Are you getting the nutrition you need? As many of you settle into your bed rest routines, it can be very easy to skip meals (especially breakfast! Don’t do it!!!), snack a lot and give into many of those crazy cravings as a way to soothe your “sorrow” over your bed rest experience. I want to reiterate, this is no time to be slack with your nutrition! Mamas on Bedrest are at increased risk of insufficient weight gain and low birth weight infants. Because Mamas on Bedrest are physically inactive and confined to bed, they are less apt to take in some essential nutrients like Vitamin D (Vitamin D is manufactured in your body by converting the suns rays along with Cholesterol into the vitamin) and they may require additional Calcium to not only support the pregnancy, but to support mama’s bones as she is not able to do any weight bearing exercise (even walking with a light grocery bag is load bearing exercise!) during pregnancy.
As always, it is best to receive necessary nutrients from a well balanced, nutrient dense diet. Karimums, an Australian support website for mamas, has provided the following infographic which outlines the necessary nutrients and amounts needed to sustain a healthy pregnancy. The infographic also shows the foods that can help meet these nutritional needs. Here is a copy of the info graphic:
And while this infographic is a great reminder of the nutritional needs of pregnant mamas, it also shows that it may be difficult to consume enough foods to take in the necessary nutrients. Hence, I want to reiterate the vital importance of prenatal vitamins. This is always a controversial topic, but one of vital importance. One look at this infographic and a mama on bedrest may say to herself, “There is no way that I can eat 18 cups of raw spinach a day! While this may be true (and we don’t want to discourage mama from eating spinach at all!!) mama still needs the folic acid, and taking a pharmaceutical grade prenatal vitamin will enable mama to get the vital nutrition she and her baby need without having to consume an entire spinach garden daily!
I want to add a note about prenatal nutrition here. Nature has designed it so that when a woman becomes pregnant, the first nutrients that are available to her body are directed towards the baby for its growth and development. Ideally, a woman is taking in enough nutrient foods to support herself and her baby. But if mama happens to be deficient, let’s say, in calcium, when her body takes in calcium it is first directed to the growing baby and any left over is then used to sustain mama. So if a woman is calcium deficient or not taking in enough calcium to sustain both herself and her baby, she will suffer. To this end, I have personally seen women develop cavities during pregnancy (Calcium aids in good dental health!) and in an extreme case, a woman was osteopenic (had low bone mass density) after her pregnancy.
Mamas, eat well. Use the infographic above to fortify your diet. If you are not already taking a high grade prenatal vitamin, discuss with your health care provider if you need prenatal vitamins and which ones might be best for you. E-mail email@example.com and we can share with you pharmaceutical grade prenatal vitamins that will supply the nutrients your body needs to serve you and your baby! Also, check out “From Mamas to Mamas: The Essential Guide to Surviving Bedrest” as we have an entire section dedicated to prenatal nutrition and vitamins! Download your copy now from Amazon.com!
TGIF and Happy Memorial Day weekend! This weekend marks the official start of summer in many areas of the northerm hemisphere. As promised, below you will find resources for taking great care of your legs to prevent blood clots from forming while on bed rest. I am giving a HUGE shout out to Mama on Bedrest Sarah for posing the following question to me on our community Facebook Page:
“Any suggestions as alternatives for compression stockings? I can’t do anything that increases abdominal pressure but can’t afford the compression stockings. I do get up several times a day but only to get water and use the bathroom. But I’m still worried about dvt.”
This is a FANTASTIC question and one that all Mamas on Bedrest should be concerned about. Pregnancy in and of itself increases a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot in her legs due to elevated levels of estrogen which enhance blood clotting. (Same thing they worry about when women are on the pill!) Add in bed rest inactivity and Mamas on Bedrest are prime candidates for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots to form in the legs and then travel to the heart, lungs or brain to do deadly damage.
Sarah was prescribed compression stockings and that is an excellent recommendation-except they are expensive. Compression stockings can cost anywhere from about $80 on up. They are typically only available by prescription. So what is Sarah and other Mamas like her to do?
1. Exercises. I produced an entire video blog showing how to do leg exercises on bed rest as well as how to massage the lower legs.
