Coping With Bed Rest
For some women, the doctor recommends total or partial bed rest during their pregnancy. They may be at high risk for preterm labor or other complications, requiring them to reduce their activity level, stay away from stressful situations, and keep the baby inside as long as possible. If your health care provider orders a dose of bed rest for you - whether it's for one day or for the duration of your pregnancy - you might try these coping strategies to help accept the restrictions and set realistic expectations.
- Get all the facts. Ask your doctor to explain the problem and suggest resources to learn more about your situation.
- Take control of your care. Learn everything you can about the treatment or medication you are taking, what side effects they might have, and how you can avoid them. If preterm labor is a threat, learn how to recognize it and handle it.
- Seek support. Find out if there are support groups in your area for women dealing with complicated pregnancies and check out websites that deal with pregnancy-related topics. Web-based chat rooms or bulletin boards for moms on bedrest can be a great source of support.
- Focus on the baby - not you. Rather than dwelling on how much time you have left, concentrate on your growing baby and how important it is for him to develop inside you.
- Set short-term goals. Make up goals for you and your baby on a daily or weekly basis then mark them off on your calendar each time you reach one.
- Let people help. It may be hard to ask for or accept help from friends and family, but you have no choice. Enlist those around you in your cause - whether it's going shopping at the grocery store or picking up shirts at the dry cleaners. Consider setting up a schedule so that your household continues to run.
- Allow yourself to vent. Even when pregnancy goes smoothly, women feel ambivalent and anxious. So when real problems arise you can expect to feel angry, upset and downright negative. Talk to your spouse, your doctor, friends, and family about your feelings. Better yet, keep a journal where you can let it all out - for your eyes only.
- Make yourself comfortable. Make sure you have everything within reach: pillows, telephone and address book, bottle of water, books, magazines, and whatever else strikes your fancy. You can even bring your laptop to bed!
Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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