Bed Rest in Pregnancy- Is it Helpful?
Pinki, a 29 years-old-woman, was very much excited when she got positive pregnancy test for the first time. She is a school teacher. As she did not feel much problem, she continued her routine daily activities. Unfortunately she landed in miscarriage at 8 weeks. This time her friends and in laws- everybody told her that “she had miscarriage because she did not take rest“. But can anyone guarantee if she took bed rest, everything would have been absolutely normal? Let’s see what the science is saying.
Can bed rest prevent miscarriage?
Majority of the time the reason for miscarriage is some genetic problems in the baby. So, how can bed rest treat this genetic problem? The answer is of course, “NO”. Sometimes, the reason of miscarriage may be abnormal clotting of blood in the mother’s body (Anti Phospho Lipid Antibody Syndrome). Bed rest will INCREASE the risk of clotting and risks the life of mother and baby.
In fact, a number of scientific studies found that bed rest is not helpful in preventing miscarriage. Even in women with previous multiple miscarriages, BED REST WILL INCREASE THE RISK OF MISCARRIAGE.
So, please do not imagine that bed rest will act as “glue” that helps in attaching the baby with the uterus.
In IVF pregnancy, is bed rest helpful?
Often we see the women not moving out of the bed after IVF. It may be because of anxiety or because they spent so much of money for IVF. But the scientific studies found that bed rest does not improve the chance of pregnancy. Rather, bed rest increases the risk of miscarriage and other unwanted complications in IVF pregnancy.
In my previous pregnancy baby was delivered at 20 weeks. I was told that it was “Late Miscarriage” or “Preterm Labour” due to “Cervical Incompetence“. Is bed rest recommended for me?
Not at all. Till now no scientific studies have found that bed rest is beneficial in prevention of preterm labour.
I am having twin pregnancy. Should I take complete bed rest?
Twin pregnancy carried the risk of premature delivery and miscarriage. However, there is no scientific evidence that bed rest is helpful in prolonging the pregnancy in Twin.
I am having bleeding in pregnancy. Should I take bed rest?
Often women, who experience bleeding in pregnancy (early or late pregnancy) state that they notice increase in bleeding after doing any activity. But activities actually do not increase the bleeding. What happens, during rest, blood accumulates inside the vagina. During subsequent physical activity this blood comes out and woman feels that the rest decreases bleeding. We do not recommend complete bed rest. However, we advise to restrict strenuous activities, because you may not get medical facilities everywhere.
My baby is not growing well inside the uterus. Should I take bed rest to improve baby’s weight?
The scientific studies have not shown any benefit if bed rest in growth restricted baby. Rather bed rest will decrease the blood flow to the baby and reduce baby’s birth-weight.
I understand that bed rest is not helpful. But is it harmful at all?
In pregnancy, there is a tendency of clotting of the blood, leading to THROMBOSIS, which is a life-threatening condition. Older women and overweight women are at increased risk BED REST INCREASES THE RISK OF THROMBOSIS.
Pregnancy often leads to various emotional changes. BED REST INCREASES THE RISK OF DEPRESSION, and can even increase the negative thought and suicidal tendency.
Pregnancy is often associated with problems of indigestion, constipation and acidity. BED REST WILL INCREASE ALL THESE PROBLEMS.
Pregnancy puts stress on the bones of the mother. That’s why pregnant women are advised Calcium. BED REST WILL WEAKEN THE BONE FURTHER.
Moreover, bed rest will make it difficult to control Blood Pressure in Preeclampsia and Blood Sugar in Diabetes. Additionally, the financial effects of bed rest, particularly for the working women, should not be ignored.
So should I take any rest or not?
Pregnancy is associated with increased weakness. So take rest as much as you feel. But do not restrict your daily activities. Whenever you feel tired, take rest. But restringing yourself to bed for the whole day will increase the problem.
I have seen my friends having advised bed rest. Is it necessary?
Ironically, less than 50% of the practices in Obstetrics and Gynaecology are supported by string scientific evidence. There are many problems (miscarriage, preterm labour, inadequate growth of the baby) for which we still do not have good solution. There are many uncertainties about the success (like IVF). So, the women want to do something, so that they can console their mind “I have tried my best”. This is complicated by unwanted advice from friends and relatives- “This happened because you did not take bed rest. Mrs XYZ took total bed rest and now she is a happy mother”. This makes the woman depressed.
What should I do?
That’s why we ask “How mentally strong you are?” If you feel you can accept whatever happens, (good or bad), do routine activities. Of course, we are not advising you to jump from a hill. But if you feel, “Bed Rest will help me to give mental strength. I will feel I will be doing some treatment for my baby”, you can take bed rest. But do not allow any other person to impose any unscientific advice on you.