Bed Rest May Not Be Best for Pregnant Women & Their Babies

woman sleepingIf you're someone who spent a significant amount of time on bed rest during a pregnancy, you may want to stop reading now and save yourself some frustration over time that may have been wasted. That's right, wasted. A new study says that bed rest may not only not help prevent complications like premature birth and miscarriage, but it actually could be potentially harmful.

Say what? For years -- centuries even -- doctors have prescribed bed rest. According to estimates, one in five women is told to limit activity at some point in her pregnancy. Women have given up jobs, had to scramble to find care for older children, and otherwise turned their lives upside down to adhere to the prescribed bed rest. Now we learn it may have all been for naught.

The study, which was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, followed 657 pregnant women who were at high risk for delivering premature babies. Of the 250 who were put on bed rest to lower their risk, nearly 40 percent of them still delivered prematurely. The most shocking part, however, was that was double the number of those who weren't put on bed rest.

Other studies have pointed to complications of bed rest such as an increased risk of blood clots and muscle atrophy. So why risk those things, if it's not dong any good any way? You shouldn't according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who advise against it for the prevention of premature deliveries. More study is need, but for now doctors are being urged to really weigh the justification for prescribing bed rest.

I was on bed rest for less than a week, as doctors attempted to prevent the premature delivery of my son. It didn't work, and he was born at 27 weeks, but I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to be on it for months at a time. So to think of doing it all for nothing is frustrating at best.

Sure every pregnant woman dreams of having someone force her to lie down and relax a bit, but the reality of bed rest is anything but relaxing. It's fraught with all sorts of fear, discomfort, and restlessness. So in many ways this is good news for pregnant women who may be able to avoid it. More importantly, however, it will hopefully lead to other discoveries about how premature deliveries actually can be avoided.

Have you ever been on bed rest for a pregnancy? Does this news surprise you?


Image via Bob Mical/Flickr

is it safe, pregnancy health, complications


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Missy... Missy2cats

I was never on bedrest but i knew women who were, and it sounded like it was necessary.

Melanie Duddridge

If there is even a small chance that it could prevent or postpone prematurity, why not do it??? I went into labour at 24 weeks. Thankfully, it stopped and I was put on strict bed rest for the seven weeks until she was born. In fact, I was released from the bed rest June 7th (after 4 weeks hospital bed rest and 3 weeks home bed rest) and went into labour that night!

This article could be potentially damaging to women in certain situations. It totally depends on WHY the bed rest is being prescribed.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

As long as it's not taken as an excuse to not move whatsoever, I don't see a problem. If you're only getting up to pee and shower, of course you're high risk for blood clots. But the flip side of that study is that 60% didn't deliver prematurely, that's a stat I like.

Tracys2 Tracys2

The article states that putting women on bed rest seems to make premature birth MORE likely. It could be that bedrest may help a small number of women with a specific complication (and in some cases, of course, allow monitoring etc), but if the results hold up to scrutiny, it seems that bedrest will be a thing of the past, and women and babies healthier for it- that would be GREAT news!

B1Bomber B1Bomber

I was on bed rest for preeclampsia. My resting blood pressure was (medicated) about 165/95. Shifting around in bed bumped it up eight or ten points. Getting up to use the bathroom or shower bumped it to 200/110 or more. Even with bed rest, the high bp caused beginning kidney failure in less than a week. Without it, I could have developed organ failure or eclamptic seizures.

The point is that all recommendations should be weighed on a case by case basis.

Mrscj... Mrscjones

I was put on bed rest with my first. Bleeding, high blood pressure. I rested since I was 3 months pregnant and I had a healthy baby at 40 weeks. If there's a chane since the majority of the women in the study bed rest helped. Why not rest your carrying a human there's alot that can't be accounted for.

nonmember avatar Mallory

I was on bed rest in the hospital for three months and it worked wonders for me! My twins were born healthy at 36 weeks !

Christina Mancuso-Henry

I think that saying it's unnecessary puts women who truly need it in jeopardy of pushing themselves to the point where something bad does happen. Spread the word that it's "unnecessary" and men will not be as supportive when a woman feels that it is necessary. They'll think that women are just being lazy or using their pregnancy as an excuse not to do things around the house. This news sounds like a crock to me - something written by a group of disgruntled male doctors.

nrouette nrouette

I truly believe to this day that my self imposed bed rest saved my 2nd child's life when I was dx with a threatened miscarriage in my first trimester. She wound up going 2 weeks past her due date, she got so comfy :-) I was also put on br at the end of all four pregnancies due to PIH, had pre-eclampsia with the first, & probably would have stroked out without bedrest. It's definitely a case by case basis!

femal... femaleMIKE

Statistics are meaningless

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