I started developing edema pretty early on in my pregnancy. I was pregnant during a tough summer — 110-degree days that even the best air conditioner couldn’t go up against. Around 30 weeks, I started showing signs of preeclampsia but didn’t have any positive urine tests to confirm it, so my OBGYN chose to take caution and keep me indoors from the heat. Luckily, I wasn’t confined to the bed, but I was strongly encouraged to keep my feet up to help the horrific swelling. I had to stop working around 32 weeks when the heat became unbearable. I remained in the house and stopped driving because my swelling stiffened me and the flexibility in my ankles was just terrible. My husband took me everywhere — all my doctor visits and even to my brow-waxing appointments. Even though my doctor helped us take all precautions to keeping me and baby safe, I had double vision and had trouble with my fine motor skills in my hands one morning at 37 weeks. I showed protein in my urine (preeclampsia) and once admitted, I had PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension). I’ll talk about being induced in a later post, but for now, I want to share some of my experience with bed rest during pregnancy.
Bed rest — even limited bed rest — is a dreadful thing. At first it sounds exciting; lie in bed all day, no agenda, no schedule. The first few days are a dream. You catch up on DVR that you forgot you recorded and have your meals brought to you. What’s not to like? Everything! The first two honeymoon days pass quickly and before you know it, you’re left with bad TV and a good chance of annoying your spouse with periodic phone calls with a two-minute time lapse. Here are a few tips for getting through this frustrating time to help keep your stress level low and your anger at people going about their daily lives at bay.
9 Tips for Surviving Bed Rest During Pregnancy
1. Save the DVR for when you’re alone. Don’t waste precious bonding time on the cable company. Interact when your spouse is home. You have all day to watch TV. A little human contact is good for the soul.
2. Catch up on that reading list. Not only is reading relaxing, but it engages the mind and exercises your brain. Choose books that are fun and exciting, nothing sad; after all your hormones are at a super high level right now.
3. Bed side exercise. You heard right — move! You may be confined to that bed, but your arms work and your Kegels need some attention too! Have some 1- or 2-pound weights on your nightstand and do a few moves. Something as simple as holding the weights in front of you and pulsing a few times then repeating at your sides (think airplane) is sure to pass the boredom. (Of course, seek your doc’s approval before engaging in ANY activity during pregnancy, especially bed rest!)
4. Write a letter to your baby. Tell him/her about you. What were you like as a child? What are you feeling in this moment? Are you scared, excited, anxious? Put it on paper. Save it and give it to them during a big milestone or their 18th birthday. Time capsule letters are irreplaceable.
5. Play in nail polish. Try out the latest color fads. Although the smell might be nauseating, the colors are sure to perk up your mood!
6. Make a list of things you are grateful for. It sounds silly but positive reinforcement to yourself is key to keep from overthinking things and feeling negative. Each day add one item. When you’re in a funk, pull it out and remind yourself that this isn’t as bad as it seems (even though it really does feel as bad as it seems!).
7. Make your list and check it twice. We all feel better when we’re well planned. So go ahead, make a to-do list. You have plenty of time to check it. Write your call list for when baby arrives. Make a list of what needs to go to the hospital; you can even make a packing list for your overnight bag! (Please tell me I’m not the only anal retentive one!).
8. Pick up a new hobby. Learn to knit. YouTube has everything; you could probably learn to build a house in a 2-minute clip. I’m sure there’s a video or two on how to knit a hat for your little one.
9. Finalize names. If you haven’t nailed down your baby’s name, this downtime presents the perfect opportunity to page through the baby name book page by page.
10. Relax and enjoy. That’s why they call it bed REST. Do just that, rest.
11. Realize that this too shall pass. It is temporary, even though that should be enough to feel grateful, it’s tough. Accept that you are doing what’s in the best interest of baby’s health and your own. Enjoy having your feet up; once that little one arrives, you’ll never see a foot stool again!
Have you experienced bed rest during pregnancy? How did you survive? —Jennifer