Coping with Bed Rest during Pregnancy

Every woman is different; every pregnancy is different, and different women cope with pregnancies in different ways.  For most women, pregnancy is a smooth and uneventful affair, but sometimes it is necessary to take additional precautions in order to maintain the safe gestation and delivery of the baby, as well as the well-being of the mother.  One of the precautions that doctors routinely advice is bed rest for the expectant mom.  This can be prescribed for a number of reasons: to prevent pregnancy complications, as a way for the mother to get some much needed rest, or a combination of both.  Although bed rest may mean continuous stay in bed for a short or long term period, there are several ways of coping with it so that it serves its purpose emotionally, mentally and physically, and does not leave the mom-to-be in a worse situation than when it was prescribed.

Bed rest is better when the mother does not have to worry about finances; I had to go on bed rest in the first trimester of my first pregnancy. I had already exhausted my sick leave, and was concerned about my insurance premiums being paid, because I would not be earning a pay check for three months.  To remove this worry, I worked out a plan with my employer whereby I just remitted a check for my half of the premium to the personnel office biweekly. For a mother who does not have insurance or cannot afford one, apply for medical aid from your local Department of Health and Human Services as soon as you know you are pregnant.  This is primarily for the baby, but will also take care of your needs until three months after the baby is born.

It will not do you any good to be running errands or doing a lot of chores when you are supposed to be in bed.  Talk to your friends and relatives to find out who would be willing to help you when and how. Although pregnancy hormones may not allow it, this is a good time to be chummy with husbands, uncles, nephews and male cousins – for picking up the kids from school, helping with little handy-work around the house, mowing the lawn, or even extra cash. If you do not have such help, talk to your social worker to see what can be done to relieve you a little bit.  If you do have to do things yourself, then make sure to bundle chores together, so you have lots of time to rest in between.

The TV set will provide enough entertainment just long enough to keep you from boredom for only a week or so; after you have exhausted the soap operas, catch up on favorite shows, and watched countless reruns, your brain is itching for something else.  Take the opportunity to read, play electronic games, have your nails done (if you can have someone come to the house.  If not, ask one of your girlfriends or relatives), or begin writing that best seller you have been wanting to for the past ten years.  In addition, use this opportunity to bond with the father; he may not want to do it all the time, but one of my best treats on bed rest was having breakfast in bed. You can also use this opportunity to watch his favorite shows with him; an hour or so of football will strengthen the relationship as well improve emotional bonding; after all, you are not going anywhere anytime soon. 

Bed rest can be difficult if you have other children constantly vying for your attention. Explain to them that mommy has to stay in bed because of the baby so she cannot go to the fridge to pour juice every ten minutes.  If you have a child old enough, teach them the basics like how to make noodles, peanut butter and jelly, or boil an egg, or change diapers of a younger child. Keep them entertained with games and activities that will distract them from you.  Arrange for somebody to take them out of the house for a while so you can have some peace and quiet, and just basically let them know why you are in bed all day. You may be surprised that they will start looking out for you in their own cute ways.

Bed rest is really allowing nature to work its magic in addition to any medication you may be taking for the pregnancy. Use the opportunity to rest, as well as improve yourself mentally and emotionally.  It may not always be easy to do it when life is full of so much responsibility, the key is to relax and focus on the baby as well as yourself – you can always pick up after the baby is born.