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Helping a Friend on Bed Rest

Updated on August 23, 2012

My Hospitalization Story

During my pregnancy, I was admitted to a hospital two hours from my home for high risk perinatal care. I was placed on bed rest, only allowed to get up for bathroom breaks and very short showers. I had extremely high blood pressure with the pregnancy and had to take high doses of medication to manage it. The blood pressure and the medication made it very hard for me to do simple tasks. The added stress of knowing my baby was going to be born premature along with being 2 hours from home made for a traumatizing several weeks. I was 25 weeks along when I was admitted, and the plan was to stay pregnant as long as my body could carry our baby. I had no idea when I'd go home.

The support of my family and friends made the extremely stressful situation much easier. I wanted nothing more than to be at home, in our bed, but that wasn't an option. We had to make the best of the situation; he visited me as frequently as possible. I was close to my parents house, so they were able to come every few days. My best friends also went to great lengths to take care of me. I needed their support, and I am so thankful they stepped up to the plate when I needed them the most.

Help with Hygiene

When you want to take care of your friend, try to put yourself in her position. What do you use every day? What comforts you? Being in bed 99% of the day is exhausting physically and mentally. If you're normally an active, social person, being confined to a bed in an unfamiliar place is scary. Physically, I felt gross. My showers were short because I couldn't stand up for long because I'd get dizzy and my ears would ring until I thought they'd burst. Thankfully, my room had a bench in the shower where I could rest and stay in longer. I felt like I was freezing and on fire at alternating times. I was miserable in my own skin.

My mom, sister in law, and best friends from college came armed with these wonderful beauty products to help me feel more like my old self:

  • Salon shampoo and conditioner
  • Hairbrushes
  • Hair dryer
  • Fancy body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Tweezers
  • Nail file and nail polish
  • Mouthwash, toothpaste, and toothbrush
  • Good creamy lotion
  • Face towelettes that I could freshen up with if I couldn't get up to shower

Comfort in Clothing

When you're on bed rest and pregnant, just being comfortable is the key. My skin was extremely sensitive to touch with all the of the medications, so I lived in super soft cotton pajamas most of the time. My mom made it her mission to find pajamas that would make me laugh or smile as I got rolled down the hallways of the bustling hospital in my wheelchair for a daily ultrasound. I had a pair of polar bear slippers from Christmas time that did the trick. Who can't smile when they see fuzzy bears on the foot rests of their chair?

I recommend these clothing items as must haves:

  • Soft zip up hooded sweatshirt (I had a pink one that was a very special Christmas gift)
  • Drawstring pajama pants with fun prints or characters
  • Holiday themed pajama sets (our daughter was born a few days before St. Patrick's Day, and I was wearing shamrock pants when we went for her emergency delivery)
  • Rubber soled slippers
  • Oversized t-shirts
  • Cotton nursing bras (for pregnant, planning to breastfeed mommas)
  • Cotton bathrobe
  • Lots of socks
  • Cotton panties


Bed rest isn't as boring as people may think, but it did help to have the distraction of something else. If you're on bed rest, you are sick or otherwise unhealthy enough for activity, so you probably don't feel like doing much anyway. I received a lot of puzzle books and magazines, but the best entertainment came from watching TV and movies on my iPad, movies on the DVD player, and listening to relaxing music. These were some really helpful, thoughtful things I was given that helped pass the time:

  • iTunes gift cards to buy music and apps for my iPad
  • Downtown Abbey Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD (I had never heard of the series, but it turned out to be so good)
  • Novels and books
  • Suduku puzzle books
  • Real Simple magazine
  • Stationery and stamps to mail real love notes home
  • Blank spiral bound calendar - this was great, it was from my sister in law. I used it to make notes from each ultrasound, her birth, and the milestones after her birth
  • Spiral notebook for keeping a journal
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • All kinds of chargers for phones and devices

The Special Comfort of Love

The only thing that really calmed me down was my connection to home through my husband. We were so far apart, but we always stayed connected through phone calls, texts, and emails. Thankfully we had unlimited cell minutes, and we would spend hours at a time connected on the phone. We didn't have to talk; we just needed to know the other was right there. I felt like I was home when I'd hear him coming home from work, making dinner, cleaning up, or going about every day tasks. I didn't feel so isolated.

He would always bring me a special treat with each visit--my very favorite--munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts. There was a 24 hour McDonalds in the hospital, and he'd sneak me in an apple pie or a few french fries.

He sent flowers and cards that I could see his care and concern for me and our child. He brought many of my things from home to help my stay comfortable. I couldn't ask for more from him; he is my heart.

Two of my closest friends from college brought a big bag of things for me, as well as a bag for him. They understood that we both needed help. It wasn't a struggle just for me. They picked out things like a soft blanket, fuzzy socks, girl scout cookies, healthy snacks, chapstick, and face wipes. They brought him snacks for his car trips and a 6 pack of Coke.

Remember to love your friend--that is why you're wanting to take care of them. The material goods are appreciated, but the love and support will mean more than you know. I will never forget the visits and the time I spent with my people. There is no price or replacement for them.


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    • mlowell profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Georgia

      The hospitalization was a shock. We hadn't even started her nursery yet; we didn't want to know her gender until she was born too. Bed rest seemed to give me a lot of time to worry about all the unfinished details, but I did a lot of online shopping to help get the basics covered. We made her nursery up after she was born to help handle the stress of her being in the NICU. Everything was ready by the time she came home.

      There are a lot of misconceptions about bed rest being easy--but now that I've been through it, I know it's the opposite. Most people forget that you're not at home in bed eating junk food surrounded by your familiar things--you're in a hospital getting poked, prodded, and checked on every few hours. There is very little privacy and modesty is hard to have. Nurses and staff are constantly in and out around the clock.

      I'm glad you found this article helpful, and I hope you can spread the word.

    • profile image

      Giselle Maine 

      6 years ago

      This was an eye-opening and very helpful article. Until now I didn't think that bed rest could be 'hard' because the person on bed rest doesn't need to 'do' anything. But I hadn't thought about all the issues of social isolation, the challenges of doing simple things like taking a shower when your health is at risk. So it is a lot harder than it would seem.

      Plus your ideas about helping the friend feel good by helping with fun and comfortable clothing and hygeine help etc are very helpful. Also (now that I think about it), did it make it hard for you to prepare for your daughter's birth too? I mean in terms of getting organized with what you need for baby's nursery? Anyhow thanks for this helpful and informative article.


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