How To Survive Bed Rest During Pregnancy

How to beat the odds when baby takes you out of the game

Pregnant woman laying on couch
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You too can survive bedrest, but only if you think about it like a boss. When I was four months pregnant, I was diagnosed with a condition called Placenta Previa. Placenta Previa is when the placenta decides to attach to the bottom of the uterus instead of the top (the placenta being where babies get nutrients in utero). The only treatment for it is lots of ultrasounds to see if there is improvement and strict bedrest.

At the time I was diagnosed, I had a part-time job as an executive assistant for a small company near downtown. It wasn’t really in my field.

The Honeymoon Phase

At first, the idea of bed rest seemed pretty heavenly. I imagined lying on my couch with a lap top shopping for deals for my new baby on eBay, watching endless movies and catching up on all the reading I had wanted to do over the past few years but never found the time for. And, well, it was sort of like that. But as daydreams go, it wasn’t quite that simple. The first few weeks went pretty smoothly, though. I ordered several parenting books from the library but found it was easier to pass the time with so-called Chick Lit and David Sedaris essays that I had read several times before.

Reality (and Laundry) Hits

But as the saying goes, all good things come to an end and there went my love for being on bedrest. The laundry started to pile up and when hubby did do it, instead of putting it away once he took it out of the dryer he would dump it, unfolded, on the sectional couch next to my reading and television spot.

His passive-aggressiveness was not lost on me. Sometimes I would fold it, but sometimes I would just glare at the pile all day and when he came home instead of a sweet hello the first words out of my mouth were, “So, what are you going to do about all this laundry?” In some strange way, I was jealous of my husband's ability to go out and do stuff, yet mad that he couldn't do everything for me at home.

Ready for a Promotion Without a Dress Code

I was only supposed to get up to use the bathroom and to shower and as the months dragged on, I wondered as many women do (on bedrest or not) whether this pregnancy would last forever. I was ready for that big promotion from Mom-to-be to Mommy. I had bought all these cute maternity clothes but found it most comfortable to lay around in a tattered cotton nightie (in less kind circles also known as a muu muu) that once belonged to my grandma, seriously it was hers back in the 1970s. My big days out were my weekly OB/GYN appointments. On those days I would blow dry my hair, put on makeup and enjoy the ride (driving was off limits too) with my husband from Centerville to downtown looking at all the life outside my passenger side window on highway 48. What a life.

The Big 15

There was a short reprieve at seven months. It looked as if the placenta had migrated upwards a little. This was fantastic news and my status was changed from full-time bed rest to partial bedrest. I survived! This meant I could get up for about 15 minutes at a time and get out of the house occasionally, as long as I took it easy. I was thrilled to see the insides of movie theaters, restaurants, and even Target, once again.

Not long after, I gave birth. I've never appreciated the bed or rest more.

5 Tips to Stay Sane During Bed Rest

Eat at regular times - There's nothing worse than letting a show run long, and then be insanely hungry. Not only will be baby let you know how unacceptable this is, but you're having to shuffle around to get your meal won't help either.

Stay in touch - Use the time in bed to catch up with friends and family and let them know how you are. Sure you're pregnant and they're supposed to be calling you. But you're the one on bedrest. Get over yourself and make some phone calls. You'll feel better about your life if you do.

Ask for help - While you're on the phone with all those loved ones, let them know how they can help. People love giving assistance so don't miss the chance to take advantage. While you have the chance at being in one place all day, invite people over and give them a task to perform, like laundry.

Say what you want - If you end up with only one or two people to help, express how you are feeling and what your expectations are. It's no fun to suffer in silence. You might as well invite people to the pity party.

Rest - So yeah, this is the point of bed rest, so do it. Don't try to overstep your bounds. There is a baby that is coming to rock your world. Take it easy, literally.

At eight months I experienced preterm labor and we rushed to Miami Valley Hospital's emergency room to see what was going on. They strapped a belt around my enormous belly to monitor my contractions and my baby's heart rate. I knew it was my fault. I hadn't taken bedrest seriously enough. Was that 11 pm trip to Blockbuster worth having a premature baby? I thought about all the stress I had put my long-suffering husband through and even though I was regularly snapping at him how I was so sad in the mornings when he would leave me by myself in our apartment to face another day of bed rest alone.

While I lay there strapped up and freaking out a doctor I had never seen before came in to go over the results of the last hour of monitoring. Even though I was a high-risk patient with a team of doctors, none of them seemed to be on call that night. She looked at me and smiled and told me things were fine, I was just having some false labor. She told me to go home and take it easy for the next few weeks and that my baby would be here soon.

Take it easy? In purely the physical sense, I had done nothing but take it easy for the last four months. I told her I was on bedrest and going crazy with taking it easy. She looked at me and said, Oh dear, you just need to relax. I wish I were able to quit my life and be on bedrest for a few months.

My husband looked down and winced, he was sure I wouldn't let that one slip by. But by now I was too tired. It was late and all I wanted to do was go home. Wearily, I looked up at her as she removed the monitor from my belly and all I could come up with was, Yeah, this pregnancy has been a cakewalk. A busy ER doctor has no time for sarcasm so she gave me one last smile and moved on to her next case.

Penelope arrived three weeks later, by way of a cesarean section, perfectly healthy. My husband and I have made all kinds of sacrifices as parents. Putting both of our lives on hold for a few months so she had the best opportunity to grow was just our way of getting a head start.

Megan Kerns is the stay at home mother of 1-year-old Penelope Mae. She is originally from Kansas City, Mo., but currently lives in Dayton, Ohio, with her husband and their two cats.

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