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Why You Might Want To Be Skeptical Of Bedrest

Bed rest — the idea that your partner might need to spend the final weeks or months of her pregnancy, you know, in bed — sounds kind of nice. It sounds like what “Netflix and chill” would actually be if the term were coined by 30-somethings. To wit: hanging in the sheets, eating Oreos while binging Narcos.

But there are a couple major problems with bed rest: First of all, it will never be prescribed to you. Second of all, the research is pretty damn clear that it doesn’t actually work to stop premature births. You know, like it’s supposed to. Here’s the lowdown:

What It Is

Bed rest is almost exactly what it sounds like. It’s the total sequestering of your pregnant partner to a bed. She is meant to stay there until she reaches the full term of her pregnancy. Or she goes into premature labor. Or she freaks because she’s done with the second season of Narcos and desperately needs to go hang out with friends, drink white wine and discuss  failure of the drug wars’ single-minded obsession with Escobar.

flickr / Gabriel Gonzalez

flickr / Gabriel Gonzalez

What It’s (Supposedly) For

Bed rest was once a somewhat common prescription given to women believed to be at risk of a premature delivery. So it was prescribed for things like preeclampsia (high-blood pressure), a shortened cervix or vaginal bleeding. But bed rest came under increased scrutiny in 2013 when a study found the practice seem to increase the likelihood of premature delivery. Later medical consensus seems to be that bed rest can actually be detrimental to a woman’s health.

What Are The Risks?

It turns out that bed rest can lead to a whole host of issues, not the least of which is increased stress and anxiety due to being on bed rest. That almost made it into that Alanis Morrissette song but was jettisoned for being actually “ironic.”

Other issues include family stress (that’s you, buck-o) and financial crisis due to loss of income or need to hire help. Other health risks include the development of blood clots, loss of bone density, low birth weight and slower recovery post-birth. Which just won’t do considering she needs to get back to work to make up for all the money lost during bed rest.

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The Importance Of Healthy Skepticism

Some doctors feel certain conditions still warrant it; if your doctor recommends it for your partner, there are a bunch of questions you should ask first, including the obvious (Why, when, is she allowed to move around at all?), and the obvious-but-only-to-you (What happens if she has an orgasm while on bed rest?).