Types of Bedrest in Pregnancy

Pregnant woman in bed reading a tablet

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Most pregnant women are very healthy during pregnancy and have no problems, but a certain number need to be on some form of bed rest for a variety of medical reasons. Some of these problems may include:

Incompetent Cervix

The cervix opens too early and may allow premature birth. Sometimes this is treated with surgery to close the cervix until the pregnancy reaches a safe age for birth to occur.

High Blood Pressure (PIH)

When a mother's blood pressure goes too high, it can cause problems for her and the baby. Rest can help reduce these readings in blood pressure.

Threatened Miscarriage

If the pregnancy is in question or if there is bleeding, bed rest may be ordered.

Premature Labor

Sometimes the stress of life in combination with the physical stress of pregnancy can cause preterm contractions. Although often there is no known caue of preterm labor, these contractions create a situation where the pregnancy is threatening to end early. Bed rest is one of the interventions used to help prevent preterm birth.

The benefit of bed rest is variable. This intervention may help some pregnant women but not others, and may work better for some complications more than others.

Most doctors and midwives say that the added rest and relaxation are alone beneficial.

But there are also physical benefits of bed rest for some moms, including lowered blood pressure, less pressure on the cervix, and better blood flow to the baby.

Types of Bed Rest

Bed rest is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, there is evidence that bed rest may actually not help and in fact may lead to complications for some women. This means that bed rest should be used sparingly and with caution for most mothers. Here are the types of bed rest you might hear about.

Modified Bed Rest

This type will take whatever form your practitioner advises. For some women, this is being allowed to work at a desk but being in bed while at home. For others, it's strict rest hours a couple of times a day. This one does not have a specific meaning, so be sure to ask your doctor or midwife what exactly modified bed rest means.

Strict Bed Rest

This form of bed rest usually means you're allowed in bed or on the couch and can only get up to use the bathroom. There may be requirements made on how many times a day you can change locations. You may also have restrictions on climbing stairs and showering/bathing. Be sure to ask.

Hospital/Complete Bed Rest

This form is the strictest and may include hospitalization. You will use a bedpan and not be allowed up during the day. Sometimes it also involves special positioning like your head lower than your body (Trendelenburg) to alleviate pressure on the cervix.

A Word From Verywell

While bed rest seems to have many advantages there are also no studies that prove its effectiveness for every pregnancy complication. The wise use of this sometimes physically debilitating and mentally/emotionally draining experience is highly recommended. Nearly every form of bed rest includes pelvic rest.

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