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Bed rest during
pregnancy:
Get the facts
Bed rest during pregnancy is sometimes prescribed to help prevent
complications. Here’s what you need to know about bed rest, from side
effects to making the best of it.
By Mayo Clinic staff
When you’re pregnant, a prescription to
stay in bed for days or weeks might seem
like a welcome break. You can relax while
someone else handles the chores. In reality,
however, bed rest during pregnancy can
pose challenges. You might not be able
to go to work, shop for groceries or meet
friends for a movie. If you’re on complete
bed rest during pregnancy, you might not
even be able to shower or eat sitting up.
Bed rest isn’t a proven remedy for
preventing pregnancy complications or
preterm birth. Still, bed rest is sometimes
prescribed as a safeguard. Understand the
complications that might make bed rest
during pregnancy necessary and how to
cope.
When bed rest during
pregnancy might be
recommended
Bed rest during pregnancy increases
blood flow to the placenta and can slightly
increase a baby’s birth weight. Your health
care provider might recommend a period
of bed rest at any point during pregnancy
if you have:
• High blood pressure
• Vaginal bleeding or problems with the
placenta
• An incompetent cervix - a condition in
which the cervix is likely to open (dilate)
prematurely
• Contractions or other signs or symptoms
of preterm labor
• A twin or multiple pregnancy
• Signs, symptoms or test results
indicating growth problems with the
baby
What bed rest means
In some cases, bed rest during pregnancy
simply means decreasing your activity
level for a period of time. You might be
free to move about the house, as long as
you avoid lifting children and doing heavy
housework. Depending on the demands
of your job, you might even be able to
continue working.
In other cases, bed rest guidelines are
stricter. You might need to remain in a
sitting or reclining position most of the
time, only getting up to use the toilet or
shower. You might not be allowed to work
or do even light household chores until the
baby is born.
If your health care provider prescribes
total bed rest during pregnancy, you might
need to lie on your side at all times -
including when you eat. Personal hygiene
might be limited to sponge baths and a
bedpan. This type of bed rest might require
hospitalization.
Understand bed rest side
effects
When you’re on bed rest during pregnancy,
joint pain and muscle aches are likely. Bed
rest also can increase the risk of blood
clots, especially in the veins in your legs.
Decreased bone mass might be a concern
as well.
Emotionally, you might feel confined or
isolated. Mood changes, guilt, anxiety
and depression are common — and your
partner might feel the same. Child care is
often a source of stress, and your children
might feel frightened or confused. If you’re
not able to work, finances can become a
concern as well.
After delivery, the effects of muscular and
cardiovascular deconditioning can linger
- slowing your ability to get back to your
usual activities.
Know the rules
If your health care provider recommends