When bed rest is required- Tucson Medical Center’s Antepartum Program

Bed rest at TMC for Women - a specialized antepartum program TucsonIn theory bed rest sounds glorious! Hours to read and to watch your favorite movies, without disruption! In reality, bed rest can be far from heavenly. The extra time to focus on concerns about your baby’s health as well as worries about disruptions to your family, your work and your relationships can make bed rest particularly difficult.

Expectant mothers on bed rest have always had a place at TMC for Women, and efforts are made to provide stimulation and support during this sometimes stressful time. After seeing how bed rest affects expectant mothers, talking with women who had experienced bed rest and reviewing the peer-reviewed research, Women’s and Children’s Services has formalized the TMC for Women Antepartum Program to better support women during this time.

Why are women placed on bed rest?

There are a myriad of reasons that you might be placed on bed rest.

Primarily, we see women who:

  • Are in preterm labor
  • Have problems with the placenta, such as placental previa or partial abruption (the placenta is near the cervix or a small section has separated from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery)
  • Have pre-eclampsia (a dangerous condition for mom and baby characterized by high blood pressure)
  • Have uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy
  • Have a baby who is not growing sufficiently (intrauterine growth restriction)
  • Have a premature rupture of the membranes (the bag of water has broken)

While you may be able to restrict your activity sufficiently and stay at home on bed rest, it is dependent on how serious your condition, your proximity to the hospital, what support and demands you have at home, many women need to be at the hospital.

How the TMC for Women Antepartum Program supports women

Addressing the whole person

You and your baby’s health is our priority, and that includes your mental health. Finding out that your pregnancy and baby may be at risk would be enough, during the hormonal rollercoaster that is pregnancy, to depress any woman, but the other aspects also make it difficult for mom. In our antepartum program we monitor mom’s physical and mental health throughout, initiating counselling to support mom if need be. Rather than waiting until baby is here, our program recognizes the mental strains that accompany bed rest during the antepartum period.

Combating loneliness

Bed rest can be isolating. In the antepartum program you can have visitors throughout the day, 24/7, and a pull-out sofa is available for your support person. We also have opportunities to socialize with other women who are on bed rest. Knowing you are not alone can bring comfort.

Knowing what to expect

If we expect your newborn to stay in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a neonatologist (specialist in newborns) will meet with you during your stay. We also have a weekly tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Knowing what to expect, and the expert care that our Level III Nursery provides, helps lessen the fear of the unknown.

Making a home away from home

While we know that our hospital breaks the mold when it comes to providing yummy and nutritious food, we also know that sometimes you just want your grandma’s chili or a favorite snack. Each of the private rooms has a refrigerator, and you have access to a kitchen so you can enjoy a little bit of home. You can also decorate your room to make it homier, and as a unit we can help you celebrate festivities and your milestones.

Conquering boredom

We’re building a library of both fiction and baby-related books to share with you, as well as a growing DVD library when what you can find online (Hello, free Wi-Fi!) is no longer enough of a diversion.

Our pet therapy dogs love to visit, and those wagging tails and gentle dispositions are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

If your condition allows, wheelchair excursions to one of TMC’s beautiful courtyards can bring a little beauty into your day.

We have crafts to occupy your time and volunteers who can teach you to knit and introduce you to the world of fiber arts.

By recognizing the unique challenges of antepartum bed rest, we aim to make your journey a little easier.

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When pregnancy leads to bed rest: a mom’s tips

Early labor story, bedrest, bed restBed rest can be a stressful time for parents while they wait days and weeks to see if their little one will arrive before term.

For Alyssa Hoyt, restricted activity started at 20 weeks, with bed rest starting at 27 weeks.

At 31 weeks, Baby Teagan tried to come early, so Alyssa spent 10 days in TMC having labor stopped twice. Alyssa went home on bed rest until Teagan – now a healthy, bubbly toddler – arrived at 37 weeks.

“I really loved all of the nurses and doctors and got to know them throughout this time, which really helped me to stay positive and compliant too,” Alyssa said.

Precisely because bed rest can be a difficult time, Alyssa shared the top five things that helped her get through:

  1. Family and friend support. Alyssa’s husband spent every night with her and took her four-wheeling in her wheelchair. Her mother brought special treats like homemade lasagna. Just taking a break from the monotony of the everyday and being able to laugh and seek comfort in love and friendship made all the difference.
  2. Remember: This is all temporary. Don’t dwell. There is an end to it and you can get through it.
  3. Comply with your doctor’s orders. The goal is to have a better outcome and a healthy, safe birth.
  4. Look to the future. Alyssa researched toys and car seats and things she would need when she brought her baby home. Being actively engaged instead of just waiting helped her feel like she had more control.
  5. Being engaged and active. Having an endurance mindset as a runner and a running coach, helped her keep in mind that this was a different kind of endurance, but it still required mental toughness and grit. Alyssa did a lot of research about what to expect, and met with physicians to understand the possible outcomes so she would feel more prepared.

Alyssa had a unique inspiration, too, in that she herself was a premature baby. Thirty years earlier, her mother, Beth Day, was at Tucson Medical Center, standing by anxiously while her baby recovered in the newborn intensive care unit.

Alyssa would spend 9 days there, until she was strong enough to go home. While Alyssa was at TMC on bed rest, staff found the handwritten log book, capturing her own time in the unit.

She and Teagan were both 5 pounds, 4 ounces, separated by 30 years.

“It was amazing to be here, with my mom, while potentially having an early baby,” Alyssa said. “Knowing my mom went through it with me I just knew it was going to be ok: we got this.”

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461