Bed Rest During Pregnancy Might Not Be Helping at All

toes in bedFor some pregnant women, hearing the words bed rest is like hearing the always correct fortune teller saying you are going to have a painless, all-natural birth that will be over in 10 minutes. Perfect! It's like being "forced" to relax, feet up, massages, and grapes being fed to you by your shirtless husband who has just spent the last two hours scrubbing the bathroom so you can take the best bath ever. For others, bed rest is the most awful sentence. Stay in bed? Impossible! But many of us do it for the health and safety of our pregnancy. It's prescribed to us by our doctors.

What if I told you that some new research is saying it doesn't prevent premature birth like we all thought it did. What if it makes that risk even worse? 


I was on modified bed rest. According to my doctor, that meant I can still get up and walk around but I should be taking it easy, not walking too much, and putting my feet up as much as possible. I started working from home more and limited my commute. I was pregnant with twins and was very short of breath and experiencing edema in my legs. It's reported that 1 in 5 pregnant women are put on some form of bed rest. But the latest information is saying it doesn't have the benefits we thought it would have.

"Bed rest is misperceived as an inexpensive, innocuous, logical recommendation," wrote Dr. Joseph Biggio Jr. of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Some obstetricians and ethicists at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, radically said it's an unethical prescription given to pregnant women

That's quite a statement. When studying women who were put on bed rest due to a short cervix and to prevent a preemie birth, it was discovered that even when restricting their activity (which typically was activity restrictions including sex, work, and non-work), around 37 percent still had a premature baby. And get this: the 17 percent of the women who didn't go on bed rest had a preemie. Meaning premature birth happened more likely when the woman was on bed rest. The authors cautioned that more research has to be done before we solidify that conclusion, but it does raise the issue of what harm can be done when we are on bed rest.

Like I mentioned before, bed rest isn't welcomed by all moms and can bring out stress and anxiety, which by themselves could put a mom at risk for a preemie as well as blood clots and bone and muscle loss. Stress, stress, stress. Not what we need during pregnancy. And it looks like some of us don't need bed rest either. I'm looking forward to more studies on this as it's clearly not black and white.

What do you think of this study? Were you on bed rest? Did it help?


Image via Sarah/Flickr

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