Bedrest. If the first thought that came to your head was, “That would be a nice break” then I bet you a nickel you have never actually been put on true bedrest. I was put on bedrest for all three of my pregnancies for various amounts of time. Some was spent at home and some was spent in the hospital. As I reflect back on those times I think about all the ways my community gathered around me . . . and the times they did not.
Do you have a friend or family member that has been told to “sit and stay” in her pregnancy? If so this post is for you who need a little help being a good “community” to your friend lying in bed right now.
- Please don’t say things like, “I wish I could be on bedrest for a while!” First off, that’s just rude. Secondly, you really have no idea what you are saying. I know you are trying to make the situation seem better, but this really just doesn’t help. Bedrest was the hardest thing I have done as a parent. It was miserable. The easiest part was staying still. The hardest part was worrying about my baby. What if I moved too much? I just coughed, did I hurt him? I felt every little movement and discomfort inside me and wondered if it was something going wrong. It is enough to make a person nuts! Not to mention the fact that laying in the bed, only being allowed to get up to pee (and sometimes not even that! Sometimes there are things like bed pans and catheters involved) is just uncomfortable and hard on your body. How you can help: Saying something like this is really just a sign that you have no idea what is going on with your friend. Instead, try saying something like “I wouldn’t mind having some down time, but I can’t imagine what this must be like for you.”
- Realize that if she is in bed, she is not fulfilling her role as a wife and mom within her household. One thing I did not expect to feel when on bedrest was extreme guilt. I felt so incredibly guilty! My husband had to work all day, and then come home to a messy house with no dinner made. He had to take care of the other kids by himself plus be my 24/7 waiter. My kids did not understand what was going on. They just thought mommy didn’t want to spend time with them or do fun things with them. I missed life events while lying in the bed. While I knew I was doing the right thing to keep me and baby-on-board healthy, I was still overwhelmed with this looming feeling a loss of purpose. My God-given job is to be a help mate to my spouse and a mother to my children. I felt as though both of these responsibilities were unobtainable from the reach of my bed. How you can help: Now that you know your friend feels this way. Comfort her by telling her she IS a great mom and wife. Just knowing these thoughts are going through her head you can help combat them by reminding her she is serving a great purpose by caring for herself and the baby. Reassure her that the family is okay and that things will return to normal soon.
- Visit her often and in short increments. There is no doubt that a mom on bedrest is lonely. She is disconnected from the outside world around her. For my last pregnancy I was in a new state and we did not know anyone locally. We were blessed with some family that was able to come help from time to time, but in large I was so incredibly lonely. My husband would take the boys to daycare and I would just lay there all day long. The times I was in the hospital were scary and again, lonely. How you can help: Visit her regularly and with chipper spirits. Tell her about what is going on in life. Try not to stay for 6 hours (unless she asks) as most moms on bedrest can get tired rather quickly. But a 30 min to an hour visit is just enough to lift her spirits. Coming once is nice, but having someone stop by once or twice a week tells her she is not forgotten.
- Pray for her. More than anything you can physically do or say, your friend needs and desires your prayers. Prayer is just about the only thing she is able to do at this point to protect her and her child. It is the one thing she can do while lying in bed. In my first pregnancy I had an amazing and supportive group of prayer warriors across the country praying for our son. Ultimately we were healed from the complication that put is on bedrest and threatened the life of our boy. And when I say “healed” what I mean is, the doctors said it was irreversible with no cure . . . but God said something different. We were miraculously and mercifully healed by God Almighty! Prayer works my friend. How you can help: Pray diligently and let her know you are praying. Send her written prayers via mail, email, or text. Call her and pray over the phone with her. Kneel down beside her bed and pray over her. I short “I am praying for you” note can be what she needs to keep her eyes focused on the great Healer.
- Help her stay connected to the outside world. A lot can change in a couple of months while you are stuck in a 10 x 10 room! Relationships and jobs change, people have milestones, and anticipated events are missed. Nothing can make you feel isolated and depressed faster than being completely disconnected from everything going on outside your home. How you can help: Bringing over books and magazines and such is nice, but the best gifts I got while on bedrest was seeing pictures and videos from events I was missing. We even set up skype sessions for some things so I could really feel a part of it! If she can’t be at her kid’s soccer game, go for her and video tape it. Cheer for her kid for her. Take a video of your church worship time so she can worship with you! (This one I wish I had as the sermons are usually available via podcast but not the music part!). If it is something you know she wishes she could be a part of, capture it for her the best you can.
