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.

Additional Resources:

  • 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:

“Bedrest” written and developed by Lynda P. Haddon and Sandra Tompkins


What to Bring to the Hospital: ideas for Mom, Dad/Partner, Babies

A common question, especially for first time parents, is “What do I need to pack for the hospital?” Here are some suggestions for all of you:

For Mom

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush/comb and shampoo
  • Any other toiletries you might like, e.g. make-up, face creams
  • Two loose fitting nighties, preferably the breastfeeding kind. You will probably be wearing a hospital gown during for your delivery.
  • Slippers
  • Housecoat
  • You may sleep more comfortably with your own pillow(s)
  • If you want underwear and can’t find anything that fits, try men’s boxers – they are amazing, come in very large sizes and will go above your large belly before birth and above the incision in the evenr you have of c-section
  • Some people like to bring their own music but make sure you also bring earphones so as not to disturb anyone else
  • You could bring a journal for writing in
  • You might bring reading material, knitting or crocheting. These can help pass the time for someone on bedrest or after the babies are born
  • I found it very helpful to have some tiny mints such as Tic Tacs for use during labour. You aren’t allowed to eat or drink (other than some ice chips) and your mouth gets so dry from all of the mouth breathing during labour. Tic Tacs are perfect for this period of time
  • Clothing to come home in

For Dad/Partner

  • If labour is long, you might want some reading material for when your spouse is sleeping or resting
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and shaving equipment
  • How about a thermos of coffee so you don’t need to leave the birthing room?
  • Maybe a change of shirt, if you are to be there for a while
  • Some hospitals let dad/partner stay over night. Pyjames are a really good idea
  • Phone list of family members and friends you want to call after the babies are born

For the Babies

  • Initially they will probably only need a diaper, which the hospital provides
  • For low birth weight or premature babies, you may wish to purchase little nightshirts that are monitor friendly (the hospital can guide you as to when the babies can wear them)
  • When the babies leave the hospital, you will need a weather-appropriate outfit per child
  • Light blankets (or heavier if it is Winter) per baby to bring them home
  • Rear-facing car seat per child


  • Multiple Births Canada for information on car seats, and all things multiple births
  • Ever So Tiny – for premature and monitor friendly clothing and Twin Nursing Pillows
  • 2 by 2 Multiples – The fun site to go shopping for your multiples.
  • BabyLinq – An online resource for the popular Maya Wrap Sling baby carrier and other baby items and parenting tips. Geared particularly to the preemie and micro-preemie, their beautiful and soft clothing fits the smallest among us and is versatile enough to be used easily with medical monitors and tubes.
  • Chia’s Breastfeeding Friendly Clothing – Lindy Mertick’s line of breasfeeding clothing is manufactured by her home based business. This website has useful tips, breastfeeding info, mothering support and an extensive on-line catalogue.
  • Extraordinary Baby Shoppe – Great diaper information, diaper bags, items for Mom-to-be (maternity underwear), Mom, breastfeeding, slings, baby food.
  • Graco – Wonderful variety of baby products: strollers, car seats, backpacks.
  • Milkface Nursingwear – Your online breastfeeding resource! Young, modern and fashionable clothing for breastfeeding mothers as well as accessories to enhance your nursing relationship, from nursing bras to baby slings. Special services available to customers in the Ottawa, Ontario, Canada area.