Question: I am pregnant with multiples and have been ordered to bedrest by my doctor. How will this help my babies? How will I pass the time? How can I relieve the boredom?
It isn’t unusual for a woman expecting multiples to be placed on bedrest. There are many reasons why this might be necessary. They include: water retention spotting, high blood pressure, signs of premature labour, one or more of the babies not growing at a satisfactory rate (e.g. weight discrepancies between the babies, babies not developing at the same rate or gestational diabetes, a pregnancy-related diabetes). Bedrest produces many benefits for both mother and babies. It relieves the pressure on the cervix and assures that calories and nutrients that would normally go to the mother’s activities are diverted to the babies.
There are several different levels of bedrest:
- At home in bed or lying down, being allowed up for very short periods of time;
- Hospitalized and allowed up for bathroom privileges only;
- Hospitalized and not allowed to leave the bed;
- Hospitalized and the bed tilted with your feet upwards (tredelenburg position); and
- Hospitalized weekdays and allowed out on the weekends with specific instructions.
It is not always easy to be hospitalized. You may have other children at home and this can be traumatic and upsetting for everyone. Stress related to additional child care situations can be harmful. Use your support systems: family, friends, neighbours. People love to help but aren’t always aware of what you might need.
If you are permitted to leave the hospital, this can help alleviate some of the pressure of not being available for your child(ren) while maintaining a safe environment for your unborn babies. When explaining to your child(ren) why Mom is not at home, use clear, comforting, age appropriate language. Whenever possible, take the child(ren) to the hospital for a visit, allowing them to see for themselves where Mom is and what her day involves. If your child(ren) doesn’t want to go to the hospital, try to accommodate their wishes. Keep the child(ren)’s routine the same, whenever possible.
There are many things that you can do to help pass the time while on bedrest:
- Read and learn all about multiples and your unique and special situation;
- If you have access to a laptop, check out many of the helpful web sites regarding multiple births: Multiple Births Canada;
- Keep a calendar by your bedside to cross off the days;
- Pick one night a week to do something special with your partner: order in supper, watch a movie;
- Knit, crochet, needlepoint, write letters, phone friends;
- Keep a daily journal. It is very rewarding and fulfilling to look back on this period of time and share it with your children.
- Ask if there are any other mothers expecting multiples also on bedrest. Sharing with someone in the same situation can provide comfort, companionship and a chance to share experiences.
For mothers expecting higher order multiples (triplets, quadruplets or quintuplets), it is almost inevitable that an extensive period of your pregnancy will be spent on bedrest. Be aware of special exercises which will help decrease joint and muscle stiffness in bed. One mother of twins hired a massage therapist a couple of times during her 9 weeks on bedrest. Ask to speak to a physiotherapist while in the hospital. Doing exercises will assist you after the babies birth and assist your recovery. You may also need ongoing physiotherapy after the babies are born if any of your muscles have atrophied. Walking may be uncomfortable initially because of pelvic bones shifting back into place and sore, achy muscles. As well, softened skin on the balls of the feel may need to harden again.
This time spent on bedrest can make a positive difference in the health of your babies, assisting them in gaining weight and completing their development. Each day your babies remain in utero, is one less day they will need to spend in a Special Care Nursery. There can be no safer environment for your multiples than that which your body can provide.
Most of us are highly motivated, busy, active people accomplishing a great deal. It can be quite difficult for a person who is used to activity to be forced to remain quiet and in bed. Many women still feel healthy but are forced into an “illness” role. It is not uncommon to experience negatives feelings in this situation. It is important that a support network be used to discuss these feelings. You are not alone. Many multiple support groups offer a bedrest support line, staffed by women who have been in your situation. Contact your nearest multiple birth support Chapter for further information.
- Eating Well While on Bedrest, by Julia Watson-Blasioli and Pauline Brazeau-Gravell, Ottawa Hospital, General Campus
- Twins! Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life, by Connie L. Agnew, Alan H. Klein and Jill Allison Granon
- Multiple Blessings by Betty Rothbart, Hearst Books
- The Joy of Twins and Other Multiple Births, by Pamela Patrick Novotny, Crown Paperbacks, Inc.
- Finding our Way, life with triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets – A collection of experiences
Triplets, Quads, Quints Association, Web Site: http://www.tqq.com
“Bedrest” written and developed by Lynda P. Haddon and Sandra Tompkins