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bedrest survival tactics

Some moms have time to prepare for bedrest, as their OBs have a policy of placing all multiple moms on bedrest towards the end of the pregnancy. For others, bedrest may come as a complete shock:
I had a very easy pregnancy up through 23 weeks. I was walking several miles per week and taking low-impact aerobics classes up to week 22.5 but then started noticing more contractions. One night at 23 weeks I woke up from abdominal cramps--just like menstrual cramps. They were strong but I didn't think too much about it and decided to wait until morning to call the ob (it was about 3:00 am). I even went to work before I called the ob and he wanted to see me *RIGHT AWAY*. Little did I know as I locked my office door that I would not return for another 6 months!!

Whether you've had weeks to prepare for your involuntary vacation, or you found out in a moment of crisis, suddenly finding yourself faced with bedrest can be quite difficult to take. You may be faced with feelings of loneliness and isolation, boredom, difficulty with your new dependency, depression, and fear for the babies. If you already have children, you'll have the added anxiety of keeping them entertained, fed, and happy while keeping yourself in bed. The following suggestions, starting with general advice and leading to specific ideas for making the time pass, will give you some ideas for surviving the days and weeks that follow. They're taken from the bedrest stories, which you can read in their entirety for a more personal view of life on the sidelines.

  • Clarify with your doctor exactly what is permitted and what isn't. This is especially important if you've been assigned to modified bedrest or house arrest: make sure you know what the limits are.

  • Get in touch with Sidelines (, an organization supporting women in complicated pregnancies (and their families). They can match you with a volunteer who's been through a similar pregnancy, so you have someone you can talk to. Volunteers are available through phone (US and Canada) or via email (anywhere). Even if you don't feel the need for a volunteer, you can visit the bedrest chats (the schedule is available on their web site).

    Sidelines will not offer medical advice, but their support can go a long way to easing the isolation of bedrest.

  • Establish a routine. Having some sort of a schedule will help the hours go by faster. Shower/hygiene (as permitted by your doctor), read the paper, mid-morning nap, crossword, call a friend, lunch....

    You may find that getting dressed, even if it just means changing into sweats and a T-shirt, will give you an emotional lift.

  • Be prepared to ask for-- and accept-- help. One of the most difficult aspects of being on bedrest is the sudden lack of independence. But keep in mind that if a friend is offering to help, it's because they know you'd do the same for them! You might want to come up with a list of odd jobs which you would feel comfortable asking someone to help with. Then if someone offers, let them take their pick.
    Schedule friends/family members to spend the afternoon visiting you, doing your laundry and making your dinner. (Sounds selfish, but my friends were glad to be doing something really helpful for me. I reciprocated once the shock of parenting twins wore off!)

  • Use the Resources section in this FAQ to find other bedrest sites, online shopping, and fun activities. Please feel free to contact me if you find a site you think should be included.

    You can also make use of this time to read the other FAQs on the Twins List site. They'll give you an idea of what to expect, preparing for nursing, what equipment you might need, and more....

  • Treat yourself! Buy new sheets from or another online company. Pyjamas, too, while you're at it! Schedule a facial or a massage:
    My husband was so kind as to call a masseuse to come to our home and give me a massage a few times during the bedrest. It was heaven!! If anyone asks what they can do for you (and the dishes and laundry are already done), mention a massage!

  • Read. You may not feel up to any great literature (though I must admit, I read War and Peace), but you can make use of this time before the babies come to read child-care and twin books. You may also want to track down When Pregnancy Isn't Perfect, by Laurie A. Rich. If your local library doesn't have a book-mobile, enlist a friend to make your library runs.

    If you're on Terbutaline or other tocolytics, you may find that you're too jittery to concentrate on books. Try Books on Tape. has a huge selection that you can order online and have delivered to your door.

  • Do needlework or other crafts. You'll have something to show for your time of enforced inactivity (besides healthy babies!) If you don't do any crafts, see if you can find someone to come in and teach you. Try the local Senior Center-- you may find someone who's as happy to come in and keep you company as you are to see a friendly face.

  • Finish some of those unfinished tasks.
    My husband gathered up our *boxes* of old photos and I put them in order by year and began putting them into albums--unfortunately I made it up to 1991, the girls were born in 1992, and I haven't had time to put another photo in an album since bedrest!!)
    Some other suggestions:
    • Fill out birth announcements (leave names, dates, etc. blank), including addressing envelopes.
    • Fill out and address all birthday and other greeting cards for upcoming events.
    • Use mail-order catalogs to purchase baby supplies and birthday/holiday gifts for friends/family.
    • Update your address book.
    • Have someone bring you the file cabinet/junk drawer/whatever! so you can sift through and organize it.
    • Start your twins' baby books [and update your other children's].
    • Keep a pregnancy journal.

  • Do research.
    I tried to become as informed as possible and asked *lots* of questions of my ob all the time. You may want to discuss prematurity and gather as much info as possible, just in case, to be prepared when you might suddenly be thrust into making decisions about your child/ren while in an emotional-physical-non-coherent situation. I tried to prepare myself but I'll be the 1st to admit that there was a point at which I was getting stressed-out and depressed more than getting informed. There's a fine line....

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