By Natalie, Editress of Visionary Womanhood
Pregnant and on Bed Rest
If you are currently on bed rest or have been on bed rest in the past, you know first hand how incredibly difficult it can be. You know how the hours drag by. You know the emotional roller coaster of having oodles of time to lay around and worry about the life of your baby as well as the level of sanity you’re trying to maintain while waiting to find out the ultimate outcome of your pregnancy.
Sometimes the bed rest is simply a precaution toward the end of a healthy pregnancy, and it can feel unnecessary, irritating, and inconvenient.
On the other hand, sometimes bed rest is prescribed because either your life or the life of your child hangs in the balance, and the best way to deal with the situation is if you stay in a horizontal position for what seems like the rest of your life. Often this kind of bed rest comes in the middle of the pregnancy when there can be 3-4 months left before the baby is full term. The anxiety and boredom can be a deep emotional burden, sapping you of hope and joy.
My Bed Rest Experience
I’ve spent almost two years of my life on bed rest. Twenty years ago I lost our first baby at 21 weeks gestation due to an incompetent cervix. The problem was discovered at 19 weeks when I began spotting one morning. My cervix was dilated to a three, and the bag of waters was bulging into the birth canal.
After an emergency cerclage (stitch around the cervix to keep it shut), I was in bed for two weeks. My body went into labor at 21 weeks, and it couldn’t be stopped. Our daughter was born alive and healthy, but too small to survive.
With our second baby, I began spotting and cramping at six weeks. Because the baby was alive and seemed to be thriving, the Dr. put me on bed rest to prevent a loss. He said I had an “irritable uterus.” I was on bed rest until I was 29 weeks, and then our son was born prematurely. He’ll be 20 years old at the end of this year.
Bed rest began around 12 weeks with our third baby. I was on subcutaneous medication to prevent pre-term labor, and this, along with a cerclage and six months of bed rest, got me my first full term baby.
My fourth pregnancy put me on bed rest between 12-37 weeks, and my fifth pregnancy put me in bed from weeks 20 to 37. I’ve had five children since then with zero bed rest, so while I had fears of being on bed rest with every pregnancy, they did not prove to be realized. I’m glad I didn’t let those fears keep me from having those last five children! They are all treasures and would have been worth the bed rest anyway.
Bed Rest Survival Tip One: Work at Proper Perspective
When you are in the middle of an extremely stressful, yet boring experience like bed rest, you need some serious perspective!
1. It’s not forever. Give yourself a “Truth Talk” each morning saying “Self, I have another long day ahead of me, it’s true. But I will not be in this position forever. I will be thankful that this is temporary and that God will give me grace to make it through this one day. I know there is a reason God has allowed this to happen to me, though I don’t understand it all right now. I refuse to take on tomorrow’s fears and boredom, but only tackle this day by the power and grace of God.”
2. Only take on one day at a time. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34)
3. Remind yourself that you are fighting for a treasure. Think of your freedom as being a big, colorful, plastic bead. You know, the kind little girls love? Your baby is a beautiful diamond of inestimable, eternal value. You GET to trade that plastic bead for that valuable diamond! Is that a sacrifice? Only a child without perspective and understanding of the reality of the situation would think that kind of trade wasn’t worth it.
Bed Rest Survival Tip Two: Create Daily Goals
You can accomplish a lot in bed—did you know that? In fact, being forced to stay in bed gives you the golden opportunity to do things that you would probably NEVER do otherwise. I learned how to cross stitch and made an heirloom pillow for each of my babies. To help process my grief over the loss of our first daughter, I also cross stitched a wall hanging in her memory.
I accomplished this by making small, daily goals of cross stitching 4-5 thread lengths each day. It was something TO DO, and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. By the time each pregnancy was over, the pillow was finished.
We didn’t have the Internet WAAAAYYYY back when I was on bed rest, so I had a pile of books that I wanted to read but didn’t have the time for when I was up and about. I made it my goal to finish a new book each week and planned out how many chapters I’d read each day to meet my goal.
I learned some new culinary skills by watching a couple of good cooking shows on TV.
With the Internet, you can learn all kinds of new skills with all that extra time. Explore web design, photography, knitting, cooking—or take an online class. If you’ve always wanted to start a blog, but never had the time—maybe this is your opportunity! If you already have a blog and love to write—work on an eBook!
(Those of you who are not on bed rest wish you were now, don’t you?)
Bed Rest Survival Tip Three: Connect With People
- Make it a goal to visit an encouraging person on the phone or via Skype once a day.
- Make a Facebook group of girlfriends who have been on bed rest who can “talk” with you each day and cheer you up. Use your Facebook networks to find other gals who have been on bed rest in the past or even are currently on bed rest who might want to join the group.
- There are bed rest forums online that you can join and connect with other women in the same boat, er, bed, that you’re in.
Bed Rest Survival Tip Four: Fill Your Mind with Good Things
Bed Rest Survival Tip Five: Celebrate Markers
At the end of each day enjoy a little reward. It could be anything from a special hot tea you love—to a little mint on your pillow—to a quart of ice cream.
At the end of each week have your husband get you a burrito from Taco Bell. (That’s what I did.) Or whatever. But celebrate the fact that you are one week closer to your treasure!
At the end of the month, have a Take Out dinner. This was a real splurge for us, but that made it all the more exciting. It was a happy treat, and accomplishing a month of bed rest is definitely something to celebrate.
But What if I’ve Already Got Children to Take Care of?
And that’s why this post is PART ONE! In Part Two I address how to “do” kids while you’re gestating a new one.