There are many reasons that women are prescribed bed rest; placental problems, cervical problems, preterm labor, pre-eclampsia and multiple gestation to name a few of the more common indications. Some women may chastise themselves saying, “If I hadn’t been working so much or moving this way or that…Then I wouldn’t need to be on bed rest.” In most cases, nothing could be further from the truth.
A brief literature search shows that nearly 20% of pregnant women will be prescribed bed rest at some point during their pregnancies. That’s 1 out of 5 women! So clearly the need for bed rest is more common than many of us realized. But what is distressing to me is that women blame themselves for having to go on bed rest. So right here and right now, I’d like mamas on bed rest to consider an alternative explanation for the bed rest prescription.
During pregnancy you grow a whole, complete human being. Think about it. Your body grows a whole other, fully functioning being. This takes an incredible amount of energy! Your body (your belly in particular) will expand to a size beyond what you may have ever believed to be physically possible. To support the pregnancy and the development of the growing baby, your body will increase it’s blood volume 45-50% by the end of the pregnancy so that it can deliver the necessary nutrients and oxygen to the growing baby while continuing to support your physiologic needs. Your musculoskeletal system will expand and adapt to support anywhere from an additional 20-50 pounds of pregnancy weight. Your kidneys and intestines will increase their efficiency to not only extract nutrients and wastes for and from mama, but also for and from the growing and developing baby. The adaptations that your body undergo during pregnancy are nothing short of miraculous.
The fetus that develops becomes a baby with the capability to see, hear, smell, taste, move and think. As the baby grows, he/she will grow not only is stature, but will gain gross and fine motor control, reasoning capabilities, communication skills and whatever other gifts and talents are bestowed upon them such as the ability to sing, draw, complete complex math equations, or to develop innovative products. All of these developments require energy, perhaps more energy than your body is normally used to expending to sustain yourself, let alone another being. By you slowing down, it gives your body the ability to divert energy from moving and sustaining you to making energy available for fetal development. Is pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) your issue? Perhaps your blood vessels need a bit more energy and leeway to adapt to the increased blood volume and transport necessary to feed and nurture your baby, leeway that results from lowering your body’s needs so the energy can be shunted to your baby? Are you going to chastise and berate your body for needing a little extra energy to create something or someone brilliant? What if you are growing the next Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi or Michael Jordan? If you are a mother of multiples, what if you are growing the next version of the Wright brothers and your children will revolutionize how we travel? What if…..
The work that your body is doing is more than a construction crew and/or scientists could do in many more months. They say that to house all the information and processes of the human brain would require several football fields. Yet mama, you are creating that complex organ that will fit perfectly inside your baby’s small skull right now. The best artificial limbs and organs are nothing compared to the originals we have and mama you are creating them-right now! Go ahead, sit back and marvel at your creative self, you deserve it! You’re awesome!
Bed rest is hard. You may feel achy, bored and lonely. Your hormones may make you feel weepy. You will need help with the most basic tasks and that may make you feel incredibly vulnerable. But just remember all the phenomenal things that your body is doing at this very minute. What may seem like “laying around” may be creating the next Nobel Laureate. What if …