Indications for Bed Rest During Pregnancy. Its Use and Possible Harm

bed rest during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a very pleasant and responsible period in the life of every woman. But, unfortunately, not always everything goes smoothly. Some women have to be very cautious about their health and reduce their activity. In the presence of any threat to the health of the mother or the child, the doctor may suggest a woman hospital bed rest for pregnancy maintenance. This means strict bed rest, which can be different in duration and severity. Everything depends on the detected pathology. Pregnancy is not a disease. But sometimes problems during pregnancy make the future mother take more care of herself. And very often the first “cure” in this list is bed rest during pregnancy.

What Is Bed Rest during Pregnancy?

If the doctor has discovered a real threat of miscarriage or a complication that may later affect the development and growth of the baby, he suggests a woman going to the maternity ward for bed rest and pregnancy maintaining. If the woman’s condition is relatively satisfactory, then the doctor can give her a sick leave so she can relax at home.

bed rest during pregnancy. Happy pregnant young woman lying and smiling on bed at home

Many women, especially pregnant women, are frightened by the word “hospitalization”. Pregnant women are afraid that they will have to stay in the hospital until delivery. In reality, such cases are very rare. Mostly, bed rest during pregnancy and decreased activity are needed only for a while. Once the threat passes, you can return to the normal rhythm of life. But do not overexert yourself.

Types of Bed Rest during Pregnancy

Limited mode of activity can be very variable. There are the following types:

  • Strict bed rest, in which the patient can’t sit down and get out of bed;
  • Extended bed rest, which is prescribed with a general satisfactory condition. A woman is allowed to move to a sitting position in bed from 5 to 40 minutes several times a day;
  • The ward mode – a woman can sit up to 50% of the time during the day. Also, a woman may slowly walk to a distance of 100-150 m;

bed rest during pregnancy

  • The free regime in addition to the ward one includes movement on the stairs from the 1st to the 3rd floor, walking for a distance of 1 km with rest every 150-200 m.
  • The sparing regime corresponds basically to the free regime. A woman can walk up to 3 km with rest every 20-30 minutes.
  • Sparing-training regime allows moderate physical activity: walking up to 4 km per hour, skiing at an air temperature of at least 10-12 ° C, easy sports games.
  • The training regime is for those cases when there are no pronounced deviations in the functions of various organs and systems. Running and sports games are also allowed.

This classification shows how different bed rest during pregnancy can be. Most often, if a future mother has complications that require a restriction of the mode of activity, doctors appoint a ward and a free regime of bed rest.


Strict bed rest is prescribed very rarely, usually to seriously ill patients or women immediately after surgery. Long-term bed rest, in turn, is fraught with complications. The lack of muscle activity is harmful both to a healthy and a sick person. Consequences of prolonged bed rest can be atrophy of muscles, contracture (immobility) of joints, loss of calcium, which leads to osteoporosis and, as a result, to fractures. Thus, these and other consequences of a long stay in bed will require additional treatment.

Indications for Bed Rest during Pregnancy

There are a lot of causes leading to a restriction of physical activity and bed rest during pregnancy. They can be associated with complications during pregnancy itself or with common diseases that occurred during pregnancy.

bed rest during pregnancy. pregnant woman resting at home

Of course, not in all cases, the pregnant woman must constantly stay in bed. In some situations it is enough to have rest several times a day in a prone position and reduce physical activity.

Bed rest during pregnancy can be prescribed in the following cases:

  • Threat of abortion. During bed rest, the mechanical effect on the fetus and the effect of vibration on the fetal egg decreases. As a result, the muscles of the uterus relax;
  • Gestosis. Bed rest during pregnancy leads to improvement of blood circulation in the kidneys and utero-placental circulation. As a result, pressure decreases;
  • Placenta previa. Due to bed rest during pregnancy the impact of physical activity is reduced. The risk of bleeding and placental abruption decreases as well;
  • Leakage of amniotic fluid. In this case a strict bed rest in the hospital is prescribed;
  • Premature detachment of the placenta. Bed rest will reduce the risk of increasing the tone of the muscles of the uterus and the subsequent detachment of the placenta;
  • Symphyseopathy (softening of the pubic joint). Bed rest during pregnancy in this case will help to stop bleeding and the leakage of amniotic fluid;

bed rest during pregnancy. sleeping on the back during pregnancy

  • Increased blood pressure. A horizontal position will help to decrease lower blood pressure;
  • ARVI. Bed rest will save the body’s strength to fight the virus.
  • Varicosity requires not a permanent bed rest, but a periodic one. Several times a day, lie down and lift your legs.
  • Toxicosis can cause a significant restriction of activity. Sometimes a woman may need treatment in the hospital.

