Surviving Bedrest Without Losing Your Mind

Spending time on bedrest may sound like a vacation to most people in today’s super stressed society, but to be a woman who is already feeling the effects of pregnancy hormones racing through her body, it can sound like a death sentence.

Today’s moms are used to being on the go. Children’s activities, community events, volunteer work, and career obligations keep most modern mamas hopping. The idea of laying all of that aside to take a break probably has you wondering how you will survive the weeks of bedrest without losing your mind.

While some healthcare providers are questioning the wisdom of placing a mother on bed rest, the majority of healthcare providers still prescribe it on a regular basis, much to the chagrin of their patients.

In fact, roughly one third of all pregnant women spend time on some form of bedrest before delivery.

The majority of today’s women have obligations outside the home, and finding a way to manage it all from your bed may seem impossible, but it can be done!

7 What to Expect?

Bedrest is generally prescribed by your healthcare provider to help lessen complications that have risen during your pregnancy. Bedrest can be modified, which is the most lenient form of bedrest, or require hospitalization.

Bedrest can last from a few days, or the duration of your pregnancy. Healthcare providers are well aware that being prescribed weeks in bed is the last thing that most women want to hear. If your healthcare provider makes the decision to place you on bedrest, you can rest assured it’s not a decision that has been made lightly.

Doctors prescribe bedrest for a variety of reasons. Here are of the reasons that your healthcare provider may feel that you would benefit from being on bedrest :

  • high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or eclampsia
  • multiples
  • pregestational diabetes or gestational diabetes
  • intrauterine growth retardation
  • vaginal bleeding
  • issues with the placenta
  • complications of hyperemesis gravidarum
  • previous miscarriage, premature birth, or infant loss
  • premature labor

It’s important to remember that the reason why your healthcare provider prescribed bedrest is to ensure a positive outcome for you and your baby. As tempting as it may be to ignore your doctor’s cautions and “cheat” on your bedrest restrictions, you could be placing you and/or your baby at risk.

6 What Are My Restrictions While on Bedrest?

The restrictions that your healthcare provider places you under will depend on your condition, baby’s condition, and how well you are responding to treatment.

Sometimes simply slowing down and taking more time to rest helps the situation along. Other women need the around the clock care that a hospital can provide.

Bedrest universally requires avoiding lifting heavy objects, most forms of exercise, or other strenuous activities.

Ask your healthcare provider for your restrictions on the following activities:

  • household chores such as cleaning and cooking
  • exercise
  • working outside the home or at home
  • baths or showers
  • sex
  • driving
  • caring for your children
  • running errands

You will also want to ask your healthcare provider how long you are able to sit up for at a time, and what positions he or she recommends for maximum benefits.

If your bedrest is long term, your doctor will prescribe exercises to maintain muscle mass and flexibility. In the hospital, you will probably be visited by a physical therapist to help you with range of motion exercises and appropriate resistance exercises.

5 Why Are Some Doctors Against Bedrest?

The opposition to bedrest started with a paper written by three doctors from The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, that boldly called the practice of placing patients on bedrest “unethical”.

The doctors state that there is no concrete data that supports the implementation of strict bedrest to alleviate complications in pregnancy. The doctors call for controlled research to be performed on the subject, versus the anecdotal claims that support strict bedrest.

Women who are on strict hospital bedrest have been found to suffer from increased anxiety and depression, which most doctors chalk up to dealing with a higher risk pregnancy.

The trio of doctors who drafted the paper feel that modern medicine has much to offer in lieu of prescribing strict bedrest. However, they do admit that there are cases where strict bedrest is indicated for the benefit of the mother and baby.

The anecdotal evidence, presented by healthcare providers, indicates that bedrest, of some sort, is beneficial for mothers and babies in situations where certain circumstances are present.

While there is no concrete data that supports a direct link between bedrest and pregnancy outcomes, there have been cases where mothers have violated their healthcare providers wishes and encountered legal issues, because of the risk to the life of the baby.

4 Surviving Bed Rest

Some mothers know up front that some time spent on bedrest is a part of the plan, but most women are completely unprepared for their healthcare provider’s recommendation.

How much your life will change depends on what your healthcare provider’s recommended restrictions entail.

If simply slowing down and taking it easy are your only requirements, there won’t be a lot to juggle. If you are ordered to strict bedrest, or even hospital bedrest life will change drastically.


Your first concern will be finding emergency childcare for any other children that you may have.

Based on the ages of your children and your restrictions, you will have to come up with a game plan to make sure that life goes as smoothly as possible for them.

If you work outside the home, you probably have daycare in place already. Talk to your current daycare provider and see if arrangements can be made for your child to be cared for there. Keeping your child on a routine will help ease the uncertainty he or she may be feeling.

Another option is to ask for help from family members and friends. If you are on light bedrest, you can probably easily keep your children home with you, provided you have some extra help.

If you are on strict bedrest and only able to get up to use the restroom or shower, having the kids at home can be stressful, even with an extra set of hands. Children naturally want to be near their parents, especially young children. In this case, it may be better if your friend or relative can take your child to their home so that you aren’t tempted to fudge on your bedrest restrictions.

Establish a “new normal” for you and your family. Children respond well to the security of a routine. Even if you can’t be the hands on mom you were prepregnancy, you can still find ways to spend quality time with your children. Read to your child, play a game, watch movies together, or do a craft together.

