Guest Author - Kris Bigalk
When a woman is pregnant with twins, she may be directed by her doctor to go on some form of bedrest. At its most restrictive, bedrest means that a woman must stay in bed, usually lying on her side, and get up only to go to the bathroom. At its least restrictive (usually called "modified bed rest"), a woman may be directed to lie down for a certain number of hours per day, and otherwise go about her normal level of activity.
When bedrest is recommended by a doctor early in a twin pregnancy, it is usually because there are some complications in the pregnancy—such as an incompetent cervix, placenta previa, or maternal high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia). If the complicating condition worsens, the woman may be admitted to the hospital for a continuance of bedrest and/or more aggressive treatment.
Restrictive bedrest is usually difficult for any mother. Many find themselves bored after hours of watching television, reading books, or typing on a computer. If the bedrest is prescribed because of a health condition, it's hard not to obsess or worry. Women on bedrest should make sure to visit with friends and relatives regularly, either by having them visit or by phone. Support is key when you are on bedrest, whether it is from friends, relatives, volunteers, multiple club members, therapists, or a combination of all of these.
If bedrest is a medical necessity, it serves its purpose—to preserve the health of the twins. In most twin pregnancies, however, bedrest is usually not necessary until the last trimester, if then. While most doctors will tell women not to overdo it during a twin pregnancy, they don't recommend severely limiting activity unless it is absolutely necessary. Too little activity, as women who have been on bedrest will tell you, can atrophy your muscles and make you very weak—which in turn makes it difficult to care for your newborn twins, as your energy level and ability to function are compromised. Many women who have been put on bedrest claim that they do not regain their full muscle tone and energy level for up to a year after the birth of the babies. It is not a good idea to go on bedrest without your doctor's recommendation.
If a woman pregnant with twins finds herself put on bedrest unexpectedly, she should contact friends and family for help. If she belongs to a twins or multiples club, she should also contact the club for support and/or assistance at home. Her place of worship can also be a good resource. All of these people want to help bring two healthy babies into the world, and will want to lend a hand. Being pregnant with twins isn't easy, and being on bedrest is even harder. If you are prescribed bedrest, take it seriously and don't be afraid to rely on friends and relatives. Know that you are doing the best possible thing for your babies and yourself, and that though it is hard, you will all get through it, with a little help from the people who love you.