Women are used to doing it all—working, taking care of children, errands, chores and much more. So when a woman is put on bedrest during her pregnancy, it can be a challenge just to ask for help.
“It was hard to ask for help,” Jennifer Spencer said of nine weeks of bedrest during her first pregnancy. “It just feels weird when I’m used to doing everything.”
Doctors or other health care professionals may advise women to rest and stay horizontal for the late stages of their pregnancy for a variety of reasons. Ms. Spencer, and many other women like her, might first imagine themselves on a leisurely work-from-home schedule or crafting baby blankets. The reality is that messy chores and tedious errands must still get done and these women cannot do them without help.
“It was not at all how I imagined it,” she said. “People are busy and I’m home alone and bored at 2:00 p.m. on a weekday and can’t just ask them to stop by and scoop out the cat’s litterbox or wash the dishes.”
Darline Turner-Lee, founder of Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, knows all about life on bedrest.
“The thing I found is that people treat it like it’s a vacation, and it’s really not,” Ms. Turner-Lee said. “Your life just gets suspended in an instant. All of a sudden you have to figure out, who is going to walk my child to school? Who is going to walk the dog? Who is going to grocery shop? Who is going to do the laundry? There are so many little things.”
Ms. Turner-Lee spent time on bedrest herself and understands where women are coming from. “Don’t be too proud, ask for help,” she said. “You can and you must because the life of your baby may really depend on you staying in bed.”
Asking for help while on bedrest might be as simple as asking a spouse to take on extra chores and make meals ahead of time, asking a neighbor to walk older children to school, or hiring professional caregivers who can provide support.
Beyond the chores and working from home, women cannot literally sit still on the couch or bed for weeks on end. “What I would have really liked, because it hurts to lay on the couch all the time, was to get a pedicure or a massage,” said Ms. Spencer.
Ms. Turner-Lee recommends that women do get massages while on bed rest and ask their doctors if there is some safe exercise they can do. She has created a DVD of modified prenatal exercises for women on bedrest.
“It’s a very sudden and alienating feeling,” said Ms. Spencer of being put on maternity bedrest. “If all you need is help, get over it and ask.”
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