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There’s nothing restful about bed rest

Bed Rest Survival Skills for Pregnant Moms (and their families)

This article is for all you moms out there who are spending part of your pregnancy on the couch, in bed or in hospital. You are likely counting the hours, days and weeks until your baby is scheduled to arrive.

Before I start sharing some advice from a mom who has been there — twice — I want you to know you are not alone. All the anxiety, fear, anger, and isolation you are feeling is not unique. Many of us have felt the same range of emotions, and more, during our days incubating our babies.

In my case, I spent three months on home-based bed rest with my daughter (plus short hospital stays) and eight-weeks living in a large teaching hospital, an hour away from my family, when pregnant with my son. So I’ve spent my fair share of time lying down worrying about my baby — thanks to two high-risk pregnancies.

Here are some tips to help you not only cope, but take control of your bed rest.

#1 Plan Your Days

This is key to keeping your mental health in check. Figure out what it is you want to do with your time so you don’t end up laying around watching TV all day. Take it from me — that gets old quickly. Look for a variety of activities throughout the day, including reading, chatting with friends, working on or taking up a hobby, watching a movie and napping (always important).

#2 Ask For Help

Seriously. Ask for help!!! This is a time when you and your family truly need support. But instead of hoping people will help, and getting frustrated when they don’t help in a way you need it most, tell them the help you need. This means listing the specific areas people can help you — doing laundry, meal preparation, running kids to activities, cleaning the house and more. One mom put post-it notes on her front door. Before visitors entered they had to pick a chore to do during the visit. And if they didn’t want to help, don’t bother coming in.

#3 Know Your Limitations

Have an honest conversation with your midwife/doctor/OB on what your bed rest restrictions are and write out these out for you both to review. Are you allowed to go up and down stairs? How often in a day? Can you go shopping? If so for how long? Are you on pelvic rest (sorry ladies, that means no sex)? Also remember as baby grows and your pregnancy progresses, these restrictions may change. So this isn’t a one-time conversation but rather a regular discussion at your appointments.

#4 Know What to Expect

Fear of the unknown can take your mind to place you don’t want to go. It’s important to have an idea of what’s to come. If your medical provider is considering (or will be) admitting you to hospital for the remainder of your pregnancy, if you are able, check out the unit you’ll be staying before you’re admitted. Is it an antenatal unit (specifically for high-risk pregnant moms), the maternity unit (mix of moms ready to give birth and moms who have given birth) or a general unit (mix bag of anything)? It’s important to know where you will be staying.

Before I was admitted to hospital I was able to get a tour of the antenatal unit. I saw the type of room I’d be staying in, the common area where moms could watch TV or do a puzzle, the kitchen where I could store food from home as well as the laundry room. This tour helped me better understanding where I would be staying, and took reduced some of my anxiety.

When I was admitted, I also received a tour of the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). I was taken to the incubator of a 31-week-old baby (the same age as my son in my belly). It was a hard awakening as to how small these babies truly are — the fruit references in baby books do not do these little ones justice. Once I got over my initial shock, I learned how babies are cared for, the nurse baby ratio (which is based on the health of the baby) and saw a glimpse of life in the NICU. I took this tour out of curiosity, knowing my baby would not spend time there.

After he was born, he decided to stop breathing and was whisked away to the NICU where he spent the next two weeks. The tour went a long way in helping me process not having my baby with me. Even though it was a few hours before I could see him, I was able to visualize his surroundings and knew he was getting the care he needed.

Bed rest is a journey that is unique for every woman. While you will need to find your own way, I hope these tips have helped you think about ways to fill your days and get the support you and your family needs.

If you want to learn more bed rest tips visit www.bedrestmom.com

Writer, communications professional, speaker and patient advocate. Visit www.howtocommunications.com for free communications tools to help share your stories.

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