Preeclampsia & Bed Rest

Pregnancy bed rest is a treatment that is prescribed to some women during pregnancy. It involves limiting your activities by remaining in bed for a period of time during your pregnancy, in order to help ensure the health of both you and your baby. Pregnancy bed rest is actually a fairly common occurrence in pregnancies throughout the United States. In fact, almost one in five pregnant women undergo some type of bed rest during their pregnancies. And though it may sound like heaven to all of you pregnant women who are on still on your feet, it can be both physically uncomfortable and mentally challenging to have to deal with.

Types of Pregnancy Bed Rest
Though bed rest sometimes means that you are relegated to your bed, 24 hours a day, this is not always the case for someone who has been told to go on bed rest. Depending upon your health and the health of your baby, your health care provider may suggest a certain type of bed rest. Some bed rests last for just a few weeks while others last for an entire trimester of pregnancy. Other bed rests include:


  • Complete Bed Rest: During complete bed rest, you are expected to stay in bed 24 hours a day. You are only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and will generally be asked to lie on your side, in order to encourage proper circulation.
  • Partial Bed Rest: Also known as modified bed rest, this type of bed rest often allows women to get up from bed in order to cook, shower, or take a quick walk around the house. You may only be required by your health care provider to spend three or four hours in bed every day.


Why is Pregnancy Bed Rest Prescribed?
Pregnancy bed rest is generally prescribed in order to minimize the effects of certain health complications during pregnancy. If your health care provider feels that you or your baby�s health is at risk, she may prescribe bed rest in order to prevent further complications. Some type of bed rest is often prescribed for pregnant women experiencing the following complications:


  • gestational diabetes
  • preeclampsia
  • incompetent cervix or early effacement
  • placental problems, such as placenta previa or placental abruption


Women who are at high risk of entering into preterm labor or experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth may also asked to go on bed rest.

Pregnancy Bed Rest and Multiple Pregnancies
Multiple pregnancy is one of the most common conditions for which bed rest is prescribed. If you are expecting multiples, than you can probably also expect to go on bed rest. Because twins, triplets, and higher order multiples are considered high risk pregnancies, many health care professionals require that their patients go on bed rest at some point during a multiple pregnancy. Your health care provider may ask you to go on bed rest once you reach the 24th week of pregnancy, or she may choose to continue monitoring your pregnancy for problems before prescribing bed rest.

Is Pregnancy Bed Rest Effective?
Pregnancy bed rest is thought to be effective in a number of different ways:


  • Bed rest allows your body to stabilize itself
  • Bed rest helps to decrease stress and lower blood pressure
  • Bed rest limits activity and work load, lessening bleeding and effacement
  • Bed rest often helps to increase blood flow to the placenta


However, few studies analyzing the effectiveness of pregnancy bed rest are actually available. Therefore it is difficult to say whether or not bed rest is actually an effective treatment during pregnancy. One small study was performed on the use of bed rest during multiple pregnancies, which concluded bed rest was not an effective way to reduce the risk of preterm birth. However, more studies need to be done in order to truly assess the affects of bed rest on pregnancy.

What are the Health Risks of Pregnancy Bed Rest?
Unfortunately, there are some health problems that can result from pregnancy bed rest. Your health care provider will inform you of the possibility of developing:


  • blood clots (due to decreased blood circulation)
  • stiff joints
  • weak muscles
  • bed sores


The mental stress of bed rest is often the most negative side effect of this treatment. If you are relegated to bed rest, you may find yourself feeling isolated, lonely, and even depressed. Many women report feeling increasingly worried about the health of their unborn child while on bed rest, and this can definitely take it�s toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. For this reason, it is important that you voice any emotional discomforts to your health care provider and partner.

Taking the Boredom out of Bed Rest
Bed rest can be mind-numbingly boring, especially if you are stuck inside 24 hours a day. So here are some tips on how you can make use of your time while staying safe and comfortable!


  • Create a Comfortable Space: You could be in bed for quite a while, so it is important to make the most of the space. Buy some beautiful new sheets or a new throw for your bed, to help the place feel luxurious. Collect everything you need around the bed, including your television, remote, stereo, books, food, and water. Add a few flowers and some bright lights or candles to help make your room even more enjoyable.
  • Connect With Friends: Now is a great time to have friends over who you can chat with. Once your baby arrives, you may not have the time to entertain and friends are great for passing the time away!
  • Learn about Parenting: There are some great parenting books and DVDs out there, so make the most of your time! Become a parenting expert!
  • Take up a Hobby: Whether you have always wanted to write poetry or take up needlework, now is the time! Choose a hobby that isn�t too strenuous and that will provide you with a sense of entertainment and accomplishment.
  • Ask about Exercise: If you are forced to lie around in bed all day, your muscles will become weak and you circulation may suffer. You may find it beneficial to do short stretching exercise, particularly in the upper back and shoulders. Try shoulder rotatations and leg and arm lifts for better blood flow and overall conditioning. Be sure to consult with your health care provider first though.



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