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Mamas on Bedrest: When Your Legs Won’t Rest

June 17th, 2013

Restless Leg Syndrome, involuntary twitching and tingling in the legs, can be a problem during pregnancy and a particular problem for Mamas on Bedrest. The increased weight as a result of pregnancy and the increased stress on the circulatory system are the major reasons that the symptoms occur. Restless Leg Syndrome is primarily relieved by changing positions and/or getting up and moving around-both options that are limited or non-existent for Mamas on Bedrest. Conditions such as pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia often require that Mamas on Bedrest lay on their left sides to increase blood flow back to the heart from the lower extremities, relieving stress on the circulatory system. With this requirement, leg discomfort may be exacerbated with few options for relief. Restless Leg Syndrome can progress and become quite uncomfortable, limiting Mamas’ ability to rest. So how can Mamas on Bedrest manage this non-life-threatening but very annoying problem?

Massage. As previously stated in other posts, prenatal massage is an excellent way for mamas to relax tired, aching muscles during pregnancy. Because of the additional weight, mamas’ bodies shift to accommodate the weight and as a result, the musculoskeletal system shifts out of alignment creating stress on muscles, ligaments and tendons. Prenatal massage therapists are able to rub and soothe these tired, achy tissues and relieve tension, fatigue and pain.

Relaxation. Meditation, hypnosis and deep breathing can also help relieve the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Calming the nervous system, relaxing the mind and relieving worry, stress and anxiety often relieve the tingling and twitching associated with restless leg syndrome.

Support your legs. Adequate support and positioning will go far to relieve leg pain and restless leg syndrome.  A Must have for Mamas on Bedrest is a Body Pillow, and positioning that pillow to properly support and align Mama’s body is essential. View our video on pillow positioning for a better bed rest.

Stretch. As previously stated, movement is essential to helping relieve symptoms of restless leg syndrome, yet movement for Mamas on Bedrest is limited. There are several simple stretches that mamas can do while on bed rest and we provide them on our free video channel for easy access.

Water. One reason that leg cramps and other symptoms of restless leg syndrome occur is due to dehydration. Adequate water intake is a must for all pregnant women, but especially for pregnant women with restless leg syndrome. Adequate hydration ensures that circulation flows that muscles and soft tissues are well lubricated and that muscle wastes are properly flushed away. But staying hydrated can present an additional problem for Mamas on Bedrest in that the increased fluid intake will result in increased urination. Many mamas try to limit fluid intake which only increases leg cramps, symptoms of restless leg syndrome and can increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Its a delicate balance, but mamas, be sure to drink plenty of water while on bed rest.

Vitamins and Minerals. Most pregnant women are prescribed prenatal vitamins, but many of these vitamins only provide the minimum amounts of vital nutrients necessary to sustain pregnancy and mama and baby may need more. There have recently been several studies and articles published documenting the functional amounts of vitamins and nutrients that are needed to ensure that mama is getting all that she needs to remain healthy, for healthy development of the fetus and to sustain the pregnancy. Mamas with restless leg syndrome may be low on potassium or calcium. While it is not advised that mamas take mega doses of vitamins, ensuring that there is adequate, functional levels of vitamins and minerals will help prevent some of the twitching and discomfort of restless leg syndrome. In addition to prenatal vitamins, mamas may want to add or increase bananas-a good source of potassium-and calcium fortified orange juice and green leafy vegetable (also good sources of calcium) to their diets.

Restless Leg Syndrome can be an annoyance, but it needn’t incapacitate Mamas on Bedrest. Implementing the few tips above can go along way to relief and a bed rest free from leg cramps, twitching and tingling. 

 

Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond would like to thank Tammy Mahan, a contributing writer to Healthline.com, for sharing the perils and pearls of Restless Leg Syndrome with us.

Mamas on Bedrest: What to do when you’ve done all you can do?

June 6th, 2012

I’m reaching the end of my rope. I am here in Boston preparing for what I intend to be a relocation for my family here.  I’m checking out schools, neighborhoods, extracurriculars for the kids…It’s a lot and totally worth it. But I’m tired.

It’s been a great experience and at the same time a frustrating one. There are so many unknown elements that it’s hard to be able to make firm decisions. Do I find the school that I like best first and then the home or vice versa? What of our home in Texas (not yet listed)? The job situation is great, many great opportunities, yet still not sure which is the best option. For profit or non-profit? The public or private health sector??  I’m becoming overwhelmed with all of the variables and yet, decisions need to be made. People have been more than generous with their time and resources and in many ways, I feel no closer to firm decisions than when I started.

This time so reminds me of when I was having my children. Each time I faithfully attended my prenatal visits, followed my OBs instructions, and then I’d just wait. It was all that I could do. With my daughter, I was so nervous. I had had several “scares” and with each flutter or twinge I worried that something else was going wrong. Although she came at 36 weeks and 6 days, it was somewhat of a relief to finally see her, hold her, to know that she made it and that it all turned out okay. I felt similarly with my son. I was a mama very relieved to have her kiddos on the outside, safe, healthy and where I could see and touch them. Everything wrapped up all nice and neat, all my ducks in a row.

But sometimes life just isn’t neat and tidy and we have to take each day at a time on faith-one step at a time. I am the first to admit that these times completely “wig out” this list making, uber planning, got it all under control mama. I don’t like surprises. I don’t like the unknown. I have been known to take risks, but to be sure, these risks are very calculated and for the most part, with predictable outcomes. So being here in Boston now, with no idea where I am going to live, no idea which school my children will attend in the fall, no idea in what direction I will take my busines has got my hair standing on end.

So what do you do when you’ve done all you can do?

We all handle stress in different ways, but the operative phrase is “handle it”. For mamas on bedrest, the stressors may be myriad, but they must be handled so that you can relax and grow your baby. Below are 5 common issues that arise when a mama is on bed rest and here are a few things that you can do if you don’t know what to do.

1. For Isolation, get thee plugged into a bed rest community. While friends and family are great, nothing really takes the place of communing with folks who really know what you are talking about and going through. I cannot recommend the forum on www.keepemcookin.com enough. You can communicate with other mamas on bed rest If you are a more private person, I recommend the individual support of www.sidelines.org and www.betterbedrest.org

2. Got anxiety? Speak with a health care professional. Mamas on Bedrest are up to 8 times more likely to develop perinatal mood disorders such as worry, anxiety and depression. While worry and anxiety are not uncommon, it is not necessarily normal and it most certainly isn’t good for mamas on bed rest. If you find yourself consumed with worry, anxiety or feeling depressed, tell your health care provider and get a referral to a mental health professional. Early intervention can prevent more serious problems later on.

3. Body aching? Get a massage! I’ve said it before, I believe that regular massages should be mandatory for pregnant women-on bed rest or not!. Massage eases many of the common aches and pains of pregnancy, relaxes mama and stimulates circulation improving lymphatic drainage and blood flow while also helping to reduce swelling. 

4. Explore Childcare Options. One thing that I learned early on is that the best/popular pre-schools and childcare facilities have really long waiting lists. While you are on bed rest and contemplating your work/childcare situation, this is a great time to check out child care options, make calls and get on waiting lists.

5. Make long term arrangements. This is also a great time to set up college funds, living wills and trusts. This is a great time speak to friends and family members and discuss your wishes for your child.

I’m hanging in there, doing my best to gather all the necessary information in order to make the best possible decisions. But in the end, it’s going to be much like it was when I was pregnant. I’ll do all that I can do and then, I’ll just have to wait. And trust.

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.