Important Facts About Asking the Doctor for Bed Rest

Updated March 26, 2019
Pregnant woman on bed rest

If you are experiencing certain complications during pregnancy, you may want to ask your doctor if he or she recommends bed rest as a form of treatment for your condition. Your doctor may prescribe bed rest to help ease the symptoms you may be experiencing and lower the risk of further complications or the possibility of preterm labor. If you have concerns and are wondering how to get put on bed rest during pregnancy, understand what you may need to discuss with your doctor.

What Is Bed Rest?

It may be necessary for your doctor to prescribe bed rest when you need to restrict your physical activity during pregnancy. This is usually due to a condition or pregnancy complications that could affect the well-being of you and/or your baby. There are actually different types of bed rest depending on how serious the complications which could range from complete bed rest at home, to modified bed rest with fewer restrictions, to being monitored at the hospital.

Reasons Why You May Be Put on Bed Rest

There are a number of reasons you may be put on bed rest:

  • Vaginal bleeding at any stage of your pregnancy
  • Complications with your cervix such as cervical incompetence, cervical dilatation and cervical softening which could lead to premature labor
  • Complications with your placenta such as placenta previa, placenta accreta or placental abruption
  • High blood pressure or a diagnosis of preeclampsia or eclampsia
  • Premature labor (labor prior to 37 weeks gestation)
  • Pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets etc.)
  • History of premature labor or pregnancy loss
  • Gestational diabetes

Discuss Concerns With Doctor

If you feel you need to be put on bed rest due to a newly diagnosed condition or unusual symptoms you are experiencing, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor. He will determine if bed rest is necessary and what other options may be available to you. However, if you feel that your doctor is not taking you seriously or dismissing your concerns, you may need to address this as well.

  • Be direct but respectful when speaking with your doctor.
  • Let him or her know that you don't feel s/he is listening to you.
  • Come prepared to your appointment with notes and details of what you are experiencing.
  • Go over every symptom with him or her.

If you still feel that there are communication concerns or you're not comfortable with his recommendations, then you may need a second opinion or a new doctor.

What Is Modified Bed Rest?

Your doctor may recommend modified bed rest. This means that you will still have to restrict your activity but you do not have to be confined to a bed. Limited activity, such as showering and going to your doctor appointments, is typically allowed and acceptable. However, other activities such as house cleaning, exercising or shopping should be avoided. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on what you are able to do while on modified bed rest.

Is Bed Rest Truly Necessary?

Some studies have shown that there is no supporting or disproving evidence of the benefits of bed rest during pregnancy, however, doctors still believe in it and prescribe it. In the United States, approximately 95% of obstetricians recommend bed rest to their patients for various reasons, and at some point during their pregnancy nearly 20% of pregnant women will be placed on bed rest.

Potential Risks of Bed Rest During Pregnancy

The type of bed rest prescribed will vary from woman to woman. You may only need bed rest for a short period of time until a condition subsides or stabilizes. However, if you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, you may need bed rest throughout your pregnancy. There are potential health issues that may occur when on strict bed rest which include:

  • Increased risk of developing a blood clots
  • Decrease in bone mass
  • Weakened muscles
  • Indigestion and/or heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Stress-related issues

Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy

Bed rest during your pregnancy can be worrisome and stressful. But be reassured that your doctor will work with you to determine the most appropriate way to handle your specific pregnancy issues and concerns which will ultimately help ensure that you maintain a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.

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Important Facts About Asking the Doctor for Bed Rest