Mamas on Bedrest: We Provide “Soft Support”

September 13th, 2013

Mamaonbedrest-on-the-phoneTGIF Mamas!!

Once again I had the opportunity to educate someone about bed rest and bed rest support. I was speaking with a woman and she asked me what I did. I explained that I support high risk pregnant women on prescribed bed rest. Like most people who have never intimately known a pregnant woman who has had to go on bed rest, she responded glibly,

“What’s so hard about that? I’d love to be home in bed!”

I know that I am speaking to the choir here, but bed rest is anything but restful! Pregnancy bed rest is long, hard, stressful work. Women prescribed bed rest during their pregnancies are fraught with fear and anxiety for themselves and their babies.

Let’s look at the facts. Some 750,000 American women annually are prescribed bed rest for a portion of their pregnancies. The intention of bed rest is to prolong the pregnancy so that delivery occurs as close to 39 weeks as possible. There are many reasons for the bed rest prescription including, cervical insufficiency (short cervix), pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, placenta previa, intrauterine growth retardation, gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension, multiples(twins or more) and others. While some women have medical history that may predispose them to preterm labor, the vast majority of mamas prescribed bed rest have no readily identifiable medical history that would indicate they’d experience complications during pregnancy. Likewise, most mamas have done nothing to bring about the complications they experience. In a nutsell, pregnancy complications just happen.

This is extremely frustrating for mamas who want answers. Why is this happening? What is wrong with her body? What could have been done to prevent the complication and the ensuing bed rest? What can a mama do now to make the situation better? Will this particular complication or others occur with subsequent pregnancies? Is a mama “once a Mama on Bedrest always a Mama on Bedrest?” These questions raise a mama’s anxiety, something that we don’t want at this very important juncture in her pregnancy.

Maternal Fetal medicine is great at monitoring the health and well being of mamas and babies experiencing complications during pregnancy. Historically, hospitals and physicians were not as good at managing the emotional or “soft side” of complicated pregnancies; i.e. the emotional strain, the stress on the family dynamics, the financial woes and other “psychosocial” aspects of bed rest. Increasingly, hospitals and health care professionals are taking pyschosocial issues into consideration when managing Mamas on Bedrest, but there is still much work to be done. And while the March of Dimes is on the forefront of addressing the emotional and behavioral needs of Mamas on Bedrest in the Hospital, Mamas on Bedrest at home and the needs of their families continue to be set aside. In our very mobile world, Mamas on Bedrest seldom live near family and often don’t have a strong community support system. This further increases mama’s stress and anxiety and potentially puts her health and the health of her unborn baby at risk. It is no small matter when a Mama on Bedrest is concerned about her existing child’s safety coming home from school gets up to retrieve the child because she has no one to meet and escort the child for her.  Some will judge her harshly, stating that she is putting the life of her unborn child at risk. But what of the health and well being of her existing child? What mother can choose?

Husbands of Mamas on Bedrest often take on (or try to take on) the work of their spouses in addition to their full time jobs. While this is admirable, it is often not optimal and can result in stress and strain within the family and for the couple.

Then there is the emotional strain which often manifests in depression. Depression is never good for a pregnant mama-on bed rest or not-and providing support and comfort is essential.

So yes, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond provides “soft support” to Mamas on Bedrest. We don’t provide medical care or advice. We don’t really focus on Mama’s physical health at all, leaving that to licensed health care professionals. We help mama navigate bed rest emotionally, offer tools and tips to help Mama and her family nagivate bed rest and provide Mamas on Bedrest with a community of people, other mamas, who know exactly what she is going through! Soft support? Maybe. Substantial support? Absolutely!

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