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When the doctor orders bedrest

I was put on bedrest after a routine visit to my midwife’s office thirty weeks into my pregnancy. Although bedrest is not uncommon when expecting twins,  I still did not think it would happen to me. Pregnancy is already a busy and stressful time–you may be setting up the nursery or juggling work and young kids–and being told you must spend the remainder of your pregnancy horizontal can be a challenge to say the least. For me bedrest meant only getting up to use the bathroom and being driven to my weekly doctor’s appointment until I was told otherwise. This definitely forced me to do things differently, relinquish some control, and rely on the help of friends and family. In the end it was a strong bonding experience for our family. When I found out that someone I know who lives far away was put on bedrest, I was reminded of strategies that helped me cope:

iStock_000005654166XSmallFirst: Have a family meeting with your spouse, your kids (if you have some), and possibly your extended family to make a plan on how to handle the household chores, driving, doctor’s visits, etc. And while you’re addressing the practicalities of not leaving your bed much, you might want to prepare for the subtler issue of managing mood swings–pregnant women can be moody, and if you add in not being to able to take care of your home and being forced to watch other people take care of things differently than you would, the result can be increased stress.

You need to decide who will cook the meals and help with household chores. Will it be your husband, extended family, paid/bartered help, shifts from friends/neighbors, prepared food from the local market or a combination of these?

Make a schedule or spreadsheet that lists doctor’s appointments and what needs to be done daily or weekly for the household. Put everything on the chart, including your husband’s work schedule and other commitments. If you know certain relatives can visit or stay with you, mark down the days they can help and what they are responsible for when they come. When friends or family ask to help or want to visit, you will be able to check the chart to see when they are most needed. Try to spread out the visits so you maximize the amount of coverage every day. This will serve as good practice once your baby (or multiple babies) are born and you find you need even more help. Your husband will probably be working overtime taking care of the household, helping you and managing all the extra people that may be coming in and out of your home, but remember this is also a stressful time for him and he will need a break and some down time on occasion. It usually helps to set aside a time every day to check in with your partner and to allow each of you a chance to vent, plan, or cuddle.

In our house, my room was set up with the TV, movies, the phone, books, magazines, photo albums, and water bottles so everything was in my reach. At the time I did not have a laptop so I spent more time on the phone. We were also in the process of renovating our upstairs, which meant I had decisions to make regarding paint color, tile, etc. I therefore had little incentive to get up and clean closets since the baby room hadn’t even been built yet. So I busied myself with small projects, reconnected with friends, watched a great deal of movies and bad TV and read a ton.

I think it’s best to follow your doctor’s advice as to what you can and cannot do when it comes to bedrest. Once I was give the green light, I was able to sit up until I gave birth to my twin sons. Then I discovered that having newborns in the house presents its own set of challenges. Luckily I had overcome my issue with asking others for help. I was anemic from labor and exhausted. When visitors came to visit the babies and asked if they could help, I didn’t hesitate. Instead, I said, “Yes, please bring some diapers (or lunch).”

Staying Horizontal – and Sane! is a great article by Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect, that discusses what you can do for yourself or the person on bedrest to get through this challenging time.

Photo Credit: iStock Photography

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1 comment
  • Ugh, bedrest. It would be better now, with Hulu. In my day, (01 and 03) I was put on bedrest for preterm labor, but with the caveat that it had never been shown to have any benefit at all in terms of preventing preterm birth. My midwives said they just had to recommend it so I wouldn’t blame myself later if my babies were born prematurely.