When I was first put on pregnancy bed rest, I did a search for lists of supplies or suggestions. I was surprised that there wasn’t much out there…apparently the rate of bloggers who have been bed rested is pretty low. I did find some suggestions, but they were obvious things (books, movies, etc.) and not the practical tips or proven indulgences that I wanted.
So, over the last week, I’ve been keeping track of the things that have either come up as very necessarily or which have happily floated into the house from well-wishers. Here’s a preliminary list of the things that I’ve found to be both necessary and incredibly comforting:
1. Cute pajamas. I’ve blogged about how I practically live in pajamas since I work at home, but really what I meant was that I exist in a perpetual yoga pants/camisole/sweatshirt outfit which I shouldn’t even be using to answer the door, let alone leave the house in. Now that I’m on bed rest, it turns out that most of my sleepwear is too bulky, tight, or warm to wear while being in bed all day. I’m also suddenly facing the curious circumstance of entertaining people from my bed, since visitors have been coming by to pass the time. It occurred to me early that I didn’t want to see everyone while wearing the same old grungy t-shirts and skimpy PJ tops, so I dispatched my mom to get me some cuter thin pajamas that weren’t too revealing. I’m now much more comfortable, although I did forget that I needed maternity jams. All these online shops are starting to call my name…
2. Sheets. I’ve never looked at so many sheets online! I don’t know what the sheet situation is in your house, but we have a king size bed (acquired just last summer) and we only have two pairs of sheets: thin for summer, flannel for winter. Usually I strip the bed on Sunday and wash everything, but now that I live in bed it isn’t practical for me to hang out for a few hours while everything gets washed. So, we’ve had to sub in the too-warm winter sheets and then I basically lay here for hours and wish I was laying on something else. Again, not something I ever would have thought of, but definitely something that pops up when you’re trapped in bed.
3. Hand lotion, nail polish, and lip balm. I did find someone who had posted online about how important it is to keep a compact and your cosmetics close by so you felt your best even in bed, but I’m not that kind of lady even when I’m not in bed, so my lipstick is safely stored in another room of the house right now. What I am craving are the little creature comforts: a good smelling hand cream and a nice, thick lip balm. I’m also vaguely obsessed with my nails, which currently feature the ragged remnants of a manicure from last month. Since polishing my nails is something I can do in bed (and a nice way to feel a little more presentable now that I have company stopping by), I expect I’ll be paying a lot more attention to my manicure this summer.
4. Gift baskets from Harry and David’s. Lots of treats have been delivered to my room, from snacks to sundaes. I love it – food is a nice pick-me-up and it’s great to have things nearby that I can pick at without bothering anybody. Since I’m not moving around a lot, I’ve noticed that I really need to be careful about my salt and sugar or I start to not feel good, so if I was thinking of a gift for someone in my position, I’d be all about the fruit baskets. I’ve vaguely obsessed with Harry and David’s and if you know me, it’s likely I’ve gifted you with one of their baskets before. They do candies and things like that, but most of their stuff is fruits and cheese and other yumminess that would last a while for someone on bed rest. They also have beautiful flowers, which would be a nice thought. Kyle bought me a bunch of tulips when I first ended up in bed and I absolutely adore them.
5. iTunes gift cards. I got a bunch of these for the holidays and since I landed in bed I’ve used them all up buying apps, online magazines, and TV episodes. I am overly loaded on Apple products, so this might not be a great suggestion if the bed-rester isn’t as hooked up as I am, but the iTunes store has been a lifesaver. In addition to being convenient, it’s been great to have digital copies of movies/books because I can’t move around too much and shuffling between books or yelling to have someone put a DVD in got old pretty fast. I also picked up an audio book from iTunes since I often need to be in a position where it’s impossible to use/see a computer and listening to the book on my iPod really helped to pass the time.
