Bed rest during pregnancy: Get the facts

Here's what you need to know about bed rest and pelvic rest during pregnancy, from side effects to making the best of it.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

When you're pregnant, a prescription to stay in bed might seem like a welcome break. In reality, however, restrictions on movement during pregnancy can pose challenges and even certain health risks. Here's what you need to know.

What is bed rest and is it recommended?

Bed rest during pregnancy is no longer recommended for most conditions. While bed rest increases blood flow to the placenta, there is no evidence that it decreases the risk of premature birth.

In the rare situations when bed rest is recommended, it is prescribed at varying levels of activity restriction. In some cases, it means decreasing your activity level for a period of time. You might be free to move about the house, as long as you avoid lifting children and doing heavy housework. You might even be able to continue working.

In other cases, bed rest guidelines are stricter. You might need to remain in a sitting or reclining position, only getting up to use the toilet or shower. You might not be allowed to work or do even light household chores until the baby is born.

What is pelvic rest and when is it recommended?

Pelvic rest might be recommended if you have a condition such as the placenta partially or totally covering your cervix (placenta previa), you're at increased risk of preterm labor or you have abdominal surgery during pregnancy.

Pelvic rest consists of avoiding activities that might increase pelvic pressure or pelvic muscle contractions, including:

  • Sex
  • Douching
  • Use of tampons
  • Repetitive squatting
  • Brisk walking or other lower body exercises
March 31, 2017 See more In-depth