Mamas on Bedrest: How I Survived “Modified Activity” with a 3 year old.

October 28th, 2013

Hi Mamas,

I have had so many mamas asking, “How am I supposed to be on bed rest when I have a toddler/child to care for?”


My daughter and I when I was pregnant with my son. I was about 24 weeks here, before the bedrest talks.

This suggestion was really strange to me. My pregnancy with my son was the complete antithesis of my pregnancy with my daughter. I wasn’t sick all the time. I was able to eat most anything as opposed to the 10 food items I could hold down with my daughter. Other than being exhausted and enormous, I actually felt okay. But my history was enough to put the fear of God into any OB. I miscarried my first pregnancy in 2001 at 6 weeks. I had surgery to remove uterine fibroids and carry a pregnancy to term. I immediately became pregnant with my daughter and immediately started having “all day sickness” all 9 months of my pregnancy. I spotted twice during the pregnancy and I thought I was going to lose my daugther. I went into labor with my daughter at 36 weeks and 6 days and because I didn’t realize I was in labor until I was contracting every 5 minutes, there was no stopping iminent delivery. I had an emergency c-section to deliver my daughter and she struggled to breathe and I hemorrhaged. I miscarried my 3rd pregnancy and was 40 by the time I was pregnant with my son. So yes, I understand wanting to “prevent” any untoward events, but putting me to bed without any “real” indication when I had a 3 year old to care for didn’t make sense to me.

My children’s father was working out of town then. My family was some 2000 miles away. I was on my own with my daughter.  So I worked out an agreement with my OB. Since I wasn’t having contractions, spotting or any other signs of preterm labor, I agreed to have office visits every 2 weeks early on, somewhere in the second trimester. I also had several extra ultrasounds. We agreed to “modified activity”.

Modified Activity meant no heavy lifting and that included picking up my daughter. It also meant no strenuous activity, so I had to stop teaching my prenatal fitness classes. I have to admit that while I was moving around the house and able to drive around town (no long distance travel for me!), I basically sat around the house, which actually worked because I was soooo tired! When I had my daughter, this is how I modified my activities:

  • Only driving her to preschool and to the grocery story and in my immediate neighborhood (about a 10 mile radius). Only a very few items per grocery bag
  • Having my daughter stand in the shower while I sat on a stool and washed her
  • I had to nap daily. So she watched 2 videos (mostly Elmo, thank god for that little fury friend) that enabled me to snooze for 1.5-2 hours daily  with her on the sofa beside me.
  • I often had her sleep in the bed with me so if I did have to be up with her (she had severe asthma as a child), she was right there
  • I kept lots of quick snacks and meals (microwaveable) handy
  • When I did laundry, I would use my foot to push the basket down the hall while my daughter would pull. Not optimum but we made it work
  • My neighbor down the street was also pregnant and had some difficulties. Before she was put on bed rest, we would walk the 1/2 block to the play scape and our kids would play while we sat on the benches. She was 6 months ahead of me, so I often took the kids by myself while she rested. After she had her son, my situation became more “precarious”, so she often took all 3 kids to the playscape while I rested.
  • As my due date approached, my parents came to visit as did my sister. My sister was actually in the delivery room with me when I had my son. (A much better “birth attendant/coach” then my children’s father!)

Now I realize the my situation was much less severe than most of you. I was on more of a “house arrest” than bed rest. But the ways to modify activities are the same. My daughter and I read lots of books, played lots of toys and games on the sofa and on my bed! I stayed down as much as I could.

For those of you on strict bed rest without family or a strong community, I would suggest getting a helper. Check the local colleges as many college students are willing to help out, are very flexible with their schedules, and tend to be pretty inexpensive. If you need more structure, you can hire a nanny or here we had “Hire a Granny” and these lovely grandmas would come and help out at very reasonable prices. (Great business idea!!) Otherwise, have your partner or someone else prepare meals, snacks and get everything else done before going to work and you basically make your bed command central. You will need:

  • TV with remote and DVD/DVR player
  • Computer/laptop to interact with Mamas on Bedrest!!
  • phone
  • snacks
  • books
  • Lots of games, toys, puzzles, crafts and fun things to do with your little one.
  • crosswords, sudoku, wordfinds, etc…for you
  • clear path to the bathroom or a bedside commode
  • comfortable clothes, lotion, comb/brush

What are your tips for surviving bed rest with an older child? Please share your comments in the comments section below!!

One response to “Mamas on Bedrest: How I Survived “Modified Activity” with a 3 year old.”

  1. […] this might mean having your kids watch TV more often than you otherwise would or creating meals that will be easy to make and save. The main focus for you right now is taking care of yourself and taking care of your kids. […]

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