Ask Jessi: Bed Rest is Driving Me Crazy

July 23rd, 2010by Jessi Arias-Cooper

A Reader Asks:

I’m 32 weeks along, and I’ve been diagnosed with preeclampsia [pregnancy induced hypertension], and my doctor put me on bed rest. I’ve been lying in bed for 4 days and I’m starting to go crazy. I don’t think I can handle another 8 weeks like this. Is there anything I can do?

Jessi Says:

I’m sorry, mama. I know it stinks, because I’ve been there. My initial reaction to the good doctor’s prescription was “Woo hoo…vacation!” By the end of day two, it was abundantly clear, hanging out in bed for the duration of my pregnancy was in no way comparable to a trip to Hawaii.

The good news is, there’s plenty to do if you’re creative. Before I get to that, I’m going to stress the importance of following your doctor’s orders. No matter how tempting it is to sit in the nursery and “just” do this or that, plant your fanny. Your OB wants the best health for your baby and you. Don’t flirt with disaster and try to get away with some well-intentioned shenanigans. It’s not worth it. The consequences can be deadly.

Now, as far as bed rest survival is concerned, my first suggestion is to give your doctor’s office a call and get some clarification as to the rules of the game. My doctor was very specific with the position I had to be in (lying on my left side), but I could get up for bathroom breaks and to move to the living room couch.

Ask your doctor if it’s alright to relocate to the sofa from time to time. Be honest with him if stairs are involved, too. Again, caution is your best friend when it comes to protecting your baby.¬†Once you have the guidelines of your bed rest situation, you can plan some activities to get you through the next several weeks.

These are some things I did to keep all my marbles where they should be:

Think about all of the organizing projects you’ve been putting off. Most women have a closet full of “I’ll get to it someday” things to do. I took the time to put pictures in frames and albums, update my address book, sift through old files and sort my craft supplies. I couldn’t carry things back and forth, so I told my husband what the plan for the day was and he brought everything to me.

Grab a laptop and shop online. While I was battling infertility, I fantasized about shopping trips with my mom and girlfriends, searching for the best deals on the cutest baby gear available. And of course, as luck would have it, I wound up a prisoner of my blood pressure, unable to waddle the aisles of every baby boutique my swollen feet could handle.

Instead, I started looking online, which was a pretty sweet deal in the end. I could pick items I liked, compare prices and send my ideas to friends and family who were “in the know” about such things. They in turn, they sent me links to items they recommended.

Make dates with your partner. Try to keep in mind, this is stressful for him, too. He’s actually probably freaking right out about now. He’s worried about you, scrambling to get things ready for Junior, and trying to focus on work, bills and every other responsibility that comes with that blissful gift called adulthood.

Plan date nights watching movies, listening to music, sipping sparkling grape juice by candlelight and just enjoying each other’s company. These are the last few weeks before the new head honcho joins the family. Make the most of them.

Ask your girlfriends over. Every time the chips are down, your gal pals say, “Please, let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” This is a great time to take them up on it. Plan beauty days and paint each other’s nails or start a book club. Having someone to hang out with is such a sweet relief. Don’t feel like you’re being a pest, you’d do the same if your roles were reversed.

Make important lists and arrangements. Write down who needs to be contacted when the big day arrives, items the hubby needs to pack for your hospital stay and any special instructions for a housesitter if you need one (include pet and plant care). Take care of any paperwork the hospital, insurance company or other important office may have for you.

There are lots of things you can do while you’re on bed rest. Get creative. The key is to stay busy without being active or stressing yourself out. If you need someone to talk to while your significant other is at work, find a forum for other pregnant moms, especially ones on bed rest.

You’ll make it through this difficult time. When the nurse lays that healthy little cuddlebug in your arms for the first time, you’ll know every moment was worthwhile. Don’t think of bed rest as a sentence, but the first loving act of a wonderful mother.

Jessi Arias-Cooper is the senior writer and an editor for She is a work-from-home mother of 3 boys and has been married for 10 years. If she had time for hobbies and interests outside of parenting and keeping house, they would be jewelry making, baking, watching bad B-movie horror flicks and creative writing . If you have a question for Jessi, click here.

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