Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Select An Article

    Does Bed Rest During Pregnancy Really Help?

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    If you've had problems during pregnancy, your doctor may have suggested bed rest. It may seem like a relief after the stress you've been under. Bed rest has been a way of treating pregnancy complications for more than a hundred years.

    But there's a problem. While bed rest is a common treatment, there's no proof that it helps. It doesn't seem to protect your health or your baby's. In fact, bed rest has risks itself. Doctors still prescribe it, but more because of tradition than good evidence that it works.

    Confused? Lots of women are. To help, here’s a rundown of what the research tells us about bed rest for pregnancy complications.

    Why Is Bed Rest Prescribed?

    Some doctors suggest bed rest for conditions like growth problems in the baby, high blood pressure or preeclampsia, vaginal bleeding from placenta previa or abruption, preterm labor, cervical insufficiency, threatened miscarriage, and other problems. They hope that by taking it easy, you lower the risk of preterm birth or pregnancy complications. Today, almost 1 out of 5 women is on restricted activity or bed rest at some point during her pregnancy.

    However, studies of bed rest have not found evidence that bed rest helps with any of these conditions. It doesn't lower the risk of complications or early delivery.

    Many doctors know that there's not good evidence that bed rest helps. But they try it anyway because they think it's harmless. Unfortunately, studies have found that bed rest poses real risks. They include:

    • Blood clots
    • Depression and anxiety
    • Family stress
    • Financial worries, especially if you have to stop working
    • Low birth-weight for your baby
    • Slower recovery after birth
    • Weakened bones and muscles

    The stricter a woman's bed rest, the worse these side effects seem to be, studies show.

    At this point, studies suggest that pregnant women -- even with complications -- are better off continuing their normal routine than resting. There's evidence that physical activity during pregnancy lowers the risk of problems like low birth-weight and preeclampsia.

    What Should I Do if My Doctor Prescribes Bed Rest?

    Feel free to question your doctor's advice. Doctors should be willing to explain their reasoning. It's important to get clear answers.

    1 | 2 | 3
    Next Article:

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    Quiz
     
    calendar and baby buggy
    Tool
    dark chocolate squares
    Slideshow