Bed rest during pregnancy: when is it recommended and why?

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Bed rest in pregnancy

We know that pregnancy is not a disease and that we must lead a healthy and active lifestyle, keeping all or most of our usual habits. Some precaution it is reserved especially in the first three months of pregnancy when the risk of miscarriage, but in principle there are no particular restrictions. In some cases, however, the gynecologist may recommend the bed rest in pregnancy: why does it happen? And what is it for?

In this article

  • Why is it needed
  • Frequency
  • Advantages
  • disadvantages
  • Practical advice

Why is it needed

The gynecologist can recommend the bed rest in pregnancy in the presence of certain conditions such as:

  • growth problems in the child,
  • hypertension or preeclampsia,
  • vaginal bleeding from placenta previa or detachment,
  • preterm birth,
  • cervical insufficiency,
  • threat of miscarriage and other problems.

So bed rest can be advised in case of threat of miscarriage, high-risk pregnancy or particular complications.

Le research more recent, however, show that bed rest during pregnancyanza is not particularly effective in reducing the risk of preterm labor or in preventing premature birth.

If your pregnancy is at risk of premature birth, your doctor may recommend that you reduce some strenuous activities, such as:

  • weght lifting,
  • limit training and sports and physical activity,
  • avoiding standing for a long time or doing a physically stressful job,
  • avoid sexual intercourse.
Read also: Threat of abortion, how to recognize it and what to do


It is estimated that almost 1 in 5 women is forced to limit her activities and bed rest at some point in her pregnancy, this happens even though doctors are now aware that rest is not effective in reducing the risk of preterm birth or other complications, but they think that it is not it hurts and is harmless. In fact, as we shall see, the risks are there.


Doctors recommend bed rest as a preventative measure to limit the risk of premature birth and other complications, but it is now common opinion that this practice is not effective, indeed it poses to carry more disadvantages than advantages.

Before you decide that you will need to rest in bed, ask your doctor for a few questions and ask for clear answers:

  • What benefits will it get?
  • How long will I need to rest in bed?
  • Do I have to stay in bed all the time?
  • Can I go to work?
  • Can I get up to take a shower or use the bathroom?
  • Can I do the normal household chores and take care of my other children?
  • Should I avoid lifting heavy objects?
  • Should I lie on my side or stay in a certain position?
  • Is sexual activity okay?

If the doctor recommends just a little rest, the real advantage is to take some time for yourself and to live this magical phase of your life fully and without haste or stress. 


Bed rest in pregnancy involves however some health risks as:

  • Thromboembolism, which is the formation of a blood clot in a vein
  • Decrease in bone mass (bone demineralization)
  • Musculoskeletal and cardiovascular problems, such as loss of muscle mass
  • Respiratory fatigue
  • Stress caused by difficulties with guilt towards other children, work or home.
Read also: Cervical cerclage

Practical advice

Bed rest can be difficult, physically and mentally: it is boring and stressful and for this reason it is best to approach it with an organizational and constructive attitude. Here are some tips to better enjoy this period.

  • plan your day: following the activities you have planned to the letter will leave you with no downtime, difficult to endure;
  • write a list of activities that you can do during the day, like reading a book, watching a movie, working on the computer, playing puzzle games, knitting or whatever you like;
  • get dressed in the morning: there is no reason why you can't get out of bed, take a shower, get dressed and even put on make-up if you want;
  • do the exercises recommended by your doctor: it is necessary to keep the muscles active and also to promote circulation to reduce the risk of clots;
  • ask for help and build a support system with friends and family;
  • stay in touch with others through the telephone, social networks and chats;
  • eat in a healthy and balanced way, By getting all the nutrients you and your baby need, make sure you are getting the right amount of fiber and drinking plenty of water to combat constipation which can get worse due to inactivity;
  • take the opportunity to learn something new: for example a new language following online courses, or learning to draw or other.


  • Bed rest in singleton pregnancies for preventing preterm birth
  • Bed rest with and without hospitalisation in multiple pregnancy for improving perinatal outcomes
  • Lack of evidence for prescription of antepartum bed rest
  • YES P

  • threat of miscarriage
  • wellness in pregnancy
  • contractions
  • preterm birth
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