would otherwise keeps
your mind off sleep and your predicament.
Do the things you enjoy:
Read novels, watch your favorite programs, listen
to music on your headphones, surf the internet, catch
up with your friends over the phone, study a language
or knit something for your baby. Keep reading materials,
phone, remote control and other materials nearby.
Bond with your baby:
Though the reason for the bed rest is due to the possibility
of losing your baby, while each drop of blood you
lose or each contraction you experience brings home
this fear, you should not stop from forming a bond
with your unborn child. This is the ideal time to
contemplate on your pregnancy and bond with the baby.
Remember a good majority of women go on to deliver
healthy babies after being confined.
Use this time to get a good massage from a massage
therapist at least once a week. A head to toe massage
or a facial by a qualified person in your home premises
will relax you and you have something to look forward
to. What better time than now!
With your doctor's permission, do some light isometric
exercises with your arms and legs while in bed such
as calf stretches and leg lifts and some upper arm
exercises. Circulation will improve along with your
muscles and mood.
Work from bed:
While you cannot do errands that require legwork,
you can engage in mental work while lying down - balance
checkbook, work on a laptop, make appointments, order
groceries online or call for delivery, help with children's
homework or any other paperwork.
Spend the day in another room or section of the house
other than your bedroom. Use the family room or living
room for day time activities.
Don't overdo it when the ban is lifted:
When you finally get out of bed let everyone know
that you are going to ease back into routine but will
still require a lot of help and rest. The aches and
pains of having remained so long in bed will ease
over the next few days and you will go back to being
your usual active self soon enough. In the meantime
don't be in a hurry and stay focused on your goal
- bring your baby to term.