Tend to Yourself First

June 15th, 2009

I often travel alone with my children. Once we are all settled in our seats, I casually listen to the flight attendant’s safety instructions. I’ll never forget the first time that I REALLY heard a flight attendant say,

“If we experience a change in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will automatically drop down from the ceilings. Secure your own mask first before attempting to help children or other passengers with their masks.”

There I sat with my 3 1/2 year old daughter beside me and my infant son in my lap. The notion of not securing their masks first and saving them made me gasp for air-initially. Then, as I thought about it with a more rational mind it really made sense.

If the cabin lost pressure I would need to have my wits about me. My guess is that I would be panicked and that there would be widespread chaos within the plane. Letting my brain become oxygen depleted would only further complicate matters and would prevent me from my ultimate goal-saving my children. Yet if I secured my mask first, I’d have much needed oxygen traveling to my brain and, hopefully, be able to be focused and attend to the tasks at hand.

This little example is a reminder mamas on bed rest to tend to their own needs, both physical and emotional, before focusing on the needs of their unborn children. At this very tense time, it is very easy to become focused to the point of obsession on our babies. Yet is it important to remember, our babies will only be as healthy as we are.

Being on bed rest is a very vulnerable place. We cannot do for ourselves and must rely on others to help us meet our needs. Ask for help if and when you need it. Don’t be too proud to accept help from others. To successfully survive bed rest, women must make sure the following 4 parameters are met:

Well Balanced Nutrition – It’s imperative that women on bed rest eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean pieces of protein and whole grains. This will no only ensure adequate nutrition, but also will moderate weight gain and reduce such annoying problems such as constipation.

Physical stimulation – The additional fluid load of pregnancy, the ever enlarging uterus clamping down on leg blood vessels and then inactivity puts women on bed rest at risk for developing leg clots. Not only are the clots themselves a problem, but if they dislodge, they can travel to the lungs, heart or the brain and be fatal. Women on bed rest will also become de-conditioned as their muscles lose strength and tone from inactivity. Women should ask their obstetricians or midwives for exercises that are safe for them to do to maintain muscle tone and strength.

Rest – It would seem like there is nothing to do but rest while on prescribed bed rest. However, the stress of being on bed rest and the normal aches and pains of pregnancy often make resting difficult. Again, if you need help with your household duties, child care or other obligations, ASK! Many times family and friends are willing to help. Check for local businesses that may be able to provide services to help. Remember, worry releases stress hormones that in excess are not good for you nor your baby. Manage your obligations and your stress so that you can actually rest and nurture your baby.

Emotional – Finally, if you find that the worry and stress of having a high risk pregnancy are just too overwhelming, it may be time to get some professional help. Speak with a counselor or your pastoral staff. If you don’t know of a counselor in your area who deals with pregnancy issues, ask your obstetrician or midwife for a referral. Many people discount the emotional side of health. But our emotions can have strong effects on our physical health and need to be addressed.

Bed rest is hard, but you can survive. Just remember, the baby isn’t the only precious bundle in this equation. Without a healthy, happy mommy, there is little hope of a healthy, happy baby.

2 responses to “Tend to Yourself First”

  1. I was on bed rest during my last two pregnancies. Fortunately I am not on bed rest for this one. Thank you for sharing this great information!

  2. admin says:

    Congrats for not ending up on bed rest. The third time is a charm!

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