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What to Expect with Bed Rest

Every expectant mother of multiples should be aware of the possibility of bed rest during her pregnancy. Although there are plenty of women, especially mothers of twins, who never have a reason to go on bed rest during their pregnancy, you should still be prepared for the eventuality. Awareness and preparation will make the experience much more manageable if it does happen.

Finding Yourself in Bed

Often confinement comes unexpectedly. Perhaps you visited your doctor for a routine checkup and were ordered to bed. Or, you rushed to the hospital with symptoms of preterm labor and were admitted. Once you're assigned to bed, it may be too late to make arrangements and you'll have to scramble to provide coverage for work, family, and other commitments. Usually bed rest becomes a reality later in the pregnancy, but don't assume it only happens in the third trimester. Many mothers of multiples may experience bed rest in the second, or even first, trimester.

Bed rest may be a temporary measure to stabilize a condition, or it may be prescribed for the duration of your pregnancy. The level of confinement may be adjusted as your condition changes. Your restrictions may even be lifted if you surpass the crucial number of gestational weeks and are able to deliver full-term babies.

Bed Rest for Preterm Labor

If you are experiencing preterm labor, your rest may be combined with uterine monitoring to detect contractions. You may also be given medication to reduce contractions and/or accelerate the babies' development.

E Fact

The evidence is mixed as to whether monitoring is an effective tool for preventing premature birth. Some feel that it is useful in identifying patterns of contractions, while others argue that it causes needless inconvenience and worrying over false alarms.

It's important to fully understand what your doctor expects of you, so that you can comply with the orders. Ask questions to clarify anything you're unsure about. Rebelling against your doctor's advice only endangers your babies, or even your own health. Don't be a martyr. Pushing the limits at home may result in bed rest at the hospital where your doctors can enforce the limitations.

Lying Low

Lying around isn't exactly a bed of roses. Being inactive for an extended period of time can have a negative impact on your body. Weight loss, weakened muscle tone, loss of muscle mass, bone deterioration, and blood clots are all common consequences of bed rest. The general weakness that results may hinder your recovery after delivery and leave you ill-equipped to care for the babies when they arrive.

The psychological toll of bed rest is also a factor to consider. Feelings of anxiety, frustration, and depression are common. Boredom is rampant. Isolation from family, friends, and the workplace only increases the emotional distress. Because a mother's emotional state has a great bearing on her physical well-being, these feelings must be acknowledged and dealt with as conscientiously as her medical condition.

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excerpted from:

From The Everything Twins, Triplets, and More Book Copyright © 2005, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.

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