As a pregnant woman, it's difficult not to instantly feel excited the first time you hear the words "bed rest." I mean, at a glance the idea of lying around all day seems luxurious, even relaxing, and surely the epitome of every pregnant woman's dreams. The reality, however, is extremely different. In fact there are things I wish I knew about bedrest before I actually experienced it, because I wasn't prepared. At all.
I had no idea what I was in for when my doctor ordered me to stay in bed for the health and wellbeing of not only myself, but my still-forming fetus. Due to pregnancy-induced hypertension, I couldn't be on my feet for longer than a few minutes. My doctor hoped that ordering me to stay in bed would lower my blood pressure and, as a result, help me avoid preeclampsia and induction. And, yes, staying in bed did help a tad, but the moment I had to get up to, say, go to the bathroom, my blood pleasure skyrocketed and I was back at square one.
In the end, I was induced so that my daughter could be born safely. That wasn't the end of my bed rest story, though. Years later, when I was pregnant with my son, my doctors discovered that not only did I suffer from hypertension, but I was leaking amniotic fluid. My second experience with doctor-ordered bed rest was short-lived, though, and I was induced as soon as it was safe. So I know a thing or two about bed rest now, but back then I was clueless. If only I had known the following:
It's Not A Vacation
When my doctor told me I was going to be on bed rest for two weeks, to see if my symptoms improved, I practically threw myself a party. I mean, who doesn't want two weeks of staying in bed, watching Netflix, and having food delivered to them?
That excitement dwindled after a couple days, though. I mean, talk about boring! And uncomfortable! And did I mention boring? I wish I'd known how mundane and isolating staying in bed would be.
You'll Run Out Of Things To Do
At first you think, "Perfect! Now I finally have to time to finish that one book or catch up on that one show or write that one great American novel I've always wanted to write." But the reality is that while you do have time to play catch up, it all gets real old really fast. There are only so many ways you can knit a pot holder.
You'll Actually Fantasize About Cleaning
At some point, no matter how short your bed rest may be, you'll long for the days when you could carelessly vacuum or scrub a toilet or wash a set of dishes. And since you're probably the person who kept things in order anyway, watching the mess accumulate around you will drive you out of your mind.
You'll Be Lonely
People mean well and they say they'll visit, especially since your schedule is wide open. You figure you'll catch up, trade stories, and maybe even start watching a new television series together. But here's the thing: not everyone is on bed rest. The world spins madly on, and the people who support you and want to be there for you still have jobs and their own kids and their romantic relationships to foster and care for and consider.
I grew terribly lonely terribly fast when I was on bed rest, to the point I was having full-on conversations with myself.
It's Not Selfish To Ask For Help
I'm a stubborn gal, so I don't typically ask for or accept help. But when I was on bed rest, it didn't take long for me to realize that help was a damn necessity. And since people are so busy, you aren't going to hear people offer you help all the time. Take it when you can get it, and don't worry about what other people may or may not think. You're the one growing a human being inside your body.
It's Only Temporary
The strange thing about bed rest is that it redefines your definition of time. Seriously, it's like there's a crack in the space-time continuum and seconds, minutes, hours, days, all cease to matter. The days start bleeding into one another, and you start to feel like your pregnancy will last forever.
It won't. One day, you won't be pregnant, and you won't have to be on bed rest anymore.
It Might Not Fix Everything
Bed rest isn't a cure-all. Is it extremely helpful and important and should pregnant people follow the rules when their doctors put them on bed rest? Yes, absolutely. Listen to your doctors!
But there are risks associated with bed rest, too. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women on bed rest are at risk for deep vein thrombosis, also known as a blood clot formed in a vein. That's why it's important to follow your doctor's orders, including what little movement and/or exercise you're permitted. After all, just because you're on bed rest doesn't mean your work is done.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.