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Taking The Loneliness Out of Bed Rest

Spending days and weeks lying on a couch or in a bed can make for long days and be very isolating for a pregnant mom on bed rest. Add to this the fears and anxieties of having a baby growing inside of you, and the stress dramatically increases.

Unfortunately, too often when pregnant women are put on bed rest, friends and family keep their distance. They often think the mother needs her rest, and it’s best to stay away so as to not disturb her. But now, more than ever, mom needs support to get through the days, and tackle all the work that needs to be done before baby arrives.

Also, women with high-risk pregnancies who end up on bed rest, are also more likely to have babies who need a little extra support when they are born. This, combined with the wide range of emotions during bed rest, make these moms more susceptible to post-pardum depression.

So what can family, friends and medical providers do to support mom during her bed rest days? Here are some simple tips.

Visit. Visit. Visit.
It’s really that simple. These moms are often restricted in their trips out of the home or hospital. So it’s up to you to come to them. If possible avoid unexpected drop-ins. Rather, call or email to set up a time for a visit in advance. The reason is some moms are limited as to how often they can get up and walk, particularly when it comes to stairs.

I remember someone popping by to see me when I was on home-based bed rest. I was still in my bedroom, as I split my day evenly between the couch and the bed. I heard the doorbell ring, but was well aware it would take a while to make my way down the stairs. Plus I hadn’t had my shower yet and I knew that if I went downstairs I wouldn’t be able to go back up the stairs again for a few hours. So I opened my bedroom window, shouted down at my visitor and asked them to come back in an hour. While I was tempted to just walk down the stairs and open the door, I had recently been hospitalized for bleeding and knew I needed to follow the doctor’s orders of strict bed rest. After this experience, I asked all my friends to call me before they visited, so I was prepared (and was able to unlock the door during one of my bathroom trips before they arrived).

Bring Food
I cannot stress this point enough. It’s all about the food. Seriously. And don’t bring chips or candy. Bring healthy food and a variety of snack or meal options.

Here’s another challenge of bed rest — meal preparation. Whether it’s at home or in a hospital, pregnant women need to eat, a lot, but those moms on bed rest have to rely on others to bring them food.

Since you have agreed not to pop-in unannounced, when you are setting up a time for the visit ask what food you can bring. And if mom says she doesn’t need anything, still bring food. Ideally something fresh, healthy and homemade so mom doesn’t have to eat a list of ingredients no one can pronounce.

Get to Work
There are lots of chores to be done around the house while mom is helping baby incubate. Figure out what you can do to help while you’re visiting. Does the dishwasher need to be loaded or unloaded? Can you put a load of laundry in? How about sweeping floors or vacuuming? And what about baby’s room? Is it all ready for baby to come home?

If you’re visiting a mom in the hospital, you don’t get off the hook on chores. This mom likely had laundry that needs to be washed. And is there anything you can do to help her partner and/or kids that are at home?

One mom put sticky notes on her front door — both when she was on bed rest and after baby was born. Every visitor was required to pick a sticky note before entering the home. So what was on the sticky note? A specific chore that needed to be done.

This sent a very clear message — no idle visitors welcome. If you came to visit, you also had to be prepared to work. And if you didn’t like this, you could just leave before you even knocked on the door.

Keep Your Stress Free Pregnancy Stories to Yourself!
Seriously, the last thing a mom on bed rest wants to hear is how you worked until the day before your child was born. Or how you pushed three times and baby was born. Easy peasy.

Your stories of your stress-free pregnancy and childbirth experience make bed rest moms feel even more isolated and alone. If you are truly one of the blessed women to sale through pregnancy, keep your story to yourself. Go home and gloat later. But right now it’s about supporting the mom, and your story will only make her feel more depressed.

So now that you know how to support a bed rest mom, please share the information with other friends and family members. The more support mom gets, the better for her mental health and the well-being of baby.

For more tips on pregnancy bed rest 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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