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Bed Rest: Why it Happens and How to Cope

August 20, 2012

Bed rest is near the top of the list of many pregnant women’s fears toward the end of their pregnancies. At a time when you’re finishing up last minute preparations, tying up loose ends at work, and, in some cases, feeling a burst of “nesting” energy, being told to stay put can feel oppressive, and a little bit scary! Feeling as if you and your baby are in a somewhat fragile situation can be unsettling and may leave you with a lot of questions.

Bed rest may be recommended for a number of reasons. In some cases, a pregnant woman’s blood pressure can rise and lead to pre-eclampsia, and limiting physical activity and exertion can help to keep the condition under control. Other reasons for bed rest might be a risk of premature dilation of the cervix, or vaginal bleeding. Whatever the cause, the goal of bed rest is to stabilize a pregnant woman’s body in order to stay healthy and pregnant for as close to term as possible. For some women, bed rest may simply mean limiting stair climbing, heavy lifting, and any activity which may elevate their blood pressure. For others, they may be confined to the bed for most of the day, lying on their side or elevating their legs. Still others may require hospitalization for a brief period.

Bed rest can be nerve-wracking. When you are told to do nothing, your mind often works overtime, worrying about your health and your baby, and thinking of all of the to-do’s on your list that aren’t being checked off! Try to feel productive and keep your mind engaged by giving yourself plenty of low-exertion tasks that can be done from the comfort from your bed or sofa. You may want to take this quiet time to finish up work activities, write thank-you cards for baby gifts you’ve already received, and order baby items online in order to stock up your nursery. You might also catch up by phone with friends before the baby is born, or invite over friends or family for an afternoon of movie-watching and conversation. Even little pampering activities like doing your nails or catching up on a novel can be calming and keep your mind occupied.

Remember, even though bed rest can be tedious and frustrating, every day you spend on bed rest is a victory for you and your baby! The longer you take it easy and stay at rest, the more time your baby has to grow and develop inside you. Consult with your doctor about his/her recommendations and keep your thoughts positive, and your time at ease will become more bearable.

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