- Prevent Preterm Birth

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Making the Best of Bed Rest


At first you fantasize about catching up on DVDs, updating your iPod, and reading trashy novels all day, but then you realize that someone needs to make dinner, earn money to pay the bills, and potty-train your two year old. And it ain't gonna be you!

Over time you may feel frustrated or bored, and even angry or scared. You worry about the health of your baby or babies constantly, and about your own health. Will you gain more weight than average? Will you be at risk for other pregnancy complications?  Will you have the strength to take care of a newborn? The answer to all three: maybe.

"If 750,000 businessmen every year were told to leave their jobs and lie on their left sides for months on end, I have a funny feeling there would be a lot more research done on bed rest!"
       Sarah Bilston, author of the novel Bed Rest.

And "maybe" is the absolute worst thing about bed rest. Maybe it will help. Maybe your baby will make it to full term. Maybe you and your husband will be, uh, intimate again... someday. Maybe tomorrow you'll come up with another way to pass the time. Let us offer a few suggestions...

Join our bed rest support group with other women on bed rest or who are at risk of preterm birth, meet us in the Chat Room every Tuesday at 2 p.m Eastern time, and post your suggestions for coping with bed rest here. Keep 'em cookin', mamas!


Nearly one million pregnant women are put on bed rest each year, according to Dr. Glade B. Curtis and Judith Shuler, authors of Your Pregnancy Week By Week. A few of the most common reasons for bed rest are listed below.

Incompetent cervix/cerclage, an abnormally shaped or bicornuate uterus, or a short cervix:
As the baby, or babies, gain weight and begin to put pressure on the cervix, the cervix may begin to open before the due date.

Episode of preterm labor or preterm birth in prior pregnancy, episode of preterm labor in current pregnancy, or irritable uterus:
The goal for these groups of high-risk women is to prevent contractions. For women with an irritable uterus, contractions can be caused by nearly any movement walking up or down stairs, bending over, reaching for something, etc. 

High blood pressure, preeclampsia:
Limited activity helps to lower the mother's blood pressure, and lying on one side or the other helps improve blood flow to the baby.

Placenta previa, placental abruption:
In placenta previa, the placenta blocks part or all of the cervix. In the case of placental abruption, the placenta becomes detached from the uterus. Bed rest helps to reduce the bleeding that is common with these two conditions.

Premature rupture of membranes:
Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) is when the bag of waters breaks prior to the start of labor. If this occurs before 37 weeks, it is known as premature PROM, which may lead to preterm delivery. Bed rest is prescribed for preterm patients who have not yet reached 36 weeks, are not in labor, and do not show signs of infection or fetal distress.

Multiple gestation (being pregnant with twins, triplets, or more):
Each of the conditions above is more common with a multiple gestation. Bed rest may be prescribed beginning between 20 and 24 weeks as a preventive measure.

There are potential negative side effects to bed rest, including loss of muscle tone, joint pain, blood clots, and mood changes, such as anxiety and depression. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these side effects.

There are countless women who will say bed rest kept their babies safe in the womb. And in cases where bed rest doesn't prevent a preterm birth, a mother can be confident in knowing she did all she could.

Click here to talk to other women on bed rest, or post a question for our Forum members.

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    If you are less than 37 weeks along, call your doctor immediately if you are experiencing vaginal or rectal pressure; or have a feeling like the baby could fall out.

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