child care

When Mommy’s on Bedrest

September 15th, 2010

Recently I posted a survey to see what issues are important to mamas on bed rest. As one may assume from our recent blog posts, finances are a huge hurdle to mamas on bed rest and their families. In fact, finances and financial concerns were the number one concern of mamas on bed rest. The loss of income, the lack of paid maternity leave and the fear of losing one’s job had many mamas on bed rest doing anything but resting. But coming in a not too distant second was concern for existing children.

One of the survey respondents was terribly upset that when she called the school department and explained her situation, they were unwilling to allow her daughter’s school bus to drive her daughter about 100 yards closer to her house for drop off. As a result, this mama on bed rest got up every day to meet her daughter at the school bus. Sadly this mama had no other options and no one to help her by meeting her daughter at the bus each day. This was just a bad situation all around-for mama, the unborn baby and quite frankly for the school aged child who would have likely felt terribly if something had happened to her mom or the baby.

One thing we all have to keep in mind is that when a mama goes on bed rest, it’s not only mama who is impacted.  Bed rest impacts mama’s entire family and many children have difficulty understanding why mama is in bed and not available to help them. Regarding this woman in the survey, I am sure that her school aged daughter had a much better understanding of the situation than say a three year old would. But still, the normal routine has been upset and everyone has to adapt. So what can mama do to help her children navigate through her bed rest?

For younger children, from about 2-10 years, I have found two really great books that help explain that mama is having an baby and needs to rest. The first is called Mommy Has to Stay in Bed*and it’s by Annette Rivlin-Gutman. In this story, the mama and little girl find creative ways to beat bed rest boredom and create some special memories.

Another book that I really thought was cute is And Mommy’s on Her Left Side* by Heidi Travis.  (I think that I am drawn to this book because the characters are bears and my children are much more attached to bears and stuffed animals!) It is a really cute story that shows how the bear family dealt with mama bear’s bed rest.

I think the main thing that Mamas on Bedrest need to do with their children is to be honest and forthcoming with information. So often our gut instinct is to try and shield our children from things. But if you’re on bed rest, you can’t really hide all the facts from your children. They know something is wrong. Try these simple tips:

  • Be honest and upfront with what is going on. Share as much about your situation that you feel comfortable sharing.
  • Use age appropriate language. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised.
  • Allow your children to ask you questions and answer as honestly as you can.
  • To that end, if they ask if you and/or the baby is going to die, (kids don’t pull punches) explain that the doctor is doing all that they can so that doesn’t happen and being in bed is the best way to prevent that.

Once you are all clear on the situation, let your children be involved and help.

  • Give them some tasks that they can do to help. Older children can help out around the house.
  • Establish daily rituals (help with homework, read stories, talk to the baby, cuddle time)
  • Let them comfort you. Children are so loving. Let them love and comfort you.

Bed rest can really present some logistical challenges to a family but it need not completely dismantle a family. With open communication and a lot of patience  everyone will come through it just fine.

What are (were) some of your favorite activities you do with your children while on bed rest? Please share your comments in our comment section. And don’t forget to sign up for our RSS feed to receive the Mamas on Bedrest Blog regularly.

*The information presented on this blog is free. We do ask that if you decide to purchase either of the recommended books, you do so through the Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond website store. Your purchase helps us keep the website up and going. Thanks.