Defining Bed Rest

Pregnant woman lying in bed
Flickr photo by ben.vancamp
Most mothers-to-be dread the idea of bed rest almost more than anything else in pregnancy.

Bed rest is prescribed for a number of pregnancy conditions, and though the vast majority of pregnancies are safe and don't need it, those who do can find it confusing.  For instance, did you know that "bed rest" can mean a number of things?


These include:

  •  Mild Bed Rest means stay close to home, decrease your activity level, and don't work out, but you can still generally move around.
  • Home Bed Rest means generally stay at home, get help with other children or household tasks, and spend a few hours in bed each day.
  • Strict Bed Rest is when you must remain in bed and get up only to go to the bathroom. This one very often comes with the added bonus of delightful sponge-baths since showering is verboten.
  • Very Strict means you remain in bed on your left side and use a bedside toilet. Very often you also stay in the hospital for the remainder of the pregnancy.

The theory is that bed rest decreases the pressure sitting on the cervix and increases the amount of blood flowing to the placenta. Some conditions that involve bed rest include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Vaginal bleeding or placenta issues
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Preterm labor

The time a woman will be on bed rest varies depending on when in the pregnancy a problem is diagnosed, but for many active women, there is little more disheartening than hearing they have to change their lifestyle.

But hang in there. It's temporary and once that baby arrives, most say they forget all about how he or she got here. Tomorrow I'll post five tips for making bed rest tolerable, but in the meantime:

Did you have bed rest? If so, why? And how did you spend the time?

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