16 July 2014

Ever been on pregnancy bed rest? Please share your #parenthacks!

I'm writing the "Preparing for Baby" chapter in the forthcoming Parent Hacks book (did I mention I'm writing a book?) and it occured to me that some of my future readers may read it while on bed rest.

Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum Online Collection
Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum Online Collection

I'm doing research into how folks handle bed rest, but (not surprisingly) I think you have the smartest and most creative suggestions.

Would you like to help me with this part of the chapter?

If you've experienced pregnancy bed rest, I'd love to hear your best tips for how to cope.

  • How did you use your time?
  • How did you handle frustration and boredom?
  • How did you work with your family and friends for support?
  • Any other tips you'd offer other moms on bed rest? 

Please leave a comment, and be sure to include your name so I can credit you in the book.

Thank you, dear Parenthackers!

Your comments

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I did 7 weeks with my second. Older daughter (former preemie) was 3 1/2 at the time. Delivered daughter #2 safely at 38 weeks. Doc wanted to take her at 37 and I made him wait a week--safer. Avoided the NICU completely.

How did you use your time?
I couldn't even sit up, so I laid around. I worked from home horizontally, but I had an issue with no one wanting to "bother me" and they wouldn't send me much work. I binge-watched West Wing on DVD plus whatever was on TV. I read some books. I got grumpy and my days/nights kept switching up.

How did you handle frustration and boredom?
Email, mostly. It was before Facebook really took off--2006. My mom loaned me a ton of DVDs.

How did you work with your family and friends for support?
Hubby took daughter to preschool two mornings a week.
I was allowed to drive to get her from preschool and to go to the hospital for tests twice a week. The preschool teacher would bundle her up and bring her downstairs to the van so that I didn't have to walk in. That was it.
Friends, family, neighbors, etc. watched daughter sporadically.
In-laws came to town each Friday and took daughter out for the day.
Some friends came and cleaned for me once.
My mom would come up on Saturdays and do all the laundry and visit.
We did Christmas at our house with me horizontal on the couch and everyone potlucking it.

Any other tips you'd offer other moms on bed rest?
Pay for a cleaning lady to come. Just do it. It's worth it.

If you're high-risk, pre-nest and get everything ready early. I was ready for baby before 20 weeks because I'd had preeclampsia the first time.

If you know someone on bed rest, visit them. Call them. They are so, so bored, and so lonely, and so cranky and restless, and so worried about baby. Don't think you're a bother. Offer to take food when you visit and clean something while you're there. I don't care if you just go binge-watch Netflix together--you're a human!

I had a c-sec and once I was about 3 weeks postop, I started wanting to break free from isolation and get back out into the world. It was strange how stressful it felt to even go to Target--I had to ease back into the world.

I was on bed rest for 6 weeks with preterm labour. My biggest tip is to have a routine. Every morning I would get dressed for the day, even if I was getting back into bed. Occasionally I would move from bed to couch. Either way, getting up and dressed made me feel better.

I did a lot of reading and caught up on a ton of podcasts. I think podcasts are the best because you don't need to do anything or hold anything to be entertained.

The other thing that was helpful was I researched recipes and made a meal plan/shopping list every week for my husband, so he could take over the shopping and meal prep.

2 items - Cell phone to text my hubby if I needed anything and an iPad for TV/reading/emails etc. Bed rest for 3+ weeks and even build a website for the munchkin before she arrived.

I was on bed rest at home for 7 weeks and 3 weeks in the hospital with twins. Having a visitor a day (usually other SAHM's) really helped. Meal sign ups to keep me out of the kitchen but still eating quality food, books- especially about baby sleep routines, creating a registry, and movies. I also recommend doing some light movement (think more in terms of dr. approved physical therapy stuff that you can do lying or sitting up which I didn't know about until I was hospitalized). Helps to move the joints and get some blood flowing so you don't kill your hips and back laying or sitting all day.

Currently In bed rest for 4 weeks (only 1 and half week has passed) second pregnancy. My 3 1/2 daughter went to stay with my parents. I miss her so much but it is better for her to enjoy de summer.
Netflix, music, books, messages. My mom cooked and freeze a lot of food, pay a cleaning service to come twice a week and my husband does the laundry in the weekends.
Hoping and praying to pass the 28 week mark

On bed rest from 26 weeks on with pregnancy #1 of 3 (unknown incompetence cervix found at routine ultrasound). I delivered at 39 weeks so in total it was 13 weeks. This was in 2006 before Netflix and other on demand services were available. My husband set up our computer so I could stream movies to our bedroom. I taught myself new skills thanks to the Internet, google and YouTube. I learned to crochet and knit. I worked on projects I had been putting off, like family history (genealogy), organizing digital photo library, made lots of thank you cards for after baby delivery, etc. I planned freezer meals my husband could shop for and assemble. I luckily had friends who checked in on me weekly and I didn't have older children that needed caring for. I think the best thing for me was to realize bed rest was saving my baby's life and really I'd been given the gift of time. I did nothing else but stay in bed as directed. My husband did house chores and made sure I had anything I requested. Really my best advice is just to embrace the free time. Don't worry about house work or your other children if you have them. This is truly a time to focus on keeping the bun in the oven.

