Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    Coping With Bed Rest.

    WebMD Health News

    July 6, 2001 -- For some moms-to-be, pregnancy just doesn't seem to faze them. They continue their day-to-day activities uninterrupted. They work full-time until the day they deliver. Some even maintain vigorous exercise routines. Still, other expectant moms need to stop work and limit their activities during their pregnancy.

    But exactly who should? For what reasons? And, most important of all, does it help mother and/or child? A new study in a recent issue of American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology addresses these questions.

    "We thought it was important to look at how commonly [stop-work recommendations] come up during pregnancy," study author Linda Frazier, MD, MPH, tells WebMD. Frazier, who has worked in occupational medicine, is an associate professor in the department of preventive medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, in Wichita.

    Using pregnancy data gathered for 1996-1997, Frazier and her colleagues reviewed all employment information and birth results. Of more than 1,600 women who worked at least 10 hours each week, more than 27% had been advised by a doctor or nurse to stop working.

    The number surprised Frazier and her colleagues. "We thought it would be about 5%," she says. "And that is for a very significant work restriction. The numbers who have a smaller ... work restriction -- like no heavy lifting, shorter shifts, day shifts, and no handling toxic chemicals -- is probably greater."

    Women most likely to be prescribed bed rest had been hospitalized during an earlier pregnancy and had delivered a premature baby previously, reports Frazier. Almost 60% of those told to stop working had high blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, or were at risk for premature labor. The other 40% were given that advice because of stress, swelling, or fatigue.

    The good news? Of those told to stop working before or at the seventh month of pregnancy, almost 92% delivered a full-term infant. On the other hand, twice as many expectant moms instructed to stop working delivered a small baby, weighing roughly less than five pounds, compared to moms who stayed at work.

    This, says Frazier, suggests that women advised to stop working already were at higher risk for pregnancy complications. But another explanation, suggests Atlanta obstetrician Michael Randell, MD, is that the women prescribed bed rest actually stayed busier at home.

    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
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares