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When your doctor prescribes pelvic rest during pregnancy, you might be left trying to figure out what that even means.
What is pelvic rest vs bed rest? And what are you actually supposed to do, and not do during it?
Don't worry, we've got you covered, with our top tips to keep your baby safe and healthy, and some of the things you should be looking out for up until delivery. We debunk the myths around sex and physical activities and help you and your partner stay intimate while you look after yourself and your baby. If you want to learn more about pregnancy, why not check out our guide to being 32 weeks pregnant, or explore how to prepare for your 36-week ultrasound?
So what is the actual pelvic rest definition? Pelvic rest means delaying putting anything into your vagina to prevent any medical complications. You could be prescribed pelvic rest