These are truly wonderful tips. Erika! Sending you love from here!

I spent 2 weeks in bed with my first, 6 weeks with my 2nd, and 4 with my third, all for pre-term labor and early dilation. My best advice is to stock up on books (although all of mine were before tablets/Netflix/etc.) I chose a series, with my second, and it was an enormous story that drew me in and kept my mind off of the boredom. With my older kids, I was very fortunate to have family that were willing to either take them or to come hang out with us. Be prepared for your sleep patterns to be totally screwed up--you're doing nothing, and you'll nap a lot. Just embrace it, and if you're awake at 3 a.m., well--it's just your body getting you ready for the baby. If I had to be home alone, hubby would set up a small table with accessible snacks, water, phone, (the next book), and any other things that I might need. Be honest with your family and support group. Tell others how you are feeling, and what you need. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't think that anyone thinks you're lazy. If they do, they're never going to get it, anyway. Not everyone has the resources to hire a cleaning service or send their kids to daycare. Just tell those that care about you that you need help. The people who love you will be willing to help take care of you and your growing baby.

Shop for your baby online. Read up on all the latest books and magazines. Enlist help of mother to care for other children. Ask friends and family to get your favorite foods. Play games, watch a lot of movies that you may not have time for after the baby comes. Invite friends over for movies and dinner in bed. Most of all, relax. 5 months on bedrest and I survived.

5 MONTHS, Nicole! Wow. I'm now thinking about inviting friends over for dinner in a movie in bed, and I'm not on bed rest. I'm not even pregnant.

I agree with the great comments above. It takes a lot of patience for a couple to face this kind of challenge, which throws household responsibilities out of whack, presents a financial strain, and involves fear for the baby and mother's health. I recommend having brief "checking in" conversations with your spouse often in which you both discuss your thoughts, interests, fears, and any lingering misunderstandings. Also, a completely unexpected part of my bed rest (2 months for first, 1 month for second) were the people who were completely unsupportive or in rare cases, actively hostile about my situation. This included people I regarded as incredibly close friends; they questioned the need for bed rest, implied I might be making it up, and criticized my adherence to it (I had to stay off of my feet but didn't have to remain lying in bed, and I was allowed to use the bathroom) even though they never sought any information about the situation or its requirements from me. A few other family, friends, and coworkers were more subtle in their lack of support, mostly by responding to the bed rest with skepticism and 20 questions rather than any concern for the baby or me. However, most people were supportive. I urge anyone who is dealing with a medical need/crisis and experiences hostility from family or friends- protect yourself from that negative influence and stress by creating firm boundaries as soon as possible. The saying is true: you find out who your friends are when you are in the hospital (or are otherwise in need).

I was on bed rest for eight weeks. This was 16 years ago, so not too much internet and no laptops... Basically I read a lot, read all the old magazines I'd been saving, watched TV and movies and tried to develop a routine. The highlight of my week was heading to the doctor for a shot - both I got to leave the house and another week had passed.

As others suggested, if you know anyone on bed rest - please stay in touch. Its very boring and disconnecting and of course you spend your time worrying and then worrying about worrying etc. Most people were supportive, but unfortunately didn't drop by enough.

Also try to stay awake during the day, as its hard enough to sleep at night when you've been in bed all day. Ask your doctor if there are any exercises you can do as you lose a lot of muscle tone by being in bed - I'm pretty sure my back problems started then.

In the end, focus on the fact that you are doing the best thing for your child and try not to worry about anything else.

I was on bed for 18 weeks with my third pregnancy(first two ended at 18 weeks and 13 weeks). I had to be horizontal the entire time including eating, I could shower every couple of days, and when I went to the hospital, I had to be pushed in a wheelchair. I had remotes to everything--AC,TV, DVR,laptop. I did some work from home. The best thing I did was to move my bedroom to the dining room, so I could be on the first floor and it was easier when I had visitors. My husband hated to grocery shop, so I used a delivery service. My mom came most days for a few hour and she cleaned and did laundry. We had a lot of people bring us meals. We also had a party or two so I would not feel left out. Sometimes it was lonely but you just do what you have to do. Delivered at 38 weeks to a healthy baby boy.