What you Need to Clarify about Bed Rest during Pregnancy

If the obstetrician-gynecologist assigns you to bed rest, try to clarify:

  • duration of bed rest;
  • the seating permissibility and its duration;
  • whether it is possible to stand up for taking a shower or going to the toilet;
  • whether you need to eat while lying;
  • if it is possible to perform physical exercises;
  • if you can lift things up;
  • whether it is possible to read or work while lying;
  • whether sex is permissible;
  • if it is possible to do massage and self-massage.

How to Follow Bed Rest?

The basic recommendations for compliance with bed rest will be provided by your doctor. We only give some possible clarifications and clues:

  • During the first trimester, bed rest is usually allowed in any position in bed. Up to the 28th week it is permissible to lie on both sides and on the back. After this time it is better to lie on one side, preferably the left one;
  • If the position of the fetus is not correct: with pelvic presentation – it is necessary to turn from side to side 3 times a day 3-4 times for 10 minutes; in the transverse position – lie on the side where the baby’s head is located;

bed rest during pregnancy. pregnant woman in the bed

  • By permission of the doctor, you can perform special exercises to maintain muscle tone and the general capabilities of the body;
  • Follow a balanced diet in order to avoid excessive gain in weight. If you are on bed rest during pregnancy in a hospital, ask relatives to bring you vegetables and fruits;
  • Communicate with your friends and relatives even during bed rest;
  • Watch useful programs about pregnancy, childbirth, childcare, etc. You can also watch positive films and programs or draw;
  • Ask your husband or a person close to you to provide you with all you may need;
  • Invite a nanny or grandmother to look after the older child.

Possible Harm of Bed Rest during Pregnancy

American scientists conducted a study, the results of which showed the harm of bed rest. The first thing that affects pregnant women is an oppressed emotional state. A future mother, lying in bed, has a lot of time to think about the “tragedy” of her condition and listens to every painful signal of her body. This systematically leads to a depressive state. Secondly, long bed rest during pregnancy can lead to muscular atrophy. This is obviously not useful while preparing for childbirth.

In addition, pregnant women themselves often notice that their bed rest is more tiring than the state of moderate activity. Numbness can be disturbing. While moving, stiffness can bother as well. Some future mothers may have soreness in their legs during movement. Bed rest can also negatively affect the work of the heart. It can lead to a decrease in the functions of the cardiovascular system and to pulmonary congestion. Bed rest often contributes to the excess weight of a pregnant woman and a child.

If these negative sides are less significant than possible risks, then bed rest during pregnancy is justified.

Bed rest is a necessity with its indicators for the purpose. Only a doctor can appoint it. Excessive forethought and deprivation of self-activity without special need will, at least, lead to negative feelings and to a decrease in the possibilities of the organism.

How to Facilitate Bed Rest during Pregnancy?

Such a need gives little pleasure, because a woman has to spend a lot of time lying down. To make this period easy and quick, you need to ensure your comfort:

  • It is necessary to take care of a comfortable cushion, which can support the back.
  • If possible, you also need to take a special cover for the mattress, which reduces the burden on the spine.
  • Equip space next to you so that everything you need is at hand – phone, clean water, books, magazines, etc.

bed rest during pregnancy. pregnant woman with a dog

  • It is best to move the bed so that there is a window next to where the sun’s rays and fresh air come from.
  • Do not deny yourself the favorite procedures – manicure, pedicure, hairstyles. All this can cheer you up.
  • Try to find the pros in your bed rest during pregnancy. After all, you have the opportunity to get enough sleep, read your favorite books, watch TV shows, and most importantly, not to engage in routine domestic chores.

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