I’ve been wondering, How are you holding on while on Bed Rest? How are you finding the bliss and blessings of Bed Rest?
Pregnancy in and of itself is a time of intense change. Your body is changing in ways that you cannot even imagine all the while creating a wholly new and completely perfect little being. When I stop to contemplate the absolute majesty that is childbirth, I am overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what is really taking place. It is truly magnificent indeed.
But for those of us for whom the journey has had some “road humps”, the rays of magnificence have been dimmed a bit. We are worried-for ourselves and our babies and praying for Divine blessing that our little loves will arrive healthy, happy and complete. It is often hard to find the joy, the blessings and the bliss that was once our pregnancies, yet it is essential to do so.
Bed Rest is prescribed so that preterm labor (labor before 37 weeks of gestation) and preterm birth are avoided. But the very bed rest prescription itself is a stressor, as is often evidenced by the decrease in cervical length in mamas put on bed rest for cervical insufficiency. In an uncomplicated pregnancy as delivery is imminent, the cervix will begin to soften and shorten (ripen) in anticipation of the passage of the infant. I won’t go into all of the details, but in short summary, chemicals are released from the brain and adrenal glands that act on the cervix to “ripen” it in preparation for birth. Unfortunately, these chemicals can be released at other times, most notably in response to inflammation and stress. Kathleen Kendall Tackett, PhD has studied this association extensively and wrote a really nice, readable article about it on the La Leche League website. Since the cervix cannot discern whether or not the chemicals are being released due to impending labor, a stress reaction or inflammation, it has no choice but to react in the only way that it knows how-by “ripening” and preparing for birth-even if it’s not time.
So what can mamas do? I in no way want to imply that cervical insufficiency, that is cervical ripening before the appropriate time for labor and delivery, is in any way a mama’s fault. However, I do want to say that mamas can help themselves and their babies when cervical insufficiency occurs by remaining calm and as stress free as possible. Stress is one of the major reasons that cervical insufficiency occurs. When we are stressed, our body goes into the “fight or flight” response, releasing brain chemicals and adrenal hormones in preparation for “battle”. As previously stated, these chemicals soften the cervix and prepare it for the passage of the baby. Sometimes we are not even aware that we are stressed; we may call it being “busy” or “worried”. But the response is the same.
So again, how can mamas remain calm and really “rest” while on Bedrest?
- Join our Facebook Community. We are now 500 strong and growing every day! Our community is all about support and sharing ideas, tips and tools for surviving bed rest and delivering healthy babies. Also, as previously stated in recent blog posts, community or being in community has been found to be a potent predictor for pregnancy outcomes. Women in community and with a strong support system fare better and seem to have a lower risk of complications than do women who are isolated and have limited support.
- Participate in Mamas Bookclub. We started a book club last fall and this month’s read is Girl Gone by Gillian Flynn. It is a suspense thriller about a woman who goes missing and how her husband is the suspect in her disappearance. We are scheduled to discuss the book on the facebook page the week of January 21, 2013. (Yikes, I’d better get reading!)
- Mama’s Meditation. Root Mama Freya Morani holds a weekly meditation for mamas on Saturday mornings, 9:30 am – 9:50 am Central Time. Here is the description,
- “Join us for a free guided meditation call designed just for pregnant women. Mama’s Meditation will provide relaxation tools, breathing techniques and practical tips every Saturday at 9:30 am Central. Find a quiet place in your home, brew a nice cup of tea, and call-in to participate in a relaxing meditation call.”
Relax and Enjoy Mamas and know that all is as it should be!
Something about spring makes me think of preparation. Spring is definitely a time of new beginnings and for mamas getting ready to give birth, they are most certainly preparing for a new beginning-into a whole new stage of their lives!
Preparing for the pending birth of a baby can be a bit different for a mama on bed rest, but most certainly no less important. While mamas having uncomplicated pregnancies may be doing last minute shopping, finishing up tasks at work and handing off assignments to co-workers before going on maternity leave, preparing the nursery, attending hospital tours and childbirth classes, mamas on bed rest are often restricted in their abilities to prepare for the addition to their families. Those with family and friends close by may in fact have a baby shower and have help preparing their nurseries. Because of their bed rest status, work is often a long gone event-one they hope to get back to after the baby is born. But its the individual preparation, the childbirth education that I find most mamas on bed rest lack.
