I was working full-time, had recently moved into a new home, and unsuspectingly went in for my monthly pregnancy appointment with my OB. Suddenly my blood pressure was too high, there was protein in my urine, and I was on bed rest for preeclampsia.
It is frightening to hear your physician tell you that for the health of you and your unborn baby that you need to stay off of your feet and lie down on your left side for at least 20 out of 24 hours each day. Then reality sets in and you wonder – how will my baby and I survive bed rest?
Get the Facts from Your Physician
Before you leave your doctor’s office, make sure you ask as many questions as possible. Ask questions about the following:
How many hours each day do I need to spend lying down? Does my prone position matter? (i.e. I had to be on my left side for blood pressure benefits.) What minimal exercises can I do to help prevent blood clots from forming (a risk from remaining in one position too long)? If my symptoms or condition improves, will my bed rest be modified or lifted? Can I shower, bathe, and use the bathroom as usual? Can I drive? Are there any light household chores I can do? What about sex? (the burning question from every husband…)
Create a Bed Rest Haven
Bed rest, especially when it is unexpected, can take the wind out of your pregnancy excitement sails. I was envisioning the last months of my pregnancy shopping for baby items, preparing the nursery, and walking throughout my new neighborhood to encourage limber muscles for labor. You might feel emotionally deflated, scared, or frustrated. Creating a haven for your period of rest will go a long way to helping you through the feeling of being frozen in time and helpless.
Rally the troops – Call your mom, your girlfriends, and your neighbors and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Gather supplies (or have someone do this for you) – Take a basket or plastic tote and use it as your own bed rest emergency kit. Stock it with things like Tissue, lip balm, cell phone (and charger), iPod or other music source, hand sanitizer and wet wipes, prenatal vitamins, notepads and paper, books and magazines
Stay connected – Bed rest is one of those things that immediately takes away your independence and mobility, which is so vital for many women. Remaining connected can help you pass the time, remain emotionally positive, and even be productive.
Invite friends over to watch a movie. I remember my dear friend coming over with a bag of Doritos and a chick flick in the middle of the afternoon – a wonderful respite from the boredom.
Text, call, and keep in touch with family and friends throughout the day. Write letters (yes, people still do that by hand) – you can even write letters to your unborn baby. I have a letter saved from when I was on emergency bed rest with my son for bleeding during the first trimester. One day he will read my prayers that he live and grow to be a strong person, and of how much I loved him already then.
Stay fit (within reason and under doctor’s strict orders) – Check to see if there are any light exercises you can do such as stretching that will help keep your muscles limber and your body prepared for the rigors of delivery.
Mark the passage of time – One of the most challenging aspects of bed rest is the feeling that time is jumbled. You nap, you stare out the window, you knit, and you forget if one day moved onto the next. Create a ritual that will help you mark time. Maybe each morning you can look forward to your husband bringing you the paper and OJ, and every evening you get to Skype with your sister. Rituals are comforting and they help keep us on track (and sane).
Bed rest during pregnancy is not the easiest thing in the world, but the patience you must develop in order to survive it prepares you well for the patience you will need as a parent.