Things You Should Know About Bed Rest During Pregnancy

If you've been instructed that you need bed rest during your pregnancy, you may be wondering not only why it could happen, but what you can do while you're resting. Bed rest instructions come in many forms, including minor situations like reducing your activity levels or more severe interventions such as staying in bed all day. Here's a look at what you should know if you're facing bed rest for your pregnancy, no matter how brief it may be.

Common Reasons for Bed Rest

There are many medical conditions and complications that can lead to a bed rest recommendation. Here are a few things to watch for.

Incompetent Cervix – Also referred to as a weak cervix, an incompetent cervix is one that's started to dilate before your pregnancy reaches full term gestation. This can increase your risk of miscarriage as well as your risk of preterm delivery. Bed rest is used in this case to reduce the weight on your cervix, which can ease the strain.

Hypertension – High blood pressure during pregnancy can be a serious cause for concern. Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure without the presence of protein in your urine, while preeclampsia is a high blood pressure condition that includes protein in your urine. In either case, elevated blood pressure can increase your risk of preterm labor, placental abruption and other concerns. While not usually met with complete bed rest restrictions, this usually comes with modified bed rest that encourages you to reduce your activity.

Intrauterine Growth Restriction – This condition is marked by a baby that is abnormally small for the gestational age. It can be caused by many things, from maternal health conditions to genetic defects or reduced blood flow. If your midwife or obstetrician believes that the condition is caused by poor circulation, bed rest may be recommended to help improve your blood flow.

Placental Complications – If the placenta doesn't form correctly or is improperly positioned, your prenatal care provider will recommend that you stay on highly restricted bed rest. This is important, because activity levels combined with placental complications can actually deprive your baby of necessary nutrients and oxygen.

Premature Labor – If you have a history of premature birth or you're carrying multiples, you may be advised to adhere to a fairly strict bed rest schedule during the later stages of your pregnancy. This is in an effort to prolong your pregnancy until your baby reaches a safe gestational age for delivery.

What Can You Do When On Bed Rest?

If you've been placed on bed rest, your doctor may suggest that you maintain a consistent workout routine to maintain your muscle tone. The workout that is typically recommended is a bed rest workout plan. This workout consists of Kegel exercises, chest and shoulder stretches and deep breathing. Sometimes, you may be instructed to do pelvic tilts and leg lifts as well. Remember that your doctor will tell you which exercises you should do. Trying to do any activities that haven't been approved by your midwife or obstetrician may be unsafe for you and your baby.

Your doctor can also provide you with recommendations for the proper position to stay in while you're on bed rest. You may be advised to elevate your feet or to prop yourself up on pillows. Make sure that you clearly understand what your doctor is expecting of you throughout your bed rest, including how much activity is allowed, what position you should stay in and how long you can expect the bed rest to last.

The more you understand about bed rest during pregnancy, the better prepared you'll be for the process if it's required. For more information, visit sites like