Mamas on Bedrest: It’s all comes down to this, “The Final Push”.

May 23rd, 2012

It’s that time of year again, the end of school. In only 4 short days my children will wind up the 2011-2012 school year and usher in the summer schedule.

This “transition time” is enough to kill us all! It started back in April with my daughter’s (major) school festival and fundraiser. It’s always a good time with bouncy houses, games, teacher dunking, face painting, (junk) food, candy, etc… It has been followed by numerous performances and recitals, track and field day, field trips, the festival at my son’s school and finally the pending last day festivities. My son is graduating from his Montessori School, so we’ll have a “Gates of Life ” ceremony his last day to commemorate sending him and his fellow “graduates” moving on to the next phase of their education.

As I contemplated all the recently flurry of activity, I couldn’t help noticing the similarity to the ending of bed rest and impending labor and delivery. My daughter is actively counting the days until school finishes. We are having more and more difficulty getting her to do that last bit of homework and get to bed on time. She’s tired. She wants to be finished. She’s had enough.

Mamas, can you relate? You have worked so diligently to grow a healthy baby. You’ve endured the many mind numbing days of bed rest. You’ve endured the aches and discomforts. You’ve submitted to the treatments;  the endless ultrasounds and the various shots. It’s all come down to this, “The Final Push”. Are you ready to just be done already?? While it’s tempting to just let everything flop along at this point, as I keep encouraging my daughter, it’s important to finish strong.

In this final push, just what is most important for Mamas on Bedrest to do in preparation for this next phase? We here at Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond have the following recommendations.

Rest. I know, you’ve been doing nothing BUT rest for the past um teen weeks! But seriously, rest now because once your baby arrives sleep is going to be a premium! Get as much good, restorative sleep as you can now, including naps. There is no telling how long or complicated your labor and delivery will be, but I can tell you that those first weeks and months home with baby are going to be a marathon. Rest up now.

Get a Massage. I know that I harp on this, but I truly believe that prenatal massage should be an essential tool in every woman’s prenatal care toolbox. But especially for mamas on bed rest, massage can help stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage (i.e. help get all the yucky stuff out of your system!), relieve aches and pains not only associated with pregnancy, but those additional aches and pains that have come as a result of bed rest. Massage will also stimulate your muscles which may have gone slack from being on bed rest.

Exercise. Again, I’m nudging that same sleeping dog. Once you go into labor, are induced or have that c-section, it’s going to be all hands on deck! As much as I advise mamas to ease back into activities gently, they always are so eager to get back to life that they dive right in. If you are going to dive in, let’s make sure “there’s some water in the pool”. You’ve likely not done any lifting, bending or significant walking for weeks. While muscles have memory, they are often like our mental memories, slow to kick in when they haven’t been accessed in a while. We provide many examples of stretches and exercises that mamas on bed rest can do on our Youtube page, on our blog and in our Bedrest Success Kit. The exercises are very modified, simple and gentle yet effective to “get things going”. If want a bit more, try our signature product, Bedrest Fitness.

Eat Well. This is no time to “pig out” on sweets and junk food! In our last blog post we discussed the importance of a healthy diet on pregnancy outcomes. Eating a healthy, nutritious diet will go far in fueling you for the marathon of labor and deliver and in those early days of “new mama-hood”.

Schedule Help. I can’t say enough how important it is to have help in those early days post partum. Your body goes through a lot to deliver a baby-regardless of whether its a vaginal delivery or a c-section. For Mamas on Bedrest, their body trauma is compounded by the weeks of bed rest. Ideally, if you can swing it, have someone or several people help you throughout those first 4-6 weeks post partum. Observe what the Chinese call “The Golden Month.” During this time, your major objective should be to recuperate, bond with your baby and establish breastfeeding-nothing else! Let someone else handle the laundry, meals and even care of your older children (I know, people have already been doing this and you don’t want to wear on their generosity. I get it. Still, you need to let your body transition back to normal. You need to recover and those early days post partum are the exact time in which you need to heal, recuperate and build up your strength to assume your family and household responsibilities. Begin too soon and you run the risk of injury and potentially, even more bed rest.

Time to Train. Ready for Labor and Delivery? Why not take a childbirthing class! One wonderful recommendation is Happy Birthways, an online childbirth education course provided by June Connell, Childbirth educator, doula and yoga instructor.  There are many wonderful childbirth education programs out there, and a few are listed on our Resource Page. Excited to breastfeed but not sure of the particulars? This is an amazing time to read up on breast feeding or to consult with a certified lactation consultant.

Now many of you will notice that I didn’t mention, “prepare the nursery, order more stuff or get more gear.” In those early days, all your baby really needs is you and dry diapers! As much as possible rest with your baby on your chest skin-to-skin. Your body heat is sufficient to keep your baby warm and the skin-to-skin contact is invaluable to baby’s well being (helps with soothing, sleeping and feeding!) Resting skin to skin also allows you and your baby to better establish breastfeeding. Easy access and frequent attempts leads to great success! Finally, a small cradle or bassinet is sufficient bedding for baby. I know that many mamas co-sleep and that is fine. But if that’s not your thing, a small sleeper right beside your bed is best.

How are you proceeding through “The Final Push”? Share your stories below.

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