Understand the side effects

Bed rest during pregnancy can pose health risks, including:

  • A blood clot in a deep vein, such as a vein in your leg (venous thromboembolism)
  • Decreased bone mass (bone demineralization)
  • Musculoskeletal and cardiovascular deconditioning
  • Maternal weight loss or weight gain
  • Stress due to self-blame, child care issues, and concerns about job loss or finances
  • An increased risk of depression and anxiety

Know the rules

If your health care provider recommends restrictions on movement during pregnancy, ask questions to make sure you understand the rules.

  • Timing. Why do I need it? When will it begin? Will the restrictions be lifted if my symptoms improve?
  • Position. Is it OK to sit up? For how long? Can I climb the stairs? When I lie down, do I need to use a certain position? What can I do to help prevent blood clots?
  • Personal hygiene. Is it OK to get up to use the toilet, take a shower or wash my hair?
  • Activity. Is it OK to eat dinner at the table? Can I fold laundry or do other light chores? Can I drive a car? Is it OK to do gentle stretching or other types of exercise?
  • Sex. Is it OK to have sex? What about oral sex? Masturbation? Orgasms?

Coping with movement restrictions

To make the best of the situation:

  • Get organized. Make sure everything you need is within reach.
  • Beat boredom. Email, text or write letters. Organize photos or start a scrapbook. Shop for baby goods online. Read your way through the best-seller list. Learn relaxation techniques for labor.
  • Stay limber. If your health care provider approves, walk, stretch or do gentle exercises.
  • Accept help. When friends and loved ones ask what they can do, be prepared with a list of tasks — mowing the lawn, putting away groceries, building the crib, cleaning the bathroom, taking the kids to the park or keeping you company.
  • Help older kids adjust. If you have children, provide as much stability as you can — whether it's a regular baby sitter in the morning, a favorite aunt to pick them up from school or weekend visits from grandparents. Read books, color or watch movies together.
  • Seek support. To maintain a positive attitude, connect with other moms-to-be on bed rest or those who have been through it. Check for support groups online. If you're having trouble coping, ask your health care provider or mental health provider for additional help.
  • Expect emotional challenges. Share your fears, hopes and concerns with your partner. Let each other vent. If sex isn't allowed, look for other ways to maintain intimacy.

Remember, complete bed rest during pregnancy is typically no longer recommended, except in rare circumstances. If your health care provider recommends bed rest, ask him or her to discuss the reasons and if pelvic rest is an alternative. In the meantime, focus on staying healthy and the day you'll be able to hold your baby in your arms.

March 31, 2017 See more In-depth