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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 them.

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 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26461925/.

Harper LM, Tita A, Karumanchi SA. Pregnancy-related hypertension. In: Resnick R, Lockwood CJ, Moore TR, Greene MF, Copel JA, Silver RM, eds. Creasy and Resnik's Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 48.

Sibai BM. Preeclampsia and hypertensive disorders. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 38.

Unal ER, Newman RB. Multiple gestations. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 39.

Review Date 10/5/2020

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, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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