- Brighten up her space. Hospital rooms and even her own bedroom can become very drab and depressing looking rather quickly. They also become messy and unorganized faster than you can imagine. I amazed me how quickly I started feeling boxed in my own bedroom. The things I needed were sometimes upstairs or in a hard to reach place. I missed seeing the family pictures that hung in the hallway and the kids’ artwork posted on the fridge. How you can help: Bring those things into her space. Decorate the hospital room with her favorite colors, pictures, art from the kids, and flowers. Hang an inspirational verse where she can see it and be reminded each day. If you bring flowers, make sure you remove them before they start to die (that’s depressing looking). A bright, comfortable blanket and pillow are way better than the yucky, drab hospital ones.
- Love on her family. The thing I worried about the most while stuck in the bed was my family. It wasn’t just the tasks that needed done or the kids taken care of physically. I worried that they were not feeling my love and affection. Was anyone taking the time to sit in the floor and play checkers? Were the boys being hugged enough? (we hug a lot here) Were they having fun? My best days were days when someone would come and pick up Johnathan and just spend the day spoiling him. I knew his love tank was being filled and that filled my love tank. How you can help: Just love on her husband and her kids. Mostly her kids (husband love would probably not be appropriate LOL). Spend quality time with them just as she would do. Make sure their emotional needs are met. They are probably worried about mommy and missing her a great deal.
- Think about her daily responsibilities that are no longer getting done. Most moms are pretty used to the demanding schedule that managing a family and household require. Because of that, sitting down and not being an active part in those activities can wear like a thousand pounds on a bedrest mom. This was probably one of my biggest areas of struggle. Everything from washing the sippy cups (the correct way!) to changing the sheets to weeds in the garden weighed on my constantly. From time to time a friend would stop by and help out a little, and I was always so grateful for that. What I remember the most was a friend coming and cleaning the house top to bottom and the BEST part was that she asked me how I liked things done! I realize she didn’t have to do that, but because she knew me so well she was happy to fold the clothes just how I liked them, and wash the cups the same way I did. Blessings! How you can help: Think about all the things that you do in your household, and then realize she needs the same things done. I am not suggesting to run two households, but help when and where you can. And when you help, do it her way. No that isn’t a necessity but it will absolutely make her day! Here are a few suggestions: meals (set up a meal train), cleaning, laundry, yard work, grocery shopping, doctors’ appointments, bed sheets, holiday decorating, ect.
- Be in it for the long haul. When I was put on bedrest it was a big shock. After I announced it to people I was often overwhelmed by the generous responses I had from friends to help. It was wonderful. And at times I did not even have enough for my friends to do. However, after about a week or two all the enthusiasm seemed to fizzle out. Everyone was getting back to their normal lives and there I sat. Nothing was worse than having to pester my friends to ask for more help. I felt bad for bugging them and bad for needing the help. Once I just started doing things myself…and then landed up back in the hospital. How you can help: Don’t just be there for the beginning. Make it part of your routine to check on her every week. Remember that she still has all the same struggles, even more so as she gets closer to a deliver date. True friends are there through the thick and then, be a true friend. Let some of the more “acquaintance” type friends fill the first needs, and then be there for her after all the excitement wears off. Call her every week to see how you can help or find someone to help with her needs that week.
- Just listen. I have heard it said somewhere that a woman uses on average 20,000 words per day (as opposed to a man who uses only 7,000). If she is on bedrest someone needs to be there to hear those words. Chances are the words will be venting about frustrations, discomforts, and fears. Not all, but most of the time in my venting I just needed someone to listen rather than actually expecting an answer or solution. I think I called my mother 8 times a day for 4 months just to chat. My poor husband would often come home from 10 hours at the office, get kids fed and in bed, and then exhausted he would sit up and listen to me monologue about the most random things. What else did I have to do all day except lay there and think about how to solve the universe problems? How you can help: Be a good listener. Don’t try to fix everything, wait for her to express she is wanting a solution. Just listen. Laugh with her. Cry with her. And don’t make fun of her for using all 20,000 words while on the phone with you!
Any other ideas to share? How would you add to this list?
Want some additional resources?
Check out Take Them A Meal for a free meal planning tool
To send a unique gift to brighten her day Pajamagram
For support information visit Sidelines
For a great online community visit Keep Em’Cooking