2. Massage. While rubbing your own legs is good, Oh much better it feels to have someone do it for you! If your partner is willing, have him/her gently massage your lower legs. (see vlog for details). If you have access to a prenatal massage therapist in your area, or a really good massage therapist who knows lymphatic drainage techniques, a professional massage would be even better!
3. Support hose. Now I can’t speak for other areas of the country, but it is heating up here in Texas and the thought of wearing compression stockings or even support hose is daunting. However, if they are lifesaving-what’s a bit of heat? Sarah mentioned that she could not afford the compression stockings. However, she could do the next best things and wear support hose. These do place a bit of a squeeze on the legs, but not nearly the amount of pressure Compression stockings do. Hence, they are cheaper. Good brands that I know of are Gold Toe and Jobst. I highly recommend ordering products from Special Addition Maternity and Nursing boutique here in Austin if you can’t find products in your locale. They have an entire online shop and you can actually call and they can help you get fitted OVER THE PHONE!!! They can tell you (or a friend or family member) how to measure your legs and then help you select products that will suit your needs and purse!
4. Drink plenty of water. Contrary to what you may be thinking, Staying hydrated will actually help reduce swelling. You body won’t feel like it needs water and hold onto water so tightly (i.e. swell). Also, lowering or avoiding salt altogether is also helpful.
5. Make sure your prenatal supplements are really working for you and your legs in particular. Leg cramps, restless legs and blood clots are all very common during pregnancy. When you have the proper balance of vitamins and minerals in your diet, you are less likely to experience these leg problems or you will experience them to a lesser degree. To avoid leg cramps, restless leg syndrome and blood clots, make sure you have plenty of the following nutrients in your diet:
Calcium. Calcium aids in muscle relaxation allowing certain molecules into your muscle tissue.
Magnesium. Like Calcium, magnesium also aids in muscle relaxation and works in concert with Calcium. Many vitamins will include both minerals either in a 2 to l ratio (Calcium to Magnesium) or will have the minerals present in equal amounts.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption as well as decreases overall inflammation that may be occurring. While many prenatal vitamins contain vitamin D, few if any meet the newly suggested requirements of up to 4000IU recommended by the March of Dimes and the Institute of Medicine for pregnant women.
Fish Oils-Fish oils contain essential Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids which help prevent blood clots. However, if you have any sort of clotting disorder or bleeding disorder, you may need to avoid this supplement. Check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you to take fish oils.
Was this information helpful to you? If so, let me know in the comments section below. Do you have other tips and solutions to leg problems during pregnancy? Submit those in the comments section below as well. If you have specific questions, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to discuss more, you can schedule a Complimentary 30min Bedrest Breakthrough session.
Be well Mamas and Happy Memorial Day (In the US!!)
“I lost my first child at 23 weeks due to an icompetent cervix. I am now 6 weeks pregnant and will have a cerclage at 12 weeks, not sure how much bed rest the doctor will prescribe, but l am very hopeful that the cerclage will let me carry to 37+ weeks.”
I am always so excited for mamas when I get these messages. Having lost a pregnancy prior to having each of my children, I can hear the trepidation in Cate’s voice as she “hopes” she’ll make it to 37+ weeks (and most of all come home with a healthy baby!) But what’s a mama to do? At 6 weeks along and with a history of a miscarriage, you don’t really want to go broadcasting your pregnancy. Yet it is at this critical time that you need support to wait those long, agonizing, 6 weeks more to cerclage, then onto bed rest for what may be the bulk of your pregnancy. This conundrum plagues many a mama. What’s a mama to do when she doesn’t know what to do? I say, take the situation in bite sized chunks. Here’s how.
Chunk #1-6 weeks to 12 weeks. In this first “chunk” you’re waiting to see if the pregnancy will hold on to the cerclage. On top of that, you may be dealing with morning (or all day!) sickness, fatigue and general malaise. During this chunk your mission (should you decide to accept it) is exquisite self care. This is the time to give your body all the rest that it needs. As your body forms and develops your baby, it is expending a tremendous amount of energy. Daily naps will be a must-whether you want to take them or not! Most mamas in this stage find that their bodies simply “clock out” mid-late afternoon, so if at all possible, see if you can somehow arrange at least an hour of rest during the day. If you have not already begun taking prenatal vitamins begin doing so (and I can recommend an awesome prenatal vitamin if you don’t already have one!). Pay super attention to your diet and do your best to eliminate the fatty, sugary and processed foods. (Your body may already be restricting what you can eat. If this is the case, get down what you can and do your best to make it as nutrient dense as possible!) And because this is such a stressful scenario, get support. I’m going for shameless self promotion here-Get thee to the Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond Facebook Community! It’s free, you don’t have to be invited and the community is full of mamas at all stages of pregnancy and bed rest who have gone before you, know exactly what you are going through and can offer better tips and support than any doctor or social worker! Visit often, chat it up, ask questions. Share your journey so that we can support you, cheer you on in the good times and lift you up when you’re down.