Going from being able to care for your family on your own, to being confined to a bed is a difficult transition. It’s normal to feel anxious, depressed, or struggle with feelings of worthlessness. If any of these become an issue, talk to your spouse, a friend, relative, clergy member or counselor to help you gain perspective and coping skills. 

3 Handling Your Job

While most employers make provisions for maternity leave, they are not obligated to accommodate an extended medical leave, such as bedrest. Considering the number of women who find themselves placed on bedrest and unable to perform their jobs, this can be a major financial stress to families and employers.

The first step is to talk to your doctor about the possibility of continuing to work. If mild bedrest is required, you may be able to continue working, provided you heed your doctor’s restrictions on exercise, heavy lifting, etc.

Depending on the type of work you do, you may be able to work from home. Today’s technology makes it possible for you to perform your duties online, collaborate with coworkers, even video conference for face to face meetings.

If your job is a physical one, see if your employer has any provisions for extended medical leave. Ask if they have work you would be able to do from home.

Another option is working online, with your doctor's approval. There are thousands of ways for people to make money online from the comfort of their homes. You may have to accept a cut in wages, but any little bit can be a big help in a crisis.

2 Taking Care of You

After making arrangements for your children and at work, it’s time to focus on you. Weeks of bedrest can take its toll physically and emotionally on mothers who are used to getting it all done.

Here are some tips to help you sail through your time in bed:

  • Prepare for the day ahead. If you are instructed to stay in bed except for bathroom breaks, you will have to have everything you need close by. Have someone prepare a cooler of healthy snacks and drinks so you don’t have to make trips to the kitchen. Make sure you have your laptop close by, and any other technology to help you pass the time. Make sure devices are fully charged so that you don’t have to get up to look for a charger.
  • Get comfortable! Wear comfy, non restricting clothes. Make sure the room is just the right temperature, and you have the right bedding for the season. Using body pillows, or regular pillows to help position yourself can help to take stress off of muscles and joints. Your healthcare provider will probably recommend exercises that you can do to get your blood pumping and maintain muscle tone without hurting baby.
  • Explore your creative side! If you’ve always wanted to learn to knit, now is the time! Learning a new skill or even just exploring your creative side will help time pass and help you emotionally.
  • Reach out to friends and family. Being on bedrest is an isolating experience, and that fact alone can cause mothers to experience depression or anxiety. Keeping in touch with friends via text, social media, or even visits can be a boost to your spirits and is a vital part of surviving your time on bedrest. Order takeout and invite a friend over for a movie, or have your friend swing by Starbucks and pick up some coffee before a visit for some girl time. Maintaining the relationships you have with friends and family is especially important during a hard time, and it’s completely doable with a little effort and creativity.
  • Face it, you’re going to have to accept some help. If friends and family offer to help with housework or childcare, by all means let them. It’s hard to allow yourself to accept help from loved ones, but it will be absolutely necessary. If having family and friends help out isn’t possible, consider hiring a housekeeper, or nanny until you’re back on your feet.

  • Find ways to reach out to your significant other and your children. Having mom on bedrest is a big adjustment for them, too. Keeping the lines of communication open and looking for ways to nurture your relationship with them.
  • Find little ways to pamper yourself. Many massage therapists would be willing to make a housecall. The same goes for hair stylists, estheticians, and manicurists. Order meals in once in awhile. Some libraries even offer in home delivery. Keep a stash of your favorite coffee or tea on hand for a relaxing treat. Taking the time to doe little things to be good to yourself helps keep your spirits boosted!
  • Think positive! It’s way to easy to let yourself slip into negative thinking when you spend the day in bed. Banish those negative thoughts with uplifting music, or encouraging books by a favorite author. Make an inspiration board full of encouraging quotes and little things to brighten your day. Let the fresh air and sunshine into your room whenever possible.
  • Reach out! Being isolated and inactive for weeks at a time can cause you to struggle with depression and/or anxiety. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support from other moms who have been through bedrest. There are several sites online that offer encouragement, advice, and a listening ear from people who are going through the same thing you are. If your depression or anxiety becomes severe, mention it to your healthcare provider at your prenatal visit. He or she will be able to help you with some coping skills and, if necessary, medication to help you through this difficult time.
  • Being on bedrest gives you time to bond with baby, even before he or she is born. Spend time talking to baby, reading to baby, or listening to calming music. Responding to baby’s wakeful times can help you create a bond with baby and alleviate fears about his or her wellbeing. Remember, the majority of pregnancies result in a healthy baby.
  • Realize that this too, will pass. Keep ultrasound pictures of your baby and other children displayed where you can see them. Try to take this journey one day at a time, or one hour at a time, if necessary. Keep a pregnancy journal or make plans for after baby’s arrival to help you keep your eye on the prize.

1 Postpartum

When your time on bedrest is done and you’re holding your precious little one in your arms, the long days on bedrest will seem far behind you. If you have been on strict or even modified bedrest for any length of time, you may notice some side effects from your lack of activity.

You may get tired easily, or notice a loss of muscle tone. Your joints may ache from lack of use. Generally, these issues remedy themselves as you recover from labor and delivery. If you have concerns, feel free to address them with your healthcare provider.

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