Surviving bed rest without going crazy
Bed rest can be challenging, but with preparation and support, you will get through it.
Some women fantasise about being confined to bed for the duration of their pregnancy, where they can rest and watch TV and be legitimately lazy. But the reality of bed rest is that it can be boring, stressful, uncomfortable, and severely limiting. If you’ve been prescribed bed rest, you might be finding it far from enjoyable. Here are some tips for how to cope.
Stop the blame game
Lots of pregnant mums feel that they are somehow to blame for ending up on bed rest. Know this: It is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause this. And bed rest is not meant to be a punishment, but a preventative, to give your body and your baby the best chances.
The internet is your friend
You may think there’s only so much you can do from bed, but in our technologically connected society, you really can get just about anything sorted out. You can shop online, order library books, read, watch TV shows and movies, play games, chat on forums, do research, email friends and family, and even do some non-stressful work tasks. Take full advantage of the internet and use it as much as you can to take the load off and help you feel more in control.
Get emotional support
Bed rest can sap your strength and vitality, and can also make you feel very isolated, spending a great deal of time inside your own head, worrying about what might happen. Be aware of your moods – keep a mood journal so you can keep track of how you are feeling, and talk to your midwife if you find yourself becoming sad, depressed, and withdrawn. Reach out to friends and family to come visit or call you to check in. Online forums can be helpful to keep you from feeling like you’re alone while the world is moving ahead without you. And professional counselling can be a real help – many counsellors will hold appointments via Skype or telephone if you can’t find one who will come to your home.
Find out what activities you are allowed to do, and what you are not allowed to do, and go from there. Do you have to stay in bed 24 hours a day? What position are you allowed to be in – do you need to be laying down, or can you recline against pillows? Are you allowed to get up for a shower, or do you need to stay reclined in the bath? Can you go up and down stairs? Can you lift anything, like a basket of laundry? Are you allowed to get up to make snacks? Every bed rest prescription is different depending on the pregnancy condition that your LMC is addressing, so be sure you understand what’s allowed, and work within those guidelines.
Call in favours
Now is the time to ask for help from all of those wonderful, caring people in your life for whom you would do the same if they were in your situation. From running errands like grocery shopping, to meal preparation, to childcare if you have older children, when you tell people that you are confined to bed rest, they will undoubtedly tell you to ask them if you need help. Do it.
Set up for success
Gather what you’ll need ahead of time.
- Get your partner or a friend to set up a small chilly bin or mini fridge next to your bed with drinks, snacks, and lunch.
- Stock a basket or box with stationery – diary, pen, sketch book, coloured pencils, writing paper and stamps.
- Keep your phone, phone charger, phone top-up card, and any remote controls nearby so you can reach them easily.
- Keep emergency numbers handy, just in case.
- Move the TV and DVD player, and any gaming consoles, into your room for the duration. Catch up on movies you’ve wanted to see, and subscribe to a DVD-delivery service like Fatso so you can have movies delivered right to your letterbox.
- Stock up on library books (get someone else to pick them up and return them) – often you can order new books online from your local library and keep track of due dates. If you call your library and explain your situation, and possibly provide them with something in writing, you should be able to arrange for a friend or family member to use your library card on your behalf to check out and return books for you.
- Keep a supply of magazines and other reading material, and ask friends and family to give you their magazines before recycling them. Even back issues can hold inspiration!
- Depending on the nature of your work, you may be able to work remotely from home. Talk to your LMC and your employer about whether this is possible.
- Ask friends to bring over easily reheated casseroles and meals, or investigate meal delivery services.
- Home help services may be able to assist you with household tasks like meal preparation and cooking, household chores, cleaning, doing the dishes, laundry, gardening, pet care and dog walking, grocery shopping, and the like.
Get into a routine
To prevent yourself from feeling aimless and bored, set yourself a routine just as you would if you were still mobile. Try to stick to a normal day-and-night routine and break your day into increments – wake up, breakfast, shower or bath, read for an hour, cup of tea, call a friend, nap, lunch, etc.
Don’t nap too much
Try to sleep at regularly scheduled times, so you don’t confuse your natural sleeping and waking cycle.