When I had was pregnant with my first child, 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 hospital bed rest 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.
Actually if you’re an expectant mom on hospital bed rest then, you’ll want to read my Daily Hospital Checklist for Expectant Moms, which you can get right now:
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.
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.
Writing in gratitude journal daily is a great place to start.
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.
The book What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a great book to read.
Spice up the Atmosphere
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”.
*(This air freshener is automatic and give a burst of fragrance right when you need it).
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.
(Cross of the days as you go with this wall calendar).
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.
Update: My little girl is now 8 years old and does get a thrill seeing all the friends that came to visit and “reminiscing” about 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
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.
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Update (02/18): If you’re reading this right now, that little girl that I was on bed rest with for almost 2 months is now 8 years old! You can do this. Original article published March 26, 2013.
But first get my Daily Hospital Checklist for Expectant Moms from someone who knows exactly what it feels like to be where you are right now.