Bed Rest Could Increase Certain Risks for Mother and Baby, Study Says

Over the years, experts have warned the bed rest during pregnancy carries few benefits for mothers and their babies. Now, a new study highlights certain risks of bed rest during pregnancy. And, in light of this new information, key guidelines for prescribing bed are being considered null and void.

According to the Society for Maternal-Fetal medicine in America, about one in five women in the United States are put on bed rest during pregnancy. Most often, it is prescribed because of complications that range from premature contractions and early labor to high blood pressure a potentially fatal preeclampsia. Women at high risk for miscarriage or you have babies suffering from inadequate growth while in utero may also be prescribed bed rest.

pregnant mom bedrest

However, few doctors actually believe that that rest carries any benefits. And now, researchers have found that bed rest can actually lead to more risks for mother and baby, including depression, muscle loss, a greater risk for blood clots, and an increased risk of diabetes. Bed rest may also result in lower birth weight babies.

“There is no evidence that rest improves outcomes,” co-author Anthony Sciscione of the Delaware Center for Maternal and Fetal Medicine told daily Mail UK. “However, there is evidence that rest can be harmful for moms, babies, and families.”

According to the Society, touted benefits of bed rest have not been seen in studies. For example, bed rest has not been shown to reduce the risk of premature delivery, either for women who are thought to be at risk for those that are already in early labor. And, in one study, premature birth actually became more common when at risk women were placed on any type of activity restriction – whether at home or in the hospital.

In contrast, the potentially harmful side effects of bed rest have been proven time and time again. For example, it is widely known in doing too little activity can result in both bone and muscle loss. This ‘deconditioning’ can start after only a few days, and there is a lack of information on its effect on pregnant women. Bed rest may also increase the risk of developing blood clots in the legs, and it can increase the chance that blood clots will move to the lungs – a potentially fatal situation. And, since blood clots are more common in pregnant women, limiting physical activity could further compound such risks.

The risk of gestational diabetes is also higher when women start moving for the sake of bed rest. In fact, the society stated that women admitted to hospitals for problems during pregnancy increased their chance of developing the pregnancy related condition. In addition, researchers cited non-pregnancy studies in which it was found that non-pregnant patients put on bed rest developed higher blood sugar levels, the key risk factor for diabetes.

But probably the most unexpected risk for patients put on bed rest was the increased chance of developing anxiety and depression. Researchers believe that the forced inactivity, paired with a loss of income due to an inability to work, may be responsible for the increased risk of these conditions. These factors have also been linked to lower birth weight babies.

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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