In this age of the internet, mamas on bed rest need not go without the vital childbirthing information that they need. There are literally hundreds of programs available, locally and online, that can prepare mamas for their childbirth experience. We share just a smattering of them here.
Doulas and Birth Attendants. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really wish that I had had a doula at my first birth. While I don’t believe that she would have prevented anything that happened with me or my baby, I think that having a skilled attendant to help my husband and I while things were coming completely unhinged would have been great.
Doulas are often that impartial third party that can help mamas maintain their focus and confidence, help calm spouses and partners so that they can provide support to a laboring mama and they can act as a bridge between the health care providers and mama when she cannot necessarily speak up for herself. There are lots of doula resources but two of the most widely known are Doulas of North America (DONA) and The Childbirth and Post Partum Professional Association (CAPPA). While they both offer training and educational resources they also list their members and mamas can find a doula in their area to assist them. The International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) is another great doula resource especially for mamas of color.
Lamaze International. Lamaze promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to childbirth and early parenting. They offer childbirth education classes and support for families as well as education and training for health care professionals. Lamaze education and practices are based on the best, most current medical evidence available. They can help reduce the use of unnecessary interventions and improve overall outcomes for mothers and babies. The Lamaze Safe Birth Practices were adapted from the World Health Organization and promote, protect and support natural, safe and healthy birth. The 6 healthy birth practices are:
- Let Labor Begin on Its Own
- Walk, Move Around, and Change Positions Throughout Labor
- Bring a Loved One, Friend, or Doula for Continuous Support
- Avoid Interventions That Are Not Medically Necessary
- Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back, and Follow Your Body’s Urges to Push
- Keep Mother and Baby Together – It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding
The Bradley Method. The Bradley Method “stresses the importance of Healthy Baby, Healthy Mother and Healthy Families”. By taking classes in The Bradley Method® of natural childbirth, mamas and papas will learn about:
- Prenatal nutrition & exercise
- Relaxation for an easier birth
- Husbands as coaches
- Birth plans and more!
Hypnobirthing.The Mongan Method used is a unique method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques.
Mamas, pain, fear and lots of sterile instruments don’t have to be your memories of your child’s birth. Find out your options for labor and delivery. Find out who can be with you, who can assist with the birth and what you can do in advance to be prepared and as calm and in control of your body as possible. The above childbirth methods (and so many more!!) are available to help you have a stress free and reasonably pain free labor and delivery. Many of the above organizations and services offer online courses and some educators even make house calls! Find out your options and educate yourself today!
If you know of another effective method of childbirth, please share it with us at email@example.com so that we may share it with other mamas. Check out our resources page for other resources on pregnancy, health and maternal and infant well being.
Mamas on Bedrest: Pain Management in Labor-Medical vs Non-Medical Therapies, A Review of the EvidenceMarch 19th, 2012
Bedrest Coach Darline Turner-Lee takes a look at a literature review, “Pain Management for Women in Labour: An Overview of Systematic Reviews”. In the review, researchers evaluated several studies in the Cochrane Review to looked at the efficacy of epidural and opiod pain management during labor vs non-medical pain management such as relaxation, biofeedback, acupuncture, water immersion, hypnosis and others.
What researchers found is that while epidurals and opiod medications do effectively manage pain, side effects included more instrumentation during vaginal births, more cesarean sections for fetal distress, low blood pressure, more prolonged leg numbness, fever and urinary retention. Women who received inhaled analgesia were more likely to experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness and in some cases itching. Such adverse results were not experienced with the alternative pain management methods and women reported feeling more in control and more satisfaction with their childbirth experience when alternative pain management methods were used.
Bedrest Coach Darline Turner-Lee reiterates as she reviews this data that women who wish to utilize an alternative form of pain management should discuss their plans with their health care provider. They should not simply assume that the alternative method is less effective and only consider medical pain management. This study does not say this! She also suggests that women consider using multiple forms of pain management, i.e. relaxation/biofeedback in addition to an epidural. Regardless of the method of pain management employed, women should be well informed about as many pain methods as possible to make a wise choice for their pain management needs. And whatever pain method a woman chooses for labor and delivery, she should be adequately educated about the method and train with a skilled practitioner.
Jones L, Othman M, Dowswell T, Alfirevic Z, Gates S, Newburn M, Jordan S, Lavender T, Neilson JP. Pain management for women in labour: an overview of systematic reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD009234. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009234.pub2.