Pregnancy is an emotional time. Being put on bed rest makes it even more so. How can you help a friend on bed rest? Read on to learn 10 easy and encouraging ways!
I’ve mentioned before that I spent a good bit of time in bed during each of my pregnancies. I am thankful that each pregnancy was carried to full term and that my bed rest was seldom strict (just one week of absolute left-side lying), but let me tell you: it was still difficult. I was very prone to preterm contractions, and during my first and third pregnancies (my second ended with a miscarriage), I was on medication for the contractions. My last pregnancy was with twins, and because I saw a specialist on Mondays and my OB on Thursdays for almost 20 weeks, I was only instructed to lie down if I was having contractions (which I did…a lot).
So, while I know that many others have had it more difficult than I did , I do understand to some degree what women on bed rest are experiencing, and I thought I might be able to help those of you who might wonder what you can do when a pregnant friend is put on bed rest.
10 Ways to Help a Friend on Bed Rest
1. Visit. Let me tell you: bed rest is lonely. There is only so much daytime television you can watch, you know? During my first pregnancy, I would get up in the morning and go to the couch. My husband had set my desktop computer up on the coffee table, and I would chat with other moms on bed rest on BabyCenter. It helped but not nearly as much as when a friend walked through my door. Having friends come by reminded me I was not alone, I was not forgotten. Don’t worry about needing time to stay for a while; the briefest of visits can be the most encouraging. I had a few friends who worked nearby, and they would often drop by for just a few minutes on their way to or from lunch. Those few minutes made each day a bit more bearable.
2. When you visit, bring reading material. Books, magazines, newspapers…it really doesn’t matter because after your friend finally binge watches the last episode of some random series on Netflix, she will still need something else to do. Talk to your local library and arrange to pick up books for her if possible. I would go online and request books, and they would let my husband or a friend pick them up for me. Amazon gift cards are another great way to go. The options for e-books are endless.
3. Depending on how strict your friend’s bed rest is, you can do more than bring her something to read. Bring her something to do. Better yet, plan to visit and do something with her. I had a friend who came and sat with me and taught me to crochet. Well, she tried to anyway. Another friend joined one of my sisters and hosted a makeup party at my apartment. She gave me a makeover, and several of my friends joined us while I just lay on the sofa and enjoyed their company. Some of them bought products; most did not. The party hostess knew the point was not the products.
4. One of the hardest things about bed rest, especially if you have other children, is the fact that whether you can get out of bed, your family still needs to eat. Bringing dinner to a friend on bed rest (whether she has other children or not) is a most helpful thing to do. We had some friends who did even better: they stayed and ate it with us. (Are you noticing a pattern here? Your friend needs YOU!) We had the best small group of friends during our first pregnancy. We used to meet once a week to do Bible study and fellowship together. That sweet group moved their meetings to our apartment for the duration of my bed rest and brought dinner every time. I looked forward to it every week, even the week I wasn’t allowed off my left side. Just be sure to ask your friends what will work best. My bed rest was more relaxed than many so I was able to recline on the sofa while friends visited most of the time. That’s not always possible so another great way to serve your friends is to prepare meals they can put in the freezer and pull out as needed. Just be sure to include clear instructions for your friend’s husband as he will be the one who heats it up!
5. Just like cooking for your family is off limits when you’re on bed rest so is cleaning up after them. It can be really hard for women on bed rest to fight the urge to do a load of laundry so if you want to help your friend help her with her household. One church women’s ministry I was part of would arrange cleaning for women on bed rest. What a wonderful way to help! I had a sweet friend who would come and help fold clothes. My husband would do the washing and drying, and she would sit and chat with me while she sorted and folded my older kids’ clothes.
6. One of the things women on bed rest sometimes miss out on is a baby shower. This doesn’t have to be. With a little modification, you can arrange a baby shower to fit any type of bed rest. My friends brought the shower to me at my apartment. I received permission to go down to the clubhouse for it and sit on the sofa, but if I hadn’t been able, they were going to bring it right into my bedroom. For friends on stricter bed rest, you can always arrange an online shower and have friends send gifts on a wishlist. If you have a small group Bible study, gather the gifts and have one or two women deliver them.
7. On that note, be willing to run errands for your friend. You’re going to the grocery story anyway, right? The advent of ordering groceries for pick up makes this an even easier way to help your friend on bed rest. She can order her groceries, and you can pick them up. How easy is that?
8. One of the hardest things for me when I was pregnant with the twins was sending my son off to daycare each day. He was just a toddler and didn’t understand why he couldn’t climb on mommy or why I couldn’t pick him up. He needed some attention that I couldn’t give him so friends and family had to help. If your friend has other children, plan a play date or an outing with them. Help her relax knowing they’re not feeling neglected. Help pick them up and take them to and from school or church. Bring them coloring books or movies to watch with mom. Helping to keep her kids entertained and active will help her not to worry and make her less likely to exert herself more than she should.
9. With that in mind, know that even though her body is bed, her need for nesting is just as strong as any expecting mother’s. You can help her with that by offering to do little jobs to get a room ready for the baby or wash all the new clothes from the shower you planned. Does she need help packing a bag for the hospital? Could you run to the store for any items she still needs?
10. Finally, listen. Just listen to her: on the phone, in person, over text, whatever. Her heart is full, and her mind is probably racing. Offer her the opportunity to tell someone about it. Weeks with no one to talk to can wear you out. I remember one night when my husband was sleeping while I was wide awake because I’d been lying down all day. All I wanted was someone to talk to. I tried to wake him to no avail so I picked up my pillow and just hit him with it. I’m not joking though we do laugh about it now. Help your friend avoid a similar scenario by letting her talk to you each day. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference.
These were some of the best things people did to help me through those times, but I know there are many more ways to help friends on bed rest. What suggestions do you have? Have you ever been on bed rest during pregnancy? What helped you get through it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!