If you’re a pregnant mom who is expecting multiples, experiencing pre-term labor, coping with an incompetent cervix – or any number of other pregnancy complications – your doctor may require you to be on bed rest during some or all of your pregnancy.
While going on bed rest might seem like a fantasy for many tired, overworked moms, it’s no picnic, especially if it lasts longer than a week. Whether you’re down for just a few days or for more than a month, you’ll need some coping strategies to help you get through long days spent in one place.
Here are a few ideas to help you get settled:
Listen to your doctor: Make sure you understand exactly what the rules of your stay on bed rest will entail. Are you allowed to get up to go to the bathroom? To take a shower? To get a drink? Once you have your game plan established, stick with it. Remember, it’s about taking care of yourself to keep your baby as healthy as possible. Also make sure you know all of the warning signs of preterm labor or other conditions that would require an immediate call to the doctor.
Accept help: If you’re on bed rest, especially if you have other little ones in the house, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Will you need to hire a nurse? Can a parent come and stay with you? How much help will your husband or partner be able to provide? If friends or relatives offer to pitch in, accept whatever help you can, or enlist someone close to you to coordinate offers for help. Also make sure that your primary helper (whether it’s your husband, a parent, or a nurse) gets a break every now and then too.
Line up activities: Lying around in bed all day might sound like a vacation, but when you’re pregnant and uncomfortable, it can get old pretty quickly. Have someone help you set up a bedside table with all of the distractions you might need for the day: TV, VCR or DVD player, computer, books, phone, games, a journal, or a sketchbook. Have easy snacks like crackers and fruit nearby, plus a big drink of ice water with a straw. And don’t forget your eye mask for when you’re ready to take a snooze.
Welcome visitors: You may feel like a wreck, but don’t let that stop you from letting people visit you. After more than a few days of solitary activities, you may welcome a cheery new face and some outside perspective.
Create special time: If you have other children, especially young children, it’s important to set aside special time to be with them. Snuggle up with them for their favorite TV show or movie, or make a special story hour with their favorite books. For older children, set up a board game, let them teach you their favorite video games, or use the time to help them with homework or practice for a quiz.
Find support online: When you’re on bed rest you can’t exactly get out of bed to meet other moms who are going through the same thing, but you can find plenty of them online. The national group Sidelines, for example, offers support for women experiencing difficult pregnancies. Many other online communities also have support groups for moms on bed rest.
Take heart: Time spent in bed may seem like an eternity, but it’s not (at most it’ll be just nine months). At the end you’ll have a beautiful new baby who’s healthier, thanks to your commitment and patience. Who knows, once you’re busy around the clock with your new baby, you might even look back on your bed rest time as a nice little memory.