How a Dad Can Help a Pregnant Partner with Mandatory Bed Rest

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

If your partner has a risk of early delivery or other problems, your medical practitioner may put her on bed rest. Depending on the condition’s severity, bed rest can mean anything from not going to work and taking it easy to not getting out of bed at all, even to go to the bathroom.

Having your partner on bed rest is difficult for both of you. However, if your practitioner advises bed rest, take it seriously. Bed rest brings its own risks — mostly the risk of blood clots from inactivity — so medical practitioners don’t suggest it lightly.

Although you may think bed rest sounds like fun for your partner — especially if you’re the one running around trying to cook, clean, take the dog out, run errands, and set up the nursery — trust us, she’s not happy that she’s unable to help put away the freshly washed baby clothes and hang the pictures on the wall.

Many women on prolonged bed rest get depressed, especially if they have to stay in the hospital rather than at home. Make sure to keep your partner in the loop of baby stuff; if it’s okay with her medical practitioner, have friends visit regularly.

You can even suggest that her baby shower be held while she’s on bed rest to give her something to look forward to during those interminable days.

Bed rest is a vital job despite its simplicity — stay put so the baby stays put for as long as possible. Remember to make your partner feel good about the hard yet boring work she’s doing. In case you’ve never noticed until now, women often feel guilty without a reason for feeling that way.

If your partner has to worry about how all the extra work is affecting you, she won’t be resting peacefully, and staying calm and relaxed is essential on bed rest.

Your bedroom may not contain all the elements needed to entertain a sometimes bored, often dejected woman who’s just itching to get up and paint the nursery. But you can turn any space into a home inside your home — or inside the hospital, if necessary. Make sure your partner’s living space has all the following comforts:

  • Entertainment: A TV, reading material, cards, games, puzzles, and a computer, tablet, or smartphone all help pass the time.

  • Exercise ideas: Even if she can’t run around the bed, she needs to keep the blood flowing to prevent blood clots in her legs. Depending on what her medical practitioner says is okay, encourage position changes, ankle circles, and calf flexes several times a day. Discourage a cross-legged position, which decreases blood flow.

  • Extra pillows: Spending time in bed is really hard on your back, especially when you’re pregnant! Invest in extra pillows to facilitate position changes. And take the Star Wars pillowcase off, too; give her something pretty and cheerful.

  • A method of communication: Unless your house is really small, yelling back and forth isn’t the best method of communication. Cellphones work well, but walkie-talkies also work in most houses.

  • Somewhere to jot down shopping ideas and other thoughts: She may see something on TV or think of something she’d like to try for dinner, so give her a way to write down ideas as they come to her. Though pen and paper work perfectly well, tablets and smartphones are usually on hand at all times and easier to find than scraps of paper.

  • Space to work and something to do: No, she can’t load the dishwasher from the bed, but she’d probably love to fold baby clothes.

  • A table to hold food and drink: A drawer for snacks means she won’t have to call for help every time she’s hungry, and a cooler filled with drinks by the bed also gives her a little independence. Some tables fit over the bed, but a table next to the bed works fine, too.

  • Venting room: In this context, venting has nothing to do with fresh air and everything to do with letting her get frustrations off her chest. Discourage constant negativity, but she’ll need to express her aggravation, and better she vents to you than to her medical practitioner — or her mother! So be available to her, not only to keep her company but also to let her vent.