Skip to main content

 

Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

Skip section navigation

Bedrest

If you have a health complication or high-risk pregnancy, you may be put on bedrest.

Important: Preterm labor

Call your health care provider right away if you have signs of preterm labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy:

  • change or increase in vaginal discharge
  • bleeding from your vagina
  • slow leak, steady trickle, or sudden gush of amniotic fluid from your vagina
  • a regular pattern of six or more uterine contractions in one hour
  • menstrual-like cramps for more than one hour
  • increased pelvic pressure for more than one hour
  • intestinal cramping, with or without diarrhea or indigestion, for more than one hour
  • throbbing in the vagina, cramps in the thighs, or a feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • a feeling that things are not right.

This can mean:

  • working less and spending at least half of each day with your feet up
  • being in bed, lying down or sitting up
  • lying in bed or on the sofa, getting up only to go to the bathroom.

Ask your health care provider to be specific about the kind of bedrest you need and what you can and cannot do.

Common reasons for bedrest

Common reasons for bedrest include:

  • preterm labor
  • your baby is not growing fast enough (intrauterine growth restriction)
  • high blood pressure (that started either before or during pregnancy) or preeclampsia (high blood pressure, protein in your urine, and swelling)
  • carrying more than one baby (multiple gestation)
  • your cervix opens painlessly too early in pregnancy (also known as incompetent cervix).

Bedrest will not cure any of these conditions. However, it can help manage them.

Bedrest brings major changes to your household. You will have to rely on your husband, partner, family members, or friends to help you with shopping, meals, laundry, and getting ready for your baby.

You may feel fine, making it hard to stay in bed. This is especially true if you feel pressure to return to work or keep up with your workload.

It may help to think about bedrest as being one way to parent your baby right now. Each member of your family can take on new tasks to help your baby.

Allina Health Home Health - Mother & Newborn

If you are on bedrest and/or your pregnancy is considered high risk, your health care provider may want you to have home visits by an OB nurse.

The nurse will visit you in your home, monitor you and your baby as needed, and support you and your family during this time. Talk with your health care provider to see if home visits are right for you.

red arrow indicating a more linkAllina Health Home Health - Mother & Newborn

Ways to cope while on bedrest

Tips to help you cope with being on bedrest:

  • Get dressed each day rather than staying in night clothes.
  • Keep toiletries, a brush, hair ties, and makeup near your bed. Using them will make you feel better.
  • Do relaxation and gentle stretching exercises.
  • Ask your health care provider about exercises to help maintain your muscle tone.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Do whatever household tasks you can from your bed like paying bills and folding laundry.
  • Make lists of what needs to be done and ask friends and family members to take on these tasks.
  • Borrow books from the library.
  • Write letters, do crossword and Sudoku puzzles, start a needlework or quilting project.
  • If your health care provider agrees, you may be able to play with your child(ren) in bed or even conduct work meetings via phone or computer in your bedroom.
  • Do work, if you can, on a lap desk or computer.
  • Ask your friends to pay regular visits and let them run errands for you.
  • Talk to other moms on bedrest over the phone or on the Internet using a laptop computer.
  • Bedrest often means no sexual intercourse or orgasm. Hug, snuggle, watch movies together, and search for ways to feel and be close.

For bedrest support, call Sidelines National Support Network at 1-888-447-4754 or visit sidelines.org.


 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 08/22/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts