Originally published in 2011.
For my first child, Spence, I spent 17 weeks in and out of the hospital on bedrest. I somehow managed to go full term due in part to the distraction of the OJ Simpson trial on my rented hospital room TV. I was dealt the bedrest card again with my daughter Tess, so believe me when I say I’ve got plenty of experience under my belt. Here’s what I learned about how to make this less-than-ideal situation a bit better.
1. Sanity factor
Being on bedrest is like running a mental marathon, but there won’t always be folks cheering on the corner with a cowbell! Surround yourself with your A team. It’s not the time for Debbie Downers! Warning if you have an emotional vampire hospital roommate, pop in your ear buds fast! Negativity is contagious. Pick your favourite go-to song—mine was “Bright side of the road” By Van Morrison—and visualize! I’d see my healthy daughter splashing in red rain boots to get me through. Sounds crazy, but it worked!
Skyping my son and family also helped me cope when times got rough. With Skype you can have visitors on non shower days and no one is the wiser, Skype’s greatest feature? The ignore button! Also, plan a routine each day. I woke up the same time every day when my blinds were opened. Wednesday and Friday mornings were my shower days.
2. Sanctuary factor
Create a mini sanctuary so you feel safe when things get rough. A favourite pillow, a colourful blanket, some fancy smelling creams to lift your spirits, a whiteboard with your mantra and positive quotes, a due date countdown and most importantly your baby’s ultrasound pic so you can see her every day!
3. Stress factor
Did you know some spas do house calls? I didn’t! But on a whim I called Elmwood Spa (near the hospital I was in here in Toronto). A lovely RMT named JC came to my hospital room once a week—the best investment during my pregnancy.
Added bonus: Some health-care plans cover massage—it’s worth looking into. Also, friends looking for a way to help can always give you a gift card for a pick me up pedi! Ask your doc first if it’s OK for you!
4. Sleep factor
The Snoozer full body pillow is a must for any woman on bedrest. I still use mine for breastfeeding/comfort and plan to marry it one day!
5. Silliness factor
Laughter is the best medicine, but hospital TV rental is expensive. Try a Netflix or Shomi subscription, click on comedy websites or YouTube clips. I couldn’t dive into lengthy/heavy books because I was too stressed. So writers like David Sedaris, Tina Fey, Demitri Martin and George Carlin kept me giggling and distracted.
6. Sustenance factor
I’m a foodie/control freak, so letting my husband do the grocery shopping and meals killed me! I emailed him recipes to experiment with and used a grocery delivery website to lighten his load. Also I kept a small cooler of healthy snacks within reach. One good thing about bedrest is you can’t reach the junk food cupboard, so when you do indulge, it is well planned!
7. Sedentary bowel factor
OK, no one wants to talk about it but here’s the deal: Bedrest = bowel trouble. So eat roughage, prunes, bran and probiotics and drink tons of water and prune juice till the cows come home! Straining can be dangerous—beware! You’ve been told!
As frustrating and isolating as bedrest can be at times, keep in mind that you are never alone and even though it may seem like it, it’s not forever! Bedrest was the most important thing I’ve ever done and clearly it works… case in point my two beautiful kids, Spence (born at 40 weeks) and Tess (born at 27.5 weeks)!
Jack Hourigan is the proud mum of two and a Second City Alum, follow her on Twitter.