6. Mara beads. Note: This is a totally personal preference, so you can sub in some other focus object if you have one that you feel more comfortable with. Mara beads are used in meditation as a physical way to keep yourself focused. The idea is that you say an affirmation or comfort phrase over and over again, touching a bead each time. The beads give you both something to do with your hands and an “end point” so your mind doesn’t stray too far from what you should be concentrating on. As someone who has a hard time with meditation because I can’t stay focused, I’m a major mara beads fan, and ever since I got into bed I’ve noticed that too much down time leaves me spinning with thoughts about what the odds are for the pregnancy and all the things that can go wrong. It would be nice to have something to focus on while I think calm, positive thoughts about our son. Of course, I have no idea where my mara beads are currently because I’m not a focused person, but theoretically…
7. 100% cranberry juice. This falls into the practical-not-sexy side of supplies, but if you were looking for things that you might need or a thoughtful gift that would be really helpful, this is one of those. One of the biggest dangers for pregnancy bed rest is any kind of infection and unfortunately pregnant women in general are prone to issues like urinary tract infections. Usually it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s seriously scary stuff if you’re at risk for preterm labor, so it’s a good idea to do everything you can to prevent that issue. Drinking 100% cranberry juice (note: full juice not juice cocktail) is kind of gross, but it’s been proven to do big time healthy things for women. You can also stock up on live culture yogurts and tons of fresh fruit to boost your infection resistance. Other practical-not-sexy supplies for bed rest: boxes of kleenex, bottles of water, baby wipes for cleaning hands after you eat, probiotic supplements, eyeglass wipes, eye drops, and non-slip socks.
8. MacBook Air. If you really wanted to spoil someone on bed rest or you felt like indulging yourself, I recommend Apple’s ultra-light laptop. I don’t own one but I’ve been drooling nonstop over them ever since I realized that my laptop is very difficult to use while laying bed. Remember: I’m nearly flat most of the time, so I’m typing one-handed (usually blind) and constantly struggling to get the laptop in a good position. I’m also not supposed to lift anything heavier than five pounds and my MacBook Pro weighs a lot more than that, so when I want to move it I either have to slide it carefully or yell for someone. The MacBook Air is light enough to be lifted, thin enough to be tilted or propped easily, and comes loaded with apps. It’s important to note that there’s no DVD drive, but you can buy one separately and plug it in if that’s important to you. I watch things on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime On Demand so DVDs are usually an afterthought. Of course, with a starting tag of $1000 the MacBook Air isn’t the cheapest investment, but if it’s the only thing keeping you from staring at the ceiling it’s probably not a bad thought!
A few other tips for pregnancy bed rest:
Stick to a somewhat normal schedule. It’s tempting to just sleep the day away, but I’ve found that it’s challenging to sleep when other people are awake and then be up all night by myself because if I need something (food, help, etc.) and Kyle is sleeping I’m kind of on my own. I’ve also found that I get a lot more stressed and worried at night, probably because there’s nothing to distract me. It’s much better to sleep through all of that and keep myself busy during the day.
Don’t overclutter. I mentioned before that I really cut down on books, etc., after the first few days because I got overwhelmed. Part of the problem is that I can’t lift a ton and another part was that I kept rolling over and landing on copies of Lucky or my giant pregnancy books. Ultimately, it is really important that your space is clear so you can stay comfortable and not make yourself crazy, so try not to drag everything into bed with you at once.
Bed rest hurts a lot. The first couple of days were awful. On top of the stress, my whole body felt like it was on fire because my muscles wanted to move and stretch. I was worried that it would be that way forever, but once I settled I got a lot more comfortable. I’m now going the other way where I’m shaky when I get up to use the bathroom, though, so be prepared to go slowly after a while.
Let go of stuff. I’m a privileged brat because I have lots of help and I know that some people out there aren’t as lucky as I am. That being said, give up as much control as you can over everything. Part of bed rest is staying calm so it’s important that you don’t focus too much on what could happen medically, what you need to be getting done, or what everyone else is doing that you would have done differently. I started out being a little stressed because Kyle doesn’t clean the house the same way that I do and my mom doesn’t know all of Eva’s habits and schedules like I do and farming out my work meant that things weren’t going to get done the way I would do them, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter at all. I have a short window of time in which to just focus on this baby and everything else will take care of itself.
Do your best. At the end of the day, if things don’t work out, you’ll feel better if you think you did absolutely everything you could do. So don’t cheat on bed rest by doing just a few chores or sitting up more than you’re supposed to. I keep getting tempted, but I remind myself that my end goal here is pretty specific and even if it’s only for my own sanity, I want to know that I did as much as I could here.