While bed rest is sometimes recommended to keep your pregnancy safe, it comes with its own set of challenges. MH fills you in on what you can do to cope.
WORDS ANGEL DREWGUS
It is no doubt that bed rest is often accompanied with various challenges but it could also lead to some possible complications such as deep vein thrombosis, bed sores and boredom, explains Dr Tony Tan, specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and consultant, Raffles Women’s Centre. Pregnant women are generally at higher risk of developing blood clots in their legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is made worse by prolonged bed rest since restricted mobility is one of the triggering factors for DVT. Prolonged inactivity can also lead to demineralisation of bone and atrophy of the muscles required for standing and walking.
Psychologically, prolonged confinement to bed can lead to depression, anxiety and family stress, explains Dr Tan Eng Loy, consultant, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Singapore General Hospital. At the same time, prolonged bed rest may lead to financial worries especially if the pregnant women have to stop working.
Getting Through It
It may be necessary to discuss with your doctor and to obtain clear answers as to why bed rest is being ordered in the first place, advises Dr Tan Eng Loy. Your doctor should be willing to explain his or her reasoning. If bed rest is ordered, consider changing your position from side to side frequently to avoid discomfort and backache.
Keeping your circulation going with light exercises such as squeezing “stress balls”, turning your arms and feet in circles, tensing and relaxing your arm and leg muscles may help to prevent DVT. Keeping yourself occupied while resting in bed – think reading more about your pregnancy complication, planning for baby such as coming up with baby names and allowing your family and friends to help may relieve some of the anxiety and stress of prolonged bed rest.
Focus on the baby! We want baby to get as close to full term as possible, so every day is a plus! Don’t get too depressed about not being able to get out of the house and go about your day as usual. Organising the rest area to provide for lots of entertainment options will help! And remember, patience is key. Being well hydrated and periodically going to toilet will help avoid risks of deep vein thrombosis. In addition, bed rest does not mean total immobilisation. Wriggling toes and ankles and exercising the legs while lying down also prevent blood clot risks.
Bed rest is not fun at the best of times, nor is it an absolute cure for any high-risk problem. The emotional adjustment to bed rest may be very difficult, especially if you lead an active life or if you’re working fulltime at home. Becoming dependent when you are used to being independent is never easy, and you may find that the smaller things in life, like phone calls and the mail delivery, will become the highlights of your day.
Keeping busy is often difficult for the bed ridden mother-to-be. Listening to calm music is good for both you and your baby. Mental rest is as important as physical rest for the high-risk mother. You should have a relaxing environment with quiet diversional activities.
Most importantly, remember that you are in bed not because you are sick but because you are awaiting the birth of your child.