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Bed rest during pregnancy

Your health care provider may order you to stay in bed for a few days or weeks. This is called bed rest.

Bed rest used to be recommended routinely for a number of pregnancy problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Premature or preterm changes in the cervix
  • Problems with the placenta
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Early labor
  • More than one baby
  • History of early birth or miscarriage
  • Baby is not growing well
  • Baby has medical problems

Now, though, most providers have stopped recommending bed rest except in rare circumstances. The reason is that studies have not shown that being on bed rest can prevent preterm birth or other pregnancy problems. And some complications may also occur due to bed rest.

If your provider recommends bed rest, discuss the pros and cons carefully with him or her.

References

Bigelow CA, Factor SH, Miller M, Weintraub A, Stone J. Pilot randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of bed rest on maternal and fetal outcomes in women with preterm premature rupture of the membranes. Am J Perinatol. 2016;33(4):356-363. PMID: 26461925 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26461925.

McCall CA, Grimes DA, Lyerly AD. "Therapeutic" bed rest in pregnancy: unethical and unsupported by data. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121(6):1305-1308. PMID: 23812466 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23812466.

Newman RB, Unal ER. Multiple gestations. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 32.

Simhan HN, Iams JD, Romero R. Preterm labor and birth. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 29.

Sosa CG, Althabe F, Belizán JM, Bergel E. Bed rest in singleton pregnancies for preventing preterm birth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(3):CD003581. PMID: 25821121 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25821121.

Review Date 10/4/2016

Updated by: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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