Bed Rest | The Facts, The Fiction, and How to Help

I don’t claim to be overly experienced at many things, but when it comes to bed rest, I can confidently say that I feel experienced. Five and a half years ago I was pregnant with my twins when the word bed rest became a reality. The first twenty weeks of my pregnancy were a breeze. Sure, I was a little tired and didn’t have as much energy at times, but I didn’t get sick and felt pretty good most of the time. I worked, exercised, and we traveled. Our 20-week ultrasound completely changed the course of my “easy” pregnancy.  

My girls were diagnosed with Twin- to- Twin Transfusion Syndrome and we were sent the following day to Cincinnati, Ohio to have a surgery done on my placenta to save our girls. After this surgery, I went into preterm labor, which they were able to eventually control, but I was then sent home on bed rest… at 20 weeks!! While I was very worried about my unborn babies and their health and would have done anything to save their lives, bed rest was staring me in the face. They wanted me to stay pregnant until 37 weeks when they would then induce me. At the time, 17 weeks (FOUR MONTHS people) seemed like an eternity to be on bed rest. Can you imagine how you would feel if you knew that you had to be on bed rest from now through April?! That’s how I was feeling. Overwhelmed. Defeated. Depressed. Scared.

What exactly is bed rest?  You, yourself or someone you know may have had to be put on bed rest for a variety of reasons and complications. Bed rest can vary depending on the severity of the condition. My bed rest initially was pretty strict. They wanted me to stay pregnant, so I was only allowed to move from my bed to the couch in the living room and to the bathroom when I needed to go. Some bed rest is a little more flexible and other times it’s much more strict. At 28 weeks into my pregnancy, after eight weeks of bed rest, my water broke and I was hospitalized. Everyone thought I would go into labor, but I didn’t (which was a good thing!) and I was able to stay pregnant for almost four more weeks. That meant though, that I needed to be hospitalized. I spent four very long weeks on bed rest, but in the hospital. I was only allowed to get up to use the bathroom and after the first week there, was allowed a five minute wheelchair ride per day.  

I see so many people post and ask how they can help their sister, friend, etc. who is on bed rest. The goal of this post is to help you understand what bed rest is, what it isn’t and how you can help someone going through it.  

What bed rest isn’t:

  • Relaxing. Please don’t think that moms on bed rest are lucky because they get to relax and check out from all of their normal duties. I cried and mourned my loss of freedom on the first day at home on bed rest. I wanted more than anything to go to work, cook, walk my dog, and have a normal life. I spent the majority of my time worried about the health of my babies and I felt very alone. I almost never felt “relaxed”.
  • Fun. During my four week hospital stay, I became somewhat depressed. While I knew I was doing the best thing for my girls, it sure was hard. I know a lot of moms who had other children while they were on bed rest. They missed birthday parties and playdates with their kids.
  • Easy. “You can just sit there and do whatever you want.” I heard that and no, I actually couldn’t. Sure, I could watch all of the TV  I wanted and read to my heart’s content, but when it’s your only option, you just don’t feel like doing either of those things. It was hard to get through most days.

What bed rest is:

  • A HUGE sacrifice. I sacrificed a lot but was able to give my girls more time. My husband worked through my pregnancy because he had just switched jobs and knew he would need time off when the girls were born, so I was home by myself most days, only able to get up to go to the bathroom.
  • An emotional rollercoaster. Some days were better than others, but a lot of days were really hard. I celebrated my 26th birthday in the hospital, and when I asked my doctor if I could go out for dinner, he said no. I cried, but everyone came to me… and we celebrated my birthday in the hospital.

                          My hospital birthday party

  • Humbling. I had to let other people do everything for me. People made my food, brought it to me, did my laundry, let my dog out, and so much more. My family and friends truly blessed me during that time.  

How you can support that lady in your life who is on bed rest:

  • Be there for her! I’m sure everyone’s needs are different, but just be there and listen to her. She’s going through a lot, and a listening ear is probably just what she needs.
  • Bring food. Bring a home cooked meal or maybe she’s in the mood for something special. My mom came down for a couple of days each week, and always stopped to get me popcorn chicken (ick, I know.. But I LOVED it when I was pregnant) and a decaf pumpkin spice latte. It was amazing.   
  • Offer to take her to an appointment. I had an appointment every single week to monitor the girls, and I wasn’t allowed to drive. When my mom wasn’t around and my husband was working, my friend took me.  
  • Help with her kids or pets. My friend would bring her dog over to play with mine. It was awesome!
  • Offer to do the laundry or clean. If you know she’s going to be stubborn about you doing it, you could hire a company to come in every other week.   
  • Bring something you can do with her. One friend taught me how to knit and brought all of the materials. Another brought stuff to make earrings. The best part was that they sat with me.
  • Bring over your favorite book.
  • Bring over a movie and popcorn or nail polish and paint your nails.  

These are just a few ideas, but my family and friends helped me so much during my three months on bed rest. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them.

Have you been on bed rest? How long? What did you appreciate or find helpful from others? What have you been able to do for a friend on bed rest?  

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