Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Strict bed rest" - at first it doesn't sound so bad. I mean, what woman couldn't use a few days of laying around, having her every need fulfilled by a devoted husband. At first I envisioned a small, bedside fridge filled with all of my favorite treats. Fresh salads delivered to my bed side, chocolates magically appearing on fresh, crisp sheets that had been changed while I took my doctor approved 5 minute daily shower. My mind whirled with the prospect of exotic cheeses and the occasional sweet from my favorite little bakery. I made mental lists of the novels I would finally complete, the lovely projects I would churn out from my bedroom, and the intricate plans I would lay for my new baby.

Sadly, the reality of bed rest doesn't really live up to the hype, but you WILL survive and I hope that I can show you a few ways to make it a little less tedious.

Part one - the basics

First things first, you will need to determine exactly what "bed rest" entails for you. Doctors proscribe different types of bed rest dependent on the severity of your condition, you pre-existing risk factors as well as a myriad of other factors. Have a frank discussion with your doctor. Ask specific questions about what you can and can't do. Some questions to consider are:
  • Can I get up to go to the bathroom?
  • Can I walk around the house?
  • Can I drive?
  • Can I walk up and down stairs?
  • Can I take a shower?
  • Can I have sex?
  • Can I life my children/pet/whatever?
Chances are, if you are on what is called "strict bed rest" the answer to most of these questions will be no (with the hopeful exclusion of the one about going to the bathroom). This may seem distressing, but it's best to know what you are up against.

Once you return home from the doctor, you are officially on bed rest and there are several decisions that you need to make. Your first big choice is going to be where to set up camp. Chance are you are going to be stuck in one place for a while so you better make sure that you like it.

1. The "bed" - seeing as this is bed rest, you are going to need something to rest in. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bed, but that is probably one of the more popular options. The other option is probably your couch. Each of these locations has their pros and cons. The couch is likely located in your living room or den or some other high activity part of your house. Locating yourself here will allow you to maintain a vague semblance of normalcy by keeping you in the center of it all. You will be able to see everyone coming and going you can still be the director or the house. Unfortunately, your couch probably isn't as big or as comfortable as your actual bed. I also found that being off of the beaten path was sometimes a little desirable. My husband could find a few moments of peace to cook dinner or even sit down while the kid(s) spent some time with me watching TV or something (more on kid friendly bed activities later). Further, if you are expecting guests you may prefer to set up camp in the living room since having people into your bedroom sort of increases the "sick bed" feel.

Clearly your other option is your actual bed. This was the choice that I made. Being in the bed allowed me to spread out a bit since it is about twice as large as my couch. This reduces the need to lean over and pick up books or crafts or whatever from the floor. Something which should be avoided since it requires some fairly serious use of the abdominals. You bed is also likely a little more comfortable and can accommodate more pillows (Certainly I don't need to remind you of the importance of pillows to the expectant mom.) The bedroom is especially nice if you prefer a bit more privacy or a quieter atmosphere.

If your doctor is being a bit more lenient, you may be able to split your time between two locations. This will allow you to sleep in your bed at night and spend some family time on the couch during the day. If you can swing this remember to keep your trips to the bare minimum. Don't attempt to relocate your entire set up every time you move from one location to another. Once you've decided where you will preside from you will need to get your amenities in order....more on that tomorrow!

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