6 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity While on Bed Rest
When I was big with children with the twins I was first put on modified bed rest because my cervix kept thinking too early. As directed by my obstetrician, modified bed rest basically meant that I needed to be lying down with my upper body reclining no higher than at a 45-degree angle as much as possible, but I was allowed to do quick things on my feet like make a sandwich for myself, run a load of laundry, take a quick shower, run to the bathroom, etc. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of being confined to my house, but on the plus side, I already was so fatigued all of the time and it was so cumbersome to move that it didn’t end up cramping my style much.
That being said, there is something psychological about knowing you can’t go somewhere or do something. It got much worse when after a month of being on modified bed rest I had to be hospitalized at 30 weeks because I was having preterm contractions up the wazoo. Once I got to the hospital, I was on official strict bed rest. Now the only time I was allowed to get out of bed was to make a quick trip to the bathroom or take a two-minute shower.
I hated being in the hospital – I felt so isolated there and I missed sleeping next to my husband. Thankfully, my contractions got under control enough that my doctor was willing to release me to continue strict bed rest from home if I promised to be fully compliant. I was desperate to go home and I basically swore a blood oath that I would do whatever she told me to do as long as I got to get out of there.
I was much more comfortable at home, but being on strict bed rest for the next month was no picnic on the beach. Below is a list of tips that helped me (mostly) keep what I like to call the “bed rest crazies” at bay.
Set up different “bed stations” around your house or apartment. When your universe becomes a place to lie down and a place to use the bathroom, it’s good to at least change up the scenery a bit. My bed was my station for sleeping at night and my living room couch with lots of pillows configured just so was my station during waking hours. This helped me feel at least a little bit more normal because I wasn’t lying in my bed all day and all night.
Try to maintain a schedule. Again, the idea is to make things feel less weird and crazy by trying to incorporate parts of normal, sane, everyday life. Having a general schedule helped me organize my day and not get lost in some crazy bed rest vortex where everything is just a big blob of time. My schedule usually went like this:
8 am – wake up, go to the bathroom, take a quick shower;
8:10 am – do hair and makeup in bed;
8:30 am – move to couch, catch up on email, watch morning news;
9 am to 12 pm – work on projects (see more on projects below);
12 pm – lunch;1 to 3 pm – rest;
3 to 4 pm – talk on the phone to a family member or friend/have a visitor drop by;
4 to 6 pm – read/watch something/rest;
6 pm – dinner;
7 to 9:30 pm – visit with hubby;
9:30/10 pm – in bed for the night.
Have projects to work on. It’s easy to get bored and to feel unproductive when you’re on bed rest, so having some projects that you can work on from bed/couch can help. I was still doing some part-time work from home (try balancing a laptop on a ginormous pregnant belly – it’s interesting!), so this took up a lot of my project time, but I also worked on some personal writing, some knitting for the babies, and planning out the nursery.
Get housecleaning help. If you can afford it, I would recommend hiring someone to temporarily come and clean your house. We didn’t do this, but I think it would have helped a lot if we had. My husband was at work all day, then he would come home and pick up or make dinner for us, and then he would have to take care of maintaining the house on top of it all. He was a rock star and did a great job, but there were still things that got neglected because he couldn’t do it all.
It was difficult being stuck at home all the time and being able to see messes that I had no option of working on. This made me feel stressed out at times and thinking about bringing the babies home to a messy house also made me stressed out. Alternatively, if you have friends or family members nearby who are willing and wanting to help with cleaning, this is definitely an area that could be really helpful.