Bed Rest Not Supported by Evidence


Bed rest may not be the best option for preventing preterm labor and may even cause harm to the mother and baby, according to an integrative literature review in a special issue on “Women’s Health Across the Lifespan” in
Biological Research for Nursing. Bed rest or activity restriction, prescribed for up to one million women in the
U.S. annually to treat pregnancy complications, is based on the assumptions that it is (a) effective in preventing
preterm birth, and (b) safe for both the mother and fetus. According to the study, however, research over more than two decades has failed to support these assumptions. All known research about bed rest, high-risk pregnancy, and preterm labor was reviewed, and how those relate to the side-effects of bone loss, thrombosis, depression, stress, and other symptoms. In addition to the impact of an overall negative pregnancy experience for the mother, which has largely been ignored by medical professionals, the researcher found a number of troubling issues with bed rest, including such concerns as: loss of muscle function, muscle atrophy, sore muscles; bone loss; maternal weight loss and lower fetal weight; fatigue, sleep cycle changes, and boredom; depression during pregnancy and postpartum; and nasal congestion, reflux, indigestion, back and muscle aches. [Science Daily, Oct. 2010]


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