If growing a tiny human wasn’t challenging enough, you’ve been instructed to camp out in your bed for x amount of time (normally no less than a week) because of a high-risk condition. Let the Netflix binge begin! Okay, you’ve gone through all of your recommended series, now what? Maybe four days have passed and you’re starting to feel sore through your hips, your neck is achy, and you get cramps more often than you did before. Why? These are all symptoms related to deconditioning. A small price to pay for the safety of your little growing baby, but does it really have to be that uncomfortable? Believe it or not there is such a thing as physical therapy services for a person on bed rest during pregnancy. Physical Therapists are trained how to provide assessment and intervention to all levels of people, bed bound or beach bound. You do not have to be injured to need or benefit from PT. If you find yourself in a bed bound situation consider seeking out a PT that is trained in how to work with mamas that are on bed rest for a high-risk pregnancy. They can teach you VERY gentle movements that you can do with different body parts that will 1. not harm you or your baby 2. work out a lot of soreness 3. slow down the adverse effects for prolonged bed rest.
There is not a lot of evidence to support the use of bed rest during high-risk pregnancies, but until there is strong evidence one way or the other, I prefer to err on the side of caution (Goldbenberg et al., 1994). There is a lot of evidence that does suggest bed rest is correlated to adverse effects such a bone demineralization, risk of blood clots, insomnia, muscle atrophy, and more, but this is exactly why you want a PT by your bed side (Bigelow & Stone, 2011). Regardless, before you get a PT you should discuss it with your OB or midwife so that everyone is on the same page.
Okay, so aside from PT what are some things that you can do to make your bonding experience with your mattress a little less monotonous? First off, build yourself a “nest”. Using a table side tray will allow you to keep frequently used items close to your body so you avoid repetitive reaching and twisting. Your bump doubles great as a prop for eating cereal and reading books, but do avoid using it as a laptop tray. Use the table side tray or a proper laptop tray to avoid unnecessary heat to your abdomen. If you are experiencing achiness, sore muscles, and a partner that isn’t proficient at massage, using a massage tool with a handle is good option. Make sure it has a handle and/or you get help for the places you need to reach that might cause you to strain. In regards to mental health, idleness is a breeding ground for depression, anxiety, and fear. Do not let yourself solely get lost in cinema or novels, but try challenging your brain during this time. You may not be able to do a lot to strengthen your body, but you can strengthen your mind. Try games that work on improving the neuroplasticity of your brain like luminosity or elevate. Try learning a new language with a free app like DuoLingo or if you’re wanting to invest a little Rosetta Stone has a really convenient and easy to use app. Depending on your faith, try mediating on the words of God. The Psalms are a great place to go for difficult times, happy time, tumultuous times, or contemplative times. If that’s not your jam try reading general proverbs from different cultures. They are full of wisdom and uniqueness. If you feel like you need a little more than any of the aforementioned and you feel yourself going to the dark and twisty place, check with your insurance plan to see if they offer telehealth services for counseling.
Bed rest is a change of pace for most people and takes some getting used to. There are different levels for different conditions, but regardless the main this to keep in mind is that it is temporary. Some people may actually welcome the uninterrupted “rest”. Remember, this is a time where you SHOULD use all the help you can get and don’t be shy about taking people up on their offers to help with chores, grocery shopping, babysitting, etc. Your wedding day, after birth, and bed rest are times when you should feel like a queen and welcome the attention and the willingness of others. It doesn’t happen often so take advantage.