It is not uncommon to hear about a woman being prescribed bed rest during a difficult pregnancy. In fact, it may be the recommended course of action over prescribing other treatments for pregnancy-related complications in some cases. Unfortunately, however, there is more evidence supporting the dangers of bed rest than proof of its benefits.
WebM.D. explains that bed rest has been prescribed by doctors to treat a large number of pregnancy-related complications for over 100 years. Some of the reasons that a doctor may recommend bed rest are in cases involving the risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, placenta abruption and high blood pressure. The practice of recommending bed rest is so common, in fact, that around 20 percent of women are placed on restricted activity at some point during the course of their pregnancy.
Despite the fact that many OB/GYN doctors regularly prescribe bed rest for their patients, there is little to no evidence suggesting that the practice has any real medical benefits for mothers or babies. Studies have actually shown that not only is bed rest largely ineffective in preventing pregnancy-related complications but that it itself poses a number of serious health problems. Bed rest-related health risks include but are not limited to:
- Bone and muscle weakness
- Blood clots
- Delayed recovery from labor
- Anxiety and depression
Countering the idea that bed rest is effective in treating some pregnancy-related complications are studies that show that physical activity lowers the risk of health problems like preeclampsia and low birth weight in babies. It is generally recommended, then, that you speak to your doctor about the pros and cons of bed rest during pregnancy, along with possible alternative treatments.