Chunk #2-12-approximately 20 weeks. In this chunk of time, you get your cerclage and have a few weeks of feeling pretty good before being prescribed bed rest. Typically the morning sickness has subsided and you are able to eat a more balanced, nutrient dense diet. The fatigue has mostly subsided as well. While you may not be showing, mamas who make it to this point often feel a real sense of accomplishment and begin telling friends, family members and co-workers that they are pregnant.
If you haven’t already, begin telling friends and family members your situation and start garnering support. If possible, set up a care and visitation calendar for when you are on bedrest so that you can not only have help for your family (partner) but also a regular stream of visitors to help pass the time and keep your spirits up. Talk with your employer’s human resources department as you may be eligible for some paid maternity leave. This will depend on the state you live in and the generosity of your employer! Learn what you are entitled to from your company and get any necessary documentation into the proper representatives. Get your affairs in order so that while you are temporarily “sidelined” your “life” will proceed as smoothly as possible. You may want to prepare some meals and put them in the freezer, pay up bills or at least get them onto online accounts, gather items you may want/need while on bed rest; extra pillows (a body pillow is a must!!), small bedside table, a small refrigerator or cooler for your bed room, a movie subscription, books or e-reader subscription, craft items and wifi so that you can keep up with the other Mamas on Bedrest!
Chunk #3-The Bedrest Prescription: 18-20 weeks. This usually comes somewhere around 18 -20 weeks, but I have seen women go as long as 22-24 weeks before being put to bed. The first few days to weeks are bearable, but for many women, as early as 2 weeks gets them feeling antsy. This is the time to put that care calendar to the test. Have that list of family members and friends handy and initiate that visitors schedule. Spend time online speaking with other women on bed rest. You may also want to start a blog or other memory marker to chronicle this journey and later share with your baby.
Chunk #4-20-26 weeks. This is the next big hurdle. If you can make it to 26 weeks, if you were to deliver, although small, your baby will have a fairly good chance of survival. He/she will spend a long time in the NICU, but they can survive. This is the first bed rest milestone to attain. How to get here? Great books, movies (netflicks or Amazon instant videos are lifesavers!), craft projects help pass the time. When you get to 26 weeks, be sure to celebrate with your mama friends online.
Chunk #5-26-28 weeks. 28 weeks is the next big marker. 28 weeks marks the onset of the third trimester. If you make it to 28 weeks, your baby is even stronger and more likely to survive should you go into preterm labor. Celebrate this important milestone-with your online community and with family and friends.
Chunk #6-28-32 weeks. The next big marker is 32 weeks. Again, the further along you go in the pregnancy, the better for the baby. Start winding up your projects as your bed rest time is drawing to a close.
Chunk #7-32-36 weeks 6 days. You may be thoroughly sick of bed rest by now, but getting this far along is a HUGE accomplishment! Your baby is growing and growing and his/her little organs are getting stronger and stronger. You may have your cerclage removed and the bedrest restriction lifted as most babies born after this point do well. But of course, The longer they stay in you, the less time they’ll need to spend in the NICU. If your baby is delivered during this time period, there are a few things you should know. If you are released from bed rest, “get your nesting on” as your little one will be coming any day!
Chunk #8-37+ weeks. Mama, you got this!! You have done an AMAZING FEAT!!! Your baby is “term” and has excellent chances of survival and excellent chances of having few if any complications. Barring any unforseen complications, all should be well! Congratulations Mama! Well done!!
If you found this “Bedrest in Chunks” approach helpful, tell us so in the comments section below. Did we miss something? Leave something out? Tell us that as well. Got a Question? Need more information about a great prenatal vitamin or other recommendation? e-mail us at email@example.com.