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goings on in the world of pregnancy and the time thereafter

10 Questions About Bed Rest

One in four pregnant women are placed on bed rest annually.  That is approximately 700,000 women.  Its a measure that doctors prescribe when they feel that the baby and/or mother is at risk for complications during the pregnancy.  It can be a sudden and sometimes devastating turn of events in an otherwise healthy pregnancy term.  For BellyButtonBoutique owner Karla Trotman, bed rest meant 2 weeks in the hospital on 24-hour monitoring where should could only leave the bed to use the restroom and to shower.  Some women must spend their entire pregnancy in bed.  Darline Turner-Lee is the founder of Moms On Bedrest & Beyond.  She took the time out of her busy schedule to give us an in depth look at the emotional and physical side of a pregnancy prescribed to bed rest.

1.  Why would a pregnant woman have to be on bed rest?

Pregnant women are prescribed Bedrest when they are at risk for going into preterm labor (defined as labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Common causes of preterm labor that would require a woman to be placed on bed rest include incompetent cervix (cervix dilating and shrinking in preparation for delivery before it’s time for delivery), placenta previa (placenta presenting first at the opening of the birth canal) Uncontrolled Gestational Diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension/pre-Eclampsia/Eclampsia, poor fetal growth, A multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc..), vaginal bleeding, premature rupture of membranes (early water breaking) history of pregnancy loss.

2.  Are there different types of bed rest?

The bed rest prescription varies depending on the situation. Sometimes a woman will be asked to stay close to home, not drive and not do any heavy lifting or strenuous activities, yet she can work on a computer and putter around her home. Some women will be on “house arrest” where they have to stay at home, either in bed or on the sofa, keeping their feet up and not doing any vigorous activity, getting up only to go to the bathroom and are only allowed to shower once daily. Then there is strict bed rest when a woman has to remain in bed and get up only to go to the bathroom (No Showering!), and very strict bed rest where she has to remain in bed on her left side and use a bedside commode.

3.  What are the emotional effects of bed rest on a woman?

Bed rest is very emotionally draining. Remember, a woman is placed on bed rest to protect both her health and the health of her baby. So many people chide a woman on bed rest with, “Girl, I wish I could lie around all day! Relax and enjoy it! Take advantage!”

Bed Rest View

But it’s pretty hard to relax when you know that you may be losing your baby. So many women on bed rest have had a difficult time getting pregnant and have often lost other pregnancies. In another example, a woman with very high blood pressure that is being refractory to treatment is often very worried that she may have a stroke or other life threatening complication where she could die or be very much impaired. There is a lot of anxiety and guilt because women often feel it’s their fault that the complications are happening. Often it’s no one’s fault, just something that happens. This is often not a fun time but one that is very stressful-the opposite of what is desired.

4.  What are some things that women on bed rest can do enhance their mood?

I always advise women on bed rest to stay cheerful. Listen to music, read good books, watch favorite movies. This is a great time to journal or to start a scrapbook for your little one. Gather lots of family info and photos and put it together for the baby.

Mostly, get as much interaction as possible. There are lots of great online forums women can join and chat with other women on bed rest. This seems to be one of the best ways women pass time, share hopes and fears and support one another.

5.  On your website you mention how exercise is very important while one is on bed rest.  Can you elaborate?

Pregnancy is a state of volume overload, meaning that there is more blood in a woman’s circulation and more fluid in her body. The added strain on the circulatory system puts pregnant women at risk for developing blood clots, mostly in the legs as they are the furthest from the heart. These clots can cause inflammation in the blood vessels where they develop and infection. If these blood clots dislodge (embolize) they can travel to the heart, lungs or brain and be fatal. These dangers are compounded in women on bed rest because not only do they have the additional fluid volume of pregnancy, they are immobile. (Ever notice that your feet swell on a long ride?? Same thing! Women on bed rest are at increased risk of developing blood clots in their legs and at increased risk of embolism that could result in a heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke.

While it seems crazy, women on bed rest must exercise. Since they cannot walk around, they have to move their limbs and contract their muscles to keep the blood circulating to avoid the aforementioned complications. Also, keeping their muscles active and toned will enable them to regain their physical function once they are able to be up and about.

6.  How can family members support loved ones on bed rest?

Take care of the household duties so that she is not worrying about them; help with children, pets, community obligations. Stop by and clean her house or bring a meal. Offer to run errands or to take her children out for a day of fun (remember, they have lost the mommy that they know as well!) Mostly, visit. Being at home alone on bed rest can be very isolating. We have all experienced times when left to our own devices we think up all kinds of crazy scenarios. Unfortunately, some of the scenarios a woman on bed rest may be imagining may not be too far fetched. Visit her, sit with her, listen to her, and don’t dismiss her worries and fears. If you don’t know what to say, just listen and acknowledge her feelings. Throw her a party or a shower. Anything that will lift her spirits and keep her calm is good.

7.  What are the top 3 items a woman should have by her side during this time?

I actually came up with 4 things:

  1. A telephone
  2. The TV Remote
  3. A laptop computer
  4. A cooler or small fridge with snacks and drinks.

8.  On your website you offer services to help moms on bed rest in the Austin, Texas area.  Have you thought about partnering or franchising in other cities?

I would love to have a Mama on Bedrest & Beyond in every major city in the country! We really don’t do enough to support women and families and when a woman is not able to fulfill her regular obligations, it really impacts the family. The mission of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is to support high risk pregnant women and their families during a very difficult time by maintaining as much “normalcy” as possible.

9.  Why did you start your business?

I had 2 high risk pregnancies and had no local support. I am originally from the Northeast and my husband is from the east as well. We are the only ones here in Texas. When I had problems with my pregnancies, both my mom and mother in law were trying to figure out how they could come and support me. With my first pregnancy, they were both still working and could not spare what could have been weeks away to care for me. Home health Agencies in the area cater only to the elderly or those with injuries or severe debilitation. When I called, I was told that pregnancy, even a high risk pregnancy, would not be covered. Luckily for me I did not end up on bed rest (my daughter was born early and I worked with my OB to avoid bed rest with my son because I had no local support), but I knew that I could not be the only person who lived far from family and had high risk pregnancies. So I decided to fill the gap.

10.  What is the one thing that readers should take away regarding bed rest?

Bed rest is anything but restful and is often very stressful. When a woman is placed on bed rest, she worries about her own health, the health of the baby and how she will meet her obligations. Anything that friends and family members can do to minimize her stress, to keep her spirits up and to keep her life on an even keel will be greatly appreciated.

Darline Turner-Lee is the founder of Mamas On Bedrest & Beyond, a subsidiary of Next Step Fitness, Inc*. She brings nearly 17 years of experience as a physician assistant, ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist and perinatal fitness instructor to the business along with extensive personal experience. Turner-Lee was pregnant every year between 2001 and 2006 with the exception of 2003. She has has 4 conceptions, 2 miscarriages, 2 high risk pregnancies and 2cesarean births.She has the unique perspective as a clinician and as a high risk and older mom (who gave birth at 37 and 40 respectively) which enables her to meet the unique needs-both physical and emotional-of high risk pregnant women. Turner-Lee’s vision for Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond is to change the way that clinicians, friends and loved ones care for high risk pregnant women.

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Bellybuttonboutique, complications, karla trotman, parenthood, pregnancy, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment