How to Survive Hospital Bed Rest Like a Pro

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When I had my daughter a few years ago, I could have never imagined what a “roller coaster ride” would ensue. Things were normal at first, but quickly changed when I was admitted to the hospital at 25 weeks pregnant. After spending a total of 43 days in the hospital on strict bed rest, I learned how to manage like a pro.

Tips to survive hospital bed rest during pregnancy

I am not saying that it was not difficult, because it was. But, how you handle any unplanned situation (such as hospital bed rest) during your pregnancy can make all the difference. And just to be clear, bed rest in the comfort of your home is totally different than bed rest in a sterile clinical setting.

Be Thankful

One of the first things that you should do if you find out that you have to be on hospital bed rest is to be thankful for the intervention. Unfortunately, many women with compromised pregnancies, don’t get the opportunity go on bed rest and the situation can turn more dire than it began.  Mandated bed rest is an opportunity to give your baby the best chance at being totally equipped to face the world ahead. It’s hard, it’s challenging, but you are not at the end of your rope.

Stop Playing the Blame Game

What if you had done this? If only you would have done that, then maybe you would have not been in this predicament? You know what?  You can go on and on but it’s not going change your circumstances now.  As a matter of fact, doing things differently than you had before may even give you the same result. While you can speculate all you want, not even the doctors always know why some things end up like they do. So do yourself a favor and stop blaming yourself. Self pity and guilt does not become you.

Keep a Routine

Now time to get down to the “nitty gritty”.  Everyone one has a routine. While some routines are more extensive and detailed than others, they are our own.  Keeping up with your “normal” routine is pretty simple when you are in your own environment and you can walk around and do things for yourself. But, what happens when your sense of normalcy is shaken? You develop a new sense of normal. When I was on hospital bed rest, it was the first time since coming into adulthood that I had to be totally reliant on someone else. I was restricted to the hospital bed to eat, to brush my teeth, to bathe, to use the bathroom… I felt like my very dignity was being stripped from me.

But, you know what? I got over my ego really quickly. I realized that this journey that I was on was so was so much bigger than myself and my ego. So, I developed a routine. My routine involved waking up at a specific time each day, even if my only job at the time was to stay in the hospital bed and provide a warm place for my baby to grow. I had times designated to read, time for prayer, time for food, time for grooming, time for couponing (even if I could not use them at the time), and a time for friends and visitors.

A quick tip:  This is a great time to read all those magazines, and books that you may have not time to read before your extended stay.  Ask family and friends to bring some reading material over when they visit.

Spice up the Atmosphere

2 flower vases in the window

A few flowers from family and friends

One of the best pieces of advice that I got in the hospital was to think of the hospital as my “my residence, my home away from home”. I initially thought it was a “load of crap”, but that advice from my nurse really went a long way. I had my husband go to our home and bring back framed family pictures and my wall calendar to spice up those bland white walls. My room was filled with sounds of music from my favorite playlists many times of the day. I made a conscious effort to only watch cable TV during a designated one hour period…supposedly preventing my brain from turning to mush.  A friend even brought over some air fresheners for the room to get rid of that “clinical smell”. Beautiful flowers lined the window sill in vibrant colors and pretty cases, which I had collected from the generosity of visitors past. We converted the small linen closet cubby to a make-shift pantry and kept it stocked with my favorite cereals, snacks and fruit.  Believe me when I say, “You should not solely depend on the hospital food for your nourishment”.

Document Your Memories

Keeping a wall calendar is essential to get though your “temporary” and I stress “temporary stay”. Depending on your situation, your “care team” may not even tell you when you will be going home. When I was admitted, no one would tell me about anything pertaining to going home until that time was 5 days away. Seeing my husband write an “x” on the wall calendar after each passing day made me feel a sense of victory… a sense of accomplishment.  If you don’t do any of following things on this list, you really should follow through with this one.  As a bonus you can keep the calendar as a memento. Why would you want to keep a memento of such an experience you may ask? Well, I keep it to remind myself that whenever things get rough, no matter what I am going through, that the situation is only temporary.

Additionally, consider taking photos of all your visitors and documenting your experience by keeping a photo journal.  You could also write a daily journal, whatever works for you. For me, I am quite visual so a photo journal was the way to go. Even three years later I often refer to my photo journal and share it with family and friends. One day, when my daughter is old enough, I will share it with her. I really think that she will get a thrill when she finds out all the “fireworks” that she came into the world with.

Continue Self Preservation & Grooming

Believe it or not, you can lose yourself in the process of being on hospital bed rest. No massages, no coffee dates, no waxing appointments, as a matter of fact…no shaving, no hair appointments…you get the picture. But instead of thinking of what you can’t do, think about what you can do. You can’t get your brows waxed at your favorite spot but you can tweeze your brows. You can’t go and get your hair “done” at your favorite hairdresser but you can continue to comb your hair and wear a pretty scarf on your head.  So you get the picture…wear your favorite pair of earrings, wear some great lipstick, polish your nails, give yourself a facial! You are on hospital bed rest but you are not in prison.

While you are at it, work on your mental health as well. Prayer, meditation, puzzles, reading or just “gabbing” with a friend can be great emotional and mental boosters. Trust me when I say, you will truly need it. Never deny the power of the mind.

Encourage Friends and Visitors

Woman on hospital bedrest

Sisterly Love

Besides my husband, (my co-resident at the hospital for 43 days) having visitors to my hospital room made all the difference.  I was blessed enough to have someone visit us almost every day. Keep in mind that most people just want to help and show support to you and your family. So if they ask “What can I bring?”, tell them!   My stay became more manageable when friends brought in reading material, favorite cereals,  great meals (unless your diet is restricted per doctor’s orders),  my favorite snacks, fruits, DVD’s and even air fresheners, made my stay more comfortable.  Allowing people to visit during this very vulnerable time is one of the best things that you can do. It puts you in contact with the outside world, it strengthens you, and it relieves you.  So don’t shun the outside world out. Let people in. But if you need a break from the calls, the texts, the visits, just tell your friends “Hey, today is not a good day, maybe tomorrow”. Because believe me when I say, tomorrow…tomorrow will be a better day.

At the end of the day, I am blessed and highly favored. I have overcome and have a beautiful daughter as a result. And how am I doing now…well…we are expecting our second.

21 weeks pregnant

The Next Step: Free Content Upgrade

Struggling with what to bring a loved one on best rest? I’ve got some great books recommendations and a quite useful content upgrade for this post that any mom new will love. Not only that, these books make for great reading to get you prepared for your little one. So if you are on bed rest, and reading this…you may just want to get these books for yourself.
Just drop in your email below to see what books you’ll want to start reading right now before the baby arrives. These are the books that I bought and personally recommend when my friends and family have babies.
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  1. Yay! Congratulations Lisa:)

  2. jenny Leslie says:

    Yeah, I remembered a ‘certain person’ enjoying her thanksgiving meal prepared by her mom while on hospital bed rest. It was great to see a smile on her face!

  3. Hi! I am glad everything turned out well in the end! I was on bed rest (at home, though) for two months before my twins were born. When my blood pressure spiked, they put me in the hospital and were planning on having me there for two months. But by the end of the week, they had to deliver my babies by emergency C-section – at 32 weeks. I didn’t see them for the first two days of their lives, but everything has worked out!

  4. So many people don’t realize how hard bed rest really is. Thanks for telling your story and offering such great tips. Stopping by from SITS!

    • Yes, there is misconception that it must be “fun” to stay in a bed all day…relaxing even. Ugh…not so much.

  5. Hi this makes me feel like I’m not the only one out there going through this. I’m 26 weeks and 2 days and was put on bedrest 4 days ago in the hospital. I keep going back to myself to blame and you are right I need to stop. Be blessed I’m here and start my new routine. Thank you for your post!

    • Sarah, you are so welcome. Reading your words makes me feel grateful that I decided to share. What I realize now so many years later, is not only was that period in my life a time of challenge but, a time of growth. I wish you and your family tremendous health, wellness and growth. {Hugs} to you.

  6. cynthiamurdoch says:

    I was recently on forced “sofa” rest when I broke my ankle. Even though I spend much of my day on the computer or reading, the fact that I was restricted to the house and to the sofa felt so confining. I got through it with the help of many of my wonderful friends and family. Sometimes these situations make us realize how to appreciate those little things in life that we take for granted. I wish I would have read about your new routines earlier – it would have helped a lot.

    • Awe Cynthia. I am so sorry to hear that. Yes, it is those times in our lives that we realize we have to rely on the love and kindness of others. It is a lesson in humility, I certainly hope that you are 100% now.

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