Even if you know it’s coming, bed rest can be a hard pill to swallow. At almost 36 weeks I have an end in sight but as a 5th time mom who has been on bedrest each time, I can tell you it never gets any easier. It seems like as soon as you make the transition to a slower paced day, baby arrives and you are thrown back into your regular schedule with a jolt.
Here are the best tricks I’ve discovered through 5 pregnancies for surviving bed rest:
Focus on the Small Stuff
I know we generally tell you to ignore the small stuff, but in this case embrace it. We rarely get the chance to slow down and focus on the details in life. Rather than being frustrated, take advantage of the down time and focus on the things you rarely have a chance to enjoy.
Spend some time reading books to your kids in bed without worrying about what’s on your to-do list or what time you have to be where. Start a journal and write down some of the thoughts you have about your pregnancy and the new baby — you’ll both treasure it later.
Start a Project
Seeing a project, no matter how small, progress from start to finish can do wonders for your emotional state. All those detailed jobs you’ve been putting off for years months like sorting through your junk drawer or organizing the files on your computer can now get a little attention.
For jobs that require too much movement, have a handy assistant ready to do the moving for you (8 year olds work great for this). Decluttering always feels great during pregnancy and it can still be done if you have some helping hands (Check out our Top 7 Reasons to Declutter Before Having a Baby). Declutter your bedroom one drawer at a time or have your kids bring you piles of their clothes so you can sort out the ones that don’t fit them anymore.
I’ve been slowly working on creating photo books — a task I’ve put off for years — and I love seeing the progress, especially since I know it will be a while before I’ll have the time to get to a project like that again.
Celebrate Small Milestones
The days can feel like weeks when you are on bedrest. Every pregnancy milestone is significant though, and as you see them pass they can really help keep your spirits up. Keep a calender where you can easily see it and mark off each day. It might seem like slow progress but the days will start to add up.
On the days when I get frustrated I watch some of those overly-dramatic baby shows that feature premature babies. Seeing the medical interventions required for babies that were born early helped motivate me to follow doctors orders and have a better attitude about extending my pregnancy.
Maintain a Schedule
You may not be able to follow your normal schedule, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw all order out the window. Keeping a basic schedule will help your days go by faster and help stave off the bedrest blahs. Wake up about the same time every day and follow a basic morning routine. If you are allowed to shower, take advantage of that — it will help you feel human even though you are still in bed. Get dressed each day, even if you are wearing nothing fancier than yoga pants and a t-shirt because staying in pajamas all day will affect your mood.
Start each day with a rough plan of what you want to accomplish. Have a few simple things on your list like reading part of a book, folding a basket of laundry, or playing a board game in bed with your kids. Write those things down on an old fashioned paper to-do list and take extreme pleasure in physically checking each thing off your list as you accomplish it. Checking each item off is much more satisfying than marking a task as done on your phone or mentally checking it off your list in your head.
This is a hard one and I put it last because it’s one I haven’t quite mastered yet. Asking for and accepting help is a learned skill. It takes some practice and it doesn’t always come naturally to us as busy moms. When people find out you are on bedrest, you’ll likely get many general offers of help. Make a list of the tasks, both big and small, that you feel like you can delegate. That way, when people ask what they can do to help, you can give them some specific options. They’ll appreciate knowing what they can do that will actually be a help to you and you’ll get the help you need.
Since I’m still working on accepting help, I gave in and hired a mother’s helper to complete the tasks that were too complex for my kids to help out with.
Have you ever been on bedrest? What tips do you have for making the best of it?