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8 Reasons Why You May Be Put On Bed Rest During Pregnancy

7 min


Has your doctor advised you a bed rest during pregnancy?

Otherwise known as ‘activity restriction’, bed rest is prescribed for almost 20% of pregnancies each year. It is one of the many things recommended to avoid pregnancy crisis.

Doctor-recommended bed rest may range from simple resting at home to complete, supervised bed rest in a hospital depending on how the pregnancy is progressing.

Here, MomJunction tells you all about bed rest during pregnancy and why it is essential in some cases.

What Does ‘Bed Rest’ Mean?

Bed rest refers to limiting your activities to just a few basic ones, for a specific period. Sometimes all that you are allowed to do is move around the house a little to use a shower or toilet. You should avoid lifting heavy objects or doing extremely difficult or tiring household chores.

Sometimes, when complete bed rest is necessary, the doctor may advise hospitalization.

Moreover, being on bed rest will improve blood flow to the placenta, saves a lot of energy and prevents pregnancy complications.

When Will A Doctor Put You On Bed Rest During Pregnancy?

Multiple pregnancy issues can lead to bed rest. Your doctor will put you on bed rest and also discuss the measures you need to take to stay healthy in the following scenarios.

  1. Placenta previa: This is when the placenta is situated lower than its actual position, blocking the cervix. Bed rest, in this case, will avoid any additional pressure on the placenta and cervix.
  2. Preeclampsia: This condition usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy, due to elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine, and edema. Severe cases could put both you and your baby at risk and may warrant complete bed rest in the hospital for constant monitoring.
  3. Cervical insufficiency: Prior cervical damages, cervical lacerations or congenital abnormalities in the uterus may cause the fetus to slip off the womb. In such a condition, bed rest is highly recommended to avoid any pressure on the cervix.
  4. Pregnancy bleeding: Sometimes, there may be slight bleeding or spotting during pregnancy due to conditions such as placental abruption, cervical rupture or uterine tear. Your doctor may advise bed rest until the spotting stops. Sometimes, bleeding or spotting may lead to bed rest throughout the pregnancy.
  5. Overactive lifestyle: If you lead a very active lifestyle and do not pay attention to your health and nutrition, you will be ordered complete bed rest. Having a balanced diet and staying relaxed will promote healthy fetal development and minimize the need for bed rest.
  6. Oligohydramnios: It is the presence of low amniotic fluid, which puts you and your baby at risks. Therefore, bed rest at home or hospital is required for continuous monitoring of the mother and the fetus.
  7. Multiple pregnancies: Although bed rest is not routinely advised if you are carrying twins, it is essential in the case of multiple pregnancies like triplets or quadruplets, when you are highly prone to complications.
  8. Preterm labor: Pregnant women who show signs of early labor or begin to contract before 37 weeks of pregnancy require bed rest. This can help in delaying the labor up to the full term.

Even if you are not experiencing any of the above symptoms, your doctor may suggest bed rest if he or she thinks you’ll benefit from it. Read on to know more about it.

Are There Different Types Of Bed Rest?

Yes, not all pregnant women need to rest all the time. Different doctors prescribe different types of bed rest depending on your condition and requirement.

  1. Scheduled resting: This is usually suggested for mothers in their third trimester, older mothers or those carrying multiples. You will be asked to rest for some time every day, to limit your work day or to avoid exerting activities such as walking, stair climbing or standing for extended periods.
  2. Modified or partial bed rest: This refers to spending part of the day in bed or lying down or resting. The amount of rest your doctor suggests may vary from a couple of hours to an extended portion of the day. You are prohibited from driving, working, handling household chores, exercising, or lifting weights. You are allowed to work on a desk at home, but for a short period.
  3. Strict or complete bed rest: This is precisely what it says. You should be in bed all day long and may have restrictions to shower and toilet usage. While in some cases you can sit and eat, other cases you can only stay reclined all the time.
  4. Hospital bed rest: It is the strictest form of bed rest that will not let you get up at all during the day. You have to use a bedpan, and it includes special positioning on the hospital bed. Ideally, your head will be positioned lower compared to your body to relieve pressure on the cervical region.

You may require scheduled and modified bed rest only for a few weeks to alleviate pregnancy-related complications such as fluid retention, high blood pressure and more. But strict and hospital bed rest is usually recommended to prevent preterm labor.

How Does Bed Rest Help Pregnancy?

Your doctor will advice bed rest for any of the reasons listed above if you can benefit from it or to make your delivery safe.

  • Bed rest improves blood circulation in the uterus and provides oxygen and nourishment to the fetus.
  • Your cervix, placenta, and uterus will be free of additional pressure.
  • It improves blood flow throughout the body and therefore prevents edema.

Questions To Ask When Your Doctor Advises Bed Rest

If your doctor recommends bed rest during pregnancy, try to ask as many questions as you need to clear all your doubts.

  • How long do I need bed rest?
  • Is it okay to take a shower or use the bathroom?
  • Is it alright to use stairs?
  • Is it okay to drive or travel?
  • Is it fine to do household chores and take care of my children?
  • Should I avoid lifting objects?
  • Do I have to remain in the bed all the day? Or can I go to work?
  • What should be my lying position?
  • Is it okay to have sex?
  • Is it okay to perform specific exercises?
  • What are my other limitations?

Regardless of why you need bed rest and how long you need it for, it is important that you stay in the right posture or position when you rest.

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