I spent 4 1/2 months on bedrest with the final 8 being in the hospital. One of my twins experienced premature rupture of membranes in the second trimester.

At home, I spent a lot of time watching Netflix and reading. I did whatever I could to NOT think about the imminent danger surrounding my pregnancy. Shopping for the babies was impossible as my outcome was so unknown, so I distracted myself with a lot to avoid thinking about it. I had a mini fridge by the bed for quick snacks. I allowed myself a shower every other day and looked forward to it immensely. I also kept a calendar and checked off days toward my goal.

Taking it one day, and then one week at a time is really important. When I looked at the whole situation it was overwhelming and seemed impossible. Breaking it into smaller chunks made it seem less daunting and more manageable.

Things were easier in the hospital, believe it or not. Food was delivered to me so the burden I felt I placed on my huhsband was gone. I watched a lot of bad cable, played with my ipad, and settled into a routine. In retrospect those days are a blur because I kept it so scheduled. The nurses brough a new sign in every week that the girls got older. I had weekly sonos on a different day to look forward to, Daily showers (yes, they let me increase my frequency!) were great. Also, get a cheap egg crate mattress topper for the hospital bed. You begin to indent things after lying in them for awhile, and the pressure from the mattress exacerbated my sore joints.

My best advice is to start exercises EARLY. By the time I considered physical therapy my body was so weak I could barely manage them. My recovery was more difficult due to the strain placed on my hips being in bed for so long. By the end of my pregnancy I was incredibly uncomfortable in bed.

I was on bedrest for 4 weeks with one pregnancy and 8 weeks with another. I highly recommend learning a new skill - I learned to knit and I continue to knit almost 5 years later.

I found the way to get through my 3 week bed rest was to employ the same techniques I used while I was unemployed. Set goals for myself - obviously within reason! I would start my day by reading up on all my favourite blogs , newspapers RSS feeds etc. then set a goal to read a few chapters from a professional development book ( lean in, a nice rereading of emotional intelligence, hbr case studies etc). Then some baby books and followed by some light yoga stretches to keep up my strength. I can't dress enough the light exercise! It really came in handy!

I did 80 days in the hospital on bed rest with an incompetent cervix at the beginning of 2003. I had to stay mainly on my back and in the first couple of weeks they gave me this nasty drug that gave me a metal taste in my mouth, wouldn't allow me to focus my eyes easily, and I was so hot! I kept the windows open and I was in just a skimpy hospital robe. It was January and people would keep their coats on when they visited! During this time I mainly slept and got to know the nursing staff really well. I also watched a lot of TLC. Hospital cable had a lot less channels than standard cable. I couldn't really read during this time because of the problems focusing my eyes.

After about 3 weeks, they started using a different drug to stop contractions. This one was much better! I built a blog for my daughter from scratch. Wordpress would have been so much easier, but this was 2003. I had taught myself HTML before I went into the hospital but I had endless time to practice and try different things so it really helped my skills for when I got back to work. If you're in this position, it's a great time to build a baby blog or teach yourself some web skills.

Let me add that I had to plug my laptop into the hospital phone line at this time, and it was excruciatingly slow so seeing changes to the site was not a fast process. I also did a lot of research on the drugs I was being given in the hospital. There's a lot they don't tell you! You can spend hours researching what's happening now or the best diaper services.

I wasn't able to do much exercise. I wasn't allowed to walk around or put any stress on my abdominals. I could do some arm exercises but really not much. I wish I could have exercised more because I was in pretty good shape when I went into the hospital. I remember the first visit to the mall after I got out. I was winded after walking just a quarter of the length of the mall. If I were able to stay fit, I would have.

One of the best things about my bed rest was that it put me in the mindset that I was actually going to have a baby. I knew it was happening but it hadn't really hit me. I did read some parenting magazines and books while on bed rest to prepare but I can't say it really helped me. It mainly kept my mind occupied.

I did some shopping online for baby stuff too. I went into the hospital very unexpectedly so there was a lot that wasn't done. I didn't even get to work on the baby's room but I did pick out the wallpaper border and colors online. We got the crib and furniture after my daughter was born.

I made friends with several nurses who would have the same shifts 3x per week. We got to know each other quite well. The nurses would hang out in my room for 20-30 minutes at a time and chat about all sorts of things.

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