Q&A: I feel like a lot of women are on bed rest and I wonder why.
Nearly all my pregnant friends are on bed rest—it seems like doctors are putting more and more women on bed rest these days. What's going on?
Bed rest can be recommended for many different reasons in pregnancy. Some of these reasons include:
- Twin or multiple pregnancy with preterm labor
- Preterm labor
- Placenta previa
- High blood pressure
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Incompetent cervix
- Intra-uterine growth retardation (baby growing slowly)
There are indeed different types of bed rest. Some high-risk pregnancies necessitate, for the health of you and your baby, that you be put on strict bed rest. In these cases, your doctor may ask you to be in the hospital on complete bed rest using only a bedpan. Other forms of bed rest allow for bathroom and showering privileges. Less restrictive bed rest can mean that you are home from work and mostly resting. In this example, getting up for meals and other light activities is acceptable.
What type of bed rest is best for you will be determined by your doctor and may vary from practice to practice. The moms most likely to be put on strict bed rest include those with preterm labor, placenta previa, or moderate to severe preeclampsia. A mom who is carrying multiples, without active preterm labor, may be asked to be on less restrictive bed rest. Your own doctor will make sure that you get the proper plan of care based on your particular health history and current situation.
While research is not conclusive related to the true effectiveness of bed rest, many doctors still find they feel most comfortable prescribing this approach. For women who are on long-term bed rest, there can be pros and some cons.
Bed rest cons:
- Decreased circulation, increasing your risk of blood clots
- Loss of muscle tone and weakness (talk to your doctor about what type of movement or light exercise may be reasonable in bed)
- Boredom and isolation (which may lead to depression)
Bed rest pros:
- You can rest assured knowing you and Baby will be safe while you lie low.
- Being forced to slow down may give you some time to finally read what you’ve been meaning to, stay in touch with friends and family, and catch up on some good movies!
- Being on bed rest can also help you feel even more in touch with your growing baby. Not working as much or being put on strict bed rest allows for much contemplation and reflection. You may feel more prepared to tackle those to-do lists and mentally prepare for the big day.
The number of multiple pregnancies and the age of women giving birth have continued to go up. Women with multiple pregnancies are at a higher risk for preterm labor. Older moms (over 35 is considered advanced maternal age) may be more prone to high blood pressure or other complications of pregnancy. Perhaps these trends have contributed to the increase in number of people you know who are on bed rest.