The house was eerily quiet. From outside, I heard squeals of children being shepherded into their cars for the last few days of school before summer vacation. This was the first time I had been home on a weekday, and I had no idea what to do with myself.
I was six weeks pregnant when I was prescribed bed rest. I agreed to it wholeheartedly because I wanted to do whatever I could to protect my baby, but the emotional impact that bed rest took was something I wasn’t prepared for.
As someone who was always on the go with a full work and social calendar, I loved being busy. I thrived on being busy. So sitting at home every day staring mindlessly at the TV and worrying about what could happen, while my friends and family went about their lives, was pure torture on the best of days.
As the weeks went on, the isolation grew, my stress shot through the roof and I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I quickly realized how little support there is for women with high-risk pregnancies and who are on bed rest. So after my son came home, I used my training as a child and family therapist to become a perinatal wellness counselor to help women who are bored, worried and feeling helpless while they give their baby the best chance at a healthy start to life.
Here are five things I did on bed rest that I now teach my clients to help curb the boredom and fight off bed rest blues.
1. Create a schedule
Wake up and have your meals around the same time every day. Set times for making phone calls, catching up on Netflix or working. This will give your day some structure so the days don’t bleed together. This will also motivate you to find activities to fill your day and help with the boredom.
2. Do something with your hands
When you’re on bed rest for weeks on end, constantly watching TV or movies can get boring and feeds into the feeling that you aren’t accomplishing anything. This can be especially hard for moms who are used to being productive and busy.
Whether it’s doing art, teaching yourself how to knit or sending handwritten notes, find something to keep your hands busy. You will feel accomplished at the end of the day when you see how many envelopes are stacked high with personal notes or how much bigger your baby blanket is getting, which can help boost your mood.
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3. Schedule get-togethers
Organize a juice and cheese night with your girlfriends or a game night with other couples. The isolation that you feel on bed rest is prime breeding ground for antepartum depression, which is linked to pregnancy complications and preterm birth. Do your best to stay as social as your body can tolerate, even if you can’t leave your house.
4. Indulge in what makes you happy
Now is not the time to hold back. Find what makes you happy and add more of it in your life. Whether it’s spending time with your best friend, ordering a special treat online or getting a backrub from your partner, ask for what you want. Doing things that make you happy will lower your anxiety, which is important for your health and your baby’s health during a high-risk pregnancy.
5. Get support
You are going through a very difficult time, one that is not meant to be endured alone. Talk to your doctors about your fears and concerns. Stay in touch with friends and family who are supportive. If you’re struggling with keeping your mood up or managing your anxiety, reach out for professional support from someone who is familiar with coping on bed rest so you can learn tools to feel calmer and more hopeful as you fight for you baby.
Parijat Deshpande is a Perinatal Wellness Counselor who works with women experiencing stress and anxiety during their high-risk pregnancy and while on bed rest. Combining her professional expertise in clinical psychology and women’s wellness with her personal experience with a very high-risk pregnancy, Parijat guides moms to manage their overwhelming feelings so they can feel calmer, more confident and more hopeful and have a healthier pregnancy. Parijat offers emotional, health and wellness support through private virtual sessions with women during their high-risk pregnancy and during the postpartum period.