Best Way to Understand Your Bed Rest Limitations during Pregnancy

Just as each pregnancy is unique, each bed-rest prescription, based on that doctor’s beliefs and practices, is different. Limitations can range from some activity restriction and periods of lying down (modified or limited bed rest), to complete bed rest at home (lying down with no bathroom privileges), to bed rest in a hospital. Bed­rest prescriptions can change during pregnancy, too.

Many women are advised to lie on their sides during bed rest, alternating left and right, to enhance blood supply to the baby. Try not to lie flat on your back: The weight of your baby may put too much pressure on blood vessels in your abdomen, possibly affecting blood pressure and blood flow.

Bed Rest Pregnancy Best Way to Understand Your Bed Rest Limitations during Pregnancy

To reduce pressure on the cervix, which can lead to contractions, a woman may be positioned so that her hips are higher than her head (the Trendelenburg position). Hospital beds can easily be placed in this position. At home, the bottom of the bed or couch can be raised using cinder blocks (your doctor will tell you how high). Your health insurance may also cover a hospital bed rental.

Bed-rest restrictions are reduced or lifted when health risks to your baby or you lessen. For example, when your baby reaches a healthy gestational age, you may be allowed to do more, or if your complication, such as preterm labor or bleeding, stops, bed rest may no longer be needed.

Many women on bed rest complain that they don’t receive clear bed-rest instructions. Says Leah, “I saw my doctor every two weeks and a high-risk specialist every week and neither explained clearly what bed rest was or what they expected of me.” Those who have been hospitalized after modified bed rest, or who were given strict at-home guidelines, often say this experience was less stressful because their limitations were made clear.

My own early bed-rest experience was frustrating. I was told I could work a few hours at home each day, but I never knew how long i should sit at my desk, or how often I could walk up the stairs. I fre­quently drove to the grocery store and walked to the mailbox (remember, my husband was often away on business), then won­dered if I’d done too much.

In retrospect, I should have demanded straightforward guidelines. With this in mind, I’ve created a checklist of bed-rest restrictions for you, your doctor, or a nurse to complete. Make several copies for updating as your pregnancy progresses. Also, consider posting this list by your bedside as a friendly reminder to visitors of your limitations. Remember, too, to listen to your body: If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

Leave a Reply