THE BLOG

5 Ways to Lower Stress When You're on Bed Rest

If you've been on bedrest for even one day you know it's anything but a vacation. You're terrified about what could happen to the baby and life as you know it has turned upside down.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
Pregnant woman lying in bed
Pregnant woman lying in bed

If you've been on bedrest for even one day you know it's anything but a vacation. You're terrified about what could happen to the baby and life as you know it has turned upside down.

Once the caretaker, now you're the one that needs to be cared for. Your calendar that used to be packed with meetings, deadlines and social engagements is now empty except for your doctors' appointments. You try to fill the day with activities to kill time while everyone you know carries on with their life.

All of that open time is prime breeding ground for the dreaded 2-word question, "What if...?"

Your mind spins as you imagine the worst case scenarios and you furiously search on Google to find out which of those possibilities, if any, could actually happen to you.

There is nothing relaxing about bedrest.

And this is just when you're on bedrest at home. Bedrest in the hospital is a whole other beast that piles on even more stress.

The problem is that stress during a high-risk pregnancy adds additional risk.

Research shows that for some women, stress can be an even bigger risk factor for spontaneous birth than some of the common causes of preterm birth, such as preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) and cervical insufficiency.

Many moms who have experienced preterm contractions often report that their contractions worsen when they're extra anxious.

Being on bedrest, your typical stress-relieving activities may not be available to you.

You can't go for a run to clear your head. You can't step outside to get some fresh air. Forget about yoga or sex as a way to relax.

Though it's hard to manage your stress on bedrest, it's not impossible.

Here are 5 bedrest-friendly stress-reducing tips:

  1. Find the colors of the rainbow. Just like our legs feel fatigued when we go for a long run, when we're stressed for a long time, parts of our brain burn out too. This simple activity of looking for all the colors of the rainbow in your room can reverse the cognitive burnout that stress causes. If it's easy to find ROYGBIV the first time around, challenge yourself and do a couple of rounds.

  • Hum a tune. Research shows that humming reduces stress, improves breathing, lowers blood pressure and lowers heart rate, all good things when you're already dealing with pregnancy complications.
  • Do something nice for someone. Kindness has a profound effect on your heart and mood. Send a handwritten note to a friend, give a gift just because or ask your loved one how they are doing. It takes you out of your head and brightens someone else's day.
  • Transport yourself to the vacation of your dreams. For 3 minutes, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful place you have been or wish to go to. Immerse yourself in the smells, sights, and sounds of this place.
  • Hand massage. Overwhelm frequently can show up as tension in your hands. You may even notice that you clench your fists. Open your whole hand, stretch your fingers and relax your palms. This can help release that tension and leave you feeling less stressed.
  • If you're still having trouble finding peace and you feel like the stress is driving you crazy, reach out and talk to a friend or a professional.

    A stress-free pregnancy may feel impossible when you're on bedrest, worried about your baby. But you absolutely can stress less so you can be present for the special moments with your baby.

    Your turn!

    How do you stay calm and manage your stress when you're on bedrest? Share your ideas in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!