I am not one to give advice, but on the topic of bedrest, I may be considered an "expert." Are you currently on bedrest or have a loved one who is? I may be able to offer some helpful tips so you don't loose your sanity!
My bed rest hell
I was on bed rest for eleven weeks... with not one pregnancy, but two. At 25 weeks with each pregnancy I felt like a bowling ball was between my legs and was placed on strict bed rest for the duration of my term; to minimize further dilation. I remained on strict bed rest with both pregnancies until I delived at 36 weeks with each child. Hey, at least I was consistent!
When I was 25 weeks pregnant and heard the words "strict bed rest," I was first scared about the health of our baby. Secondly, I was committed to following the mid wife's orders for fear of landing in the hospital flat on my back. Lastly, I was secretly happy for the forced rest and relaxation.
My husband set up our bedroom like a hospital. He made sure there were new batteries in the remote control, the phone was fully charged and stocked up on magazines and books. He even made me breakfast and lunch every day and stored them in a bedside fridge and crock pot. Life was good. I slept when I wanted to sleep, thumbed through mindless magazines and painted my toenails several different colors a day.
The first few days were like a well needed vacation. Then week two came, and I knew I had a problem.
I was more then bored, I was apathetic, and resentful and well...looking back at it, depressed. It is not surprising that the rates of depression among women on bed rest and during their postpartum period is much higher. What a lousy start! This was not how pregnancy was suppose to be. I was alone, isolated and scared. I had been so sick for the first five months of my pregnancy, and now this. I was just starting to grow a bump and couldn't even show it off. The only time I was allowed to leave the house was for my weekly check ups. I began to look forward to these appointments like a child does a field trip. I was on full restriction and was only permitted out of bed to use the restroom and shower.
I don't remember much from this time period other then I must have been just miserable to be around. Bed rest was one of the darkest periods in my life. I don't think people really get how devastating it can be emotionally, physically and financially.
If you are on bed rest or know someone who is here are some tried and true tips that I learned the second time around...
Tips for survival
1. Move your bed into a central location of your home. This will make you feel like a part of the household. If you are stuck in your bedroom, you will be lonely and isolated...and feel like a sick person. This is suppose to be a fun time in your life, you can still celebrate with loved ones.
2. Ask for help. If your spouse is overwhelmed, ask for help from family and friends. This is especially important if you have other children in the home to care for. Many women on bed rest talk about their frustration around a lack of control. This will help you to be a productive member of your household. Make the phone calls, keep the calender of who is coming and what they are doing on each day. If you are a single parent to be, it is a must to ask for help. If you are on strict bed rest, you can't get up. You can't cheat to get up an make a meal or do a load of laundry. You must ask for help or you are putting you and your baby at risk.
3. Let go of the idea that everything has to be perfect. People will help you, they will be happy to pitch in. You would help if one of your friends or family members were in this situation, right? However, they will not perform these tasks in the same way as you. They will not cook the same, buy the same brand of groceries, clean the same or play the same games with your other children in the home. But...good is good enough. You will have time once you are able to get up to re-arrange your cabinets or re-fold your laundry if it is still bothering you.
4. Wear your cute maternity clothes. You waited weeks or months to show your cute bump, so don't let a little bed rest be the reason that you stay in your old stretched out sweat pants. When you are on bed rest it is hard to see the point of showering, let alone getting cute clothes on, or fixing your hair and make-up, but it will make you feel better. I promise!
5. Make time to be with your spouse. Just because you are on bed rest doesn't mean you are sick. Make a list of activities you can enjoy with your spouse during this temporary time. Think of cuddling up to watch a movie, playing a game, reading some baby names books...try to make the best of your situation. If you have other children in the home, this advice goes for them as well. Have planned activities by your bed that you can grab and play.
6. Explain the situation to your other children. Your other children, especially if they are young, will be unsure of this new situation. Mommy, who is usually their primary care taker, is now laying on her back. This can be scary and confusing, so tell them what is going on in words they can understand. Let them know that when the baby comes, you will be up and playful again. Often, young children will reject you. This is completely normal, although hurtful, this too shall pass.
7. Get a laptop. If you don't own a lap top, borrow or rent one. This will be your connection to the outside world. It is also a great way to keep in touch with people. If you are feeling really ambitious, start a blog about your pregnancy and bed rest journey. Other moms-to-be in the same situation will be so thankful, and it will serve as an emotional outlet for you as well. It is amazing how much you can do from your computer when you have to. This is also a way to take back some control of the household. Pay the bills on line, buy gifts for future holidays or research a home project.
8. Start a project. What better time to start a project or learn something new then when you are stuck in bed! Create or improve your itunes account, categorize your recipes, get your holiday cards ready (even if it is September), make on-line photo albums or scrapbook. You can also start a new hobby..learn to knit, speak another language. When the baby comes you won't have time for any of it!
9. This is a temporary situation. Keep telling yourself... no matter how miserable you are, that this is temporary. Whether your bed rest is 2 weeks or 40 weeks, it will not last forever. If you can change your perspective from "falling off the cliff" to "a bump in the road", it will seem much more manageable.
10. Keep plans for your baby shower. Don't cancel the celebration! Make plans to have the shower at your house with all of your friends and family surrounding your bed. Other woman do cancel the party, but make scheduled visits with each guests at separate times. You can look forward to each visit and receive a little treat each time. This approach also helps with the feeling of isolation.
11. Make a visual reminder. I created links and made them into a chain. Every night before going to bed I would take another link off and watch my bed rest days shrink. You can use a calender, check marks or any visual cue to show that you are getting closer to getting out of bed rest hell.
12. Talk to your doctor or midwife. If you are feeling hopeless, helpless or disinterested, these are signs of depression and you may need additional support.
Although I didn't know it at the time (or while I was on bed rest with my second child either) there is an organization right in my town that offers emotional and financial support to women on bed rest. You can check Better Bed Rest out at www.betterbedrest.org
Please reach out to me if you need further information or support on how to survive bed rest without loosing your mind!
My thoughts are with all the mamas who are flat on their backs (or sides) waiting to get out of bed rest hell!
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