Bed rest is a reality of many multiples pregnancies. It can be one of the most challenging experiences both physically and mentally. I ended up on full bed rest for 8 weeks, part of which was in the hospital and part was at home.
Types of bed rest
Modified bed rest is when you can continue your activities but need to limit them. Minimal standing/walking is allowed. There is limited or no lifting as this puts strain on the uterus which is already doing double duty.
Full bed rest is limited to lying in a bed or chair most of your day, sometimes only being allowed to get up to use the bathroom or possibly shower. No lifting is allowed and it can be even more strict depending on your situation.
Home vs Hospital bed rest
Home bed rest gives you the comforts of your home and a more quiet and controlled environment. It can be challenging however, as you will be more inclined to get up to “get things done” around the house. I was home alone while my husband was at work so there can be the fear of something going wrong when no one is around to help. Also, the logistics of having things close to you to limit your activity and provide you comfort can be challenging. Meal prep, cooking and shopping can be difficult too.
If you are on hospital bed rest a lot of the things will be provided, which is nice. Your meals will be prepared and delivered to you, an electric bed, extra pillows and comfort items and nurses to help 24/7. My husband liked it better knowing I was being cared for and could get help if needed.
I however prefer being at home as there is “no place like home.” The constant noise, vital sign taking, shift changes and checking in was disruptive in getting any rest or relaxation.
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If you end up on bed rest the time of solitude can be spent thinking of the babies and worrying about their health as well as your own. I found it hard to stay positive and comfortable. Here are some things that can help:
Set goals– every week (or day) you make it through, be sure to celebrate! I had a good friend call me each week to congratulate us. We took a weekly picture of my growing belly and I journaled about my experience the past week. We would often talk about the boys’ first Christmas or our first trip we would take them on. Looking into the future was fun and exciting and kept my mind in a more positive place.
Get dressed– make it a point if you can to get out of the PJ’s and dressed, even if it is into yoga pants and a t-shirt. On especially good days maybe try doing your hair and a little make up. It does wonders for the spirits just to accomplish that in one day.
Keep it in reach– if you are at home set up the things you might need in the room you want to be for the day. Maybe pick a spot near the TV and a window. Have your partner pack a cooler and set it by you so you can reach it when you need more water or food. When heading to the bathroom swing by the kitchen if needed on the same trip to limit your times up during the day.
Comfort– I was very uncomfortable in bed so I had to swallow my pride and we rented a motorized recliner. These can be rented at most major medical supply companies on weekly or monthly basis. It was a life saver, I could get up without starting contractions or having pain and slept in it all night long. Extra pillows and blankets can help too.
Entertainment– it might be time to get a Netflix account or the like. Pick a TV series you always wanted to watch or movies you missed when they came out. I had a hard time concentrating but crosswords, books and puzzles might help pass the time. Many hospitals offer boredom busters or other activities to help pass the time so be sure to ask.
Visitors– planned phone calls, skype and visits can help lift your mood. These can sometime be taxing so limit the time or number of people who come. Social media can help you stay connected while on bed rest. It’s a great way to pass time but remember if you are feeling down seeing everyone’s lives pass by while yours is on pause, maybe take a break. Having people provide meals, house cleaning or run errands was very helpful too. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help and be sure to take it when help is offered. Twin groups can be a great resource for moms on bed rest as well as long term after the twins arrive. No one knows what you are going through better than a fellow twin mom. They will often offer meals, support, and might even send a mom over who was on bed rest to answer questions, give advice, and help you get through this hard time. Many stores offer online ordering in which a friend could pick it up on their way to visit. Looking into meal delivery options are nice and often entail minimal prep/cook time.
Other children– if you have other children the stress of bed rest is amplified. Having a family member or care taker move in temporarily might be needed. The child may act out as they are not getting the time with mom they are used to enjoying even before the babies arrive. Making them mommy’s helpers, if old enough, having friends or family take them to fun/special places and extra time with dad may help with some of their feelings.
So, although they are difficult memories, I watch my healthy, happy boys run and play and those days of bed rest fade away. I still feel somewhat cheated of the ‘normal’ pregnancy experience but I knew what was needed to keep my babies healthy. As a mom, you do what is best for them even if it starts before you get to see their little sweet faces, because that is what make us moms!
About the author
Cristy Hamiliton, RN, MSN, FNP-C is TLC’s Denver Associate. She has fraternal twin boys named Liam and Tyler and grew up in Colorado most of her life. Cristy enjoys working part time in a fulfilling career as a family nurse practitioner in a clinic setting. She received both her bachelors and masters degrees in nursing from the University of Colorado and holds a board certification by the AANP. You can reach Cristy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our preparing for Twins Denver services.