Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Surviving Hospital Bed Rest During Pregnancy

Being a long-term hospital patient while pregnant can become frustrating and even boring.  I wasn't prepared for hospital admission.  You could barely tell that I was pregnant.  I didn't even have a to-go bag.  My poor husband, Craig, was stuck driving home to pack my suitcase -- while I was adjusting to life as a hospital inpatient. 

As a hospital inpatient, you're quarantined to an uncomfortable bed in a room the size of a cruise ship cabin.  If you're lucky, you have a room with a view. You have a small television mounted to the wall, with limited channels. Based on my experience, there's virtually no entertainment, other than "Rosanne" television marathons.

Your sole purpose in the hospital is to keep the baby cooking. You do everything you can to stay positive and keep the baby batter in the oven. You look forward to visitors, phone calls, ultrasounds, fetal Non-Stress Tests (called "NSTs"), Doppler readings, and meal deliveries -- especially when smoothies are being distributed.  These are your forms of entertainment.

You don't know exactly what time the vampires will come to take the next round of blood, when your IV tube will be changed, when your blood pressure and oxygen levels will be checked, or when the ob-gyn will make a surprise visit.  It's virtually impossible to continue to work in the hospital as an inpatient, even with modern conveniences, such as cell phones, e-mail, and WiFi. 

Your nurses serve as cruise directors.  They are in the know.  Nurses constantly monitor you and keep the ob-gyn of the day in the loop.  They find out when and if you can eat, when and if you can shower, and when and if you will see the perinatologist. They are your confidants -- the friends you make at your assigned dinner table on the cruise. 

Nurses also serve as your primary caretakers.  When you disagree with a doctor's treatment regimen, who do you talk to?  Your nurses.  And, if you experience something somewhat embarrassing, like fluid leakage, you let your nurse in on the secret.

Your shore excursions consist of five-minute showers every other day, and wheelchair rides to the perinatologist's office.  You look forward to taking different routes to the ultrasound room.  The scenic ride involves a stroll through the hospital cafeteria.

Surviving hospital bed rest while pregnant is tough, especially if you're Type A and typically can't sit still for five minutes. Comfort and entertainment are quite limited.  You need distractions to keep your mind off of the situation.  Below is a list of items that I found helpful. 
Top 10 Survival Items for Hospital Bed Rest During Pregnancy

1.  Family and Friends

Family and friends are essential survival items for hospital bed rest. 

Craig took time off from work to be with me in the hospital.  When he returned to work, he would rush to the hospital to be at my bedside at the end of the day. 

My mom also spent a significant amount of time with me. She was on an airplane within hours of my hospitalization.  In addition to spending time with me, she also became the primary caretaker of our dog, Bentley.  She even made sure that I had clean pajama pants during my hospital stay.

I also had a few surprise visits from my good friend, Pattie. Her visits always brightened my day.

2.  Ipad or Tablet 

An Ipad or Tablet is a lifesaver for someone on hospital bed rest.  It provides ample entertainment -- everything from games to music, to FaceTime and Skype, to a blogging platform.

During my hospitalization, I became addicted to two games -- "Angry Birds" and "Words With Friends."  Hospital staff woke me up every three hours, and it seemed that I could always find a random opponent to play "Words With Friends" -- no matter the time of day.

We used FaceTime on occasion to keep in touch with close friends and family -- and also created a private blog.  Blogging helped us keep family up-to-date on my status as well as the baby's status.  It also helped us answer questions once, instead of multiple times.

3.  Cell Phone and Important Phone Numbers

A cell phone is an essential tool for hospital bed rest.  Even though your important telephone numbers are likely saved in your cell phone's contact list, I recommend that you have a hard copy of important telephone numbers.  As an inpatient, you never know when you or a medical professional may need to reach a family member or a friend quickly.  I hung a list of important phone numbers to a clipboard that was attached to the hospital wall.  It consisted of Craig's phone numbers and my mom's contact information.

4Chargers for Electronic Devices

Chargers for your electronic devices are must-have items.

5.  Toilet Paper

Hospital toilet paper is rough. It reminds me of a Brillo pad with a sand paper finish.  If you don't want to chap your heiney, bring your own toilet paper.

6.  Towels

Hospital towels are washed in really strong chemicals, they're the size of a kitchen rag, and are stiff as a board.  I broke out in a rash from using them, so Benadryl was added to my prescription regime. Bringing your own towels will make you feel more at home and will also help eliminate possible adverse reactions.

7.  Pajama Pants and Robe

Hospital gowns aren't very attractive.  Some snap up -- others tie up. Personally, I prefer the snaps. To keep your legs and heiney from being exposed when you're forced to lay on your side all day, having a plethora of pajama bottoms is key. A robe is also helpful for wheelchair rides and hallway walks following delivery.

8.  Toiletries - Shower Gel, Lotion, and Chapstick

Hospital shower stalls are tiny.  If you accidentally drop the wafer-sized bar of soap that the hospital provides, there's very little room to bend over to pick it up.  I found shower gel to be much easier to use.

In addition, hospital air is extremely dry.  As a result, hands, legs, elbows, lips, and other body parts can become like the Mojave Desert.  Lotion can hydrate skin, while chapstick can moisten parched, dry lips.

9.  Blow Dryer

Although I was only allowed to shower every other day, for no more than five minutes at a time, it was nice to be able to wash my hair and feel more human. Hospitals typically don't provide blow dryers, so you may want to bring one.

10.  Coloring Books, Crayons, Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles

It may sound strange, but coloring as an adult is fun, and also relaxing. Word searches and crossword puzzles also help to pass the time.



  1. Snaps or ties, hospital gowns are awful. Most of the gowns had a missing tie or snap and the fabric is just ugly. The Cleveland Clinic has been working with a fashion designer to create a better gown with a slight wrap around. Hopefully, patients will see some new gown designs inthe future.

  2. Thanks for sharing information about fashion designers working to develop new hospital gowns. If hospital inpatients look better, then maybe they will also feel better. I look forward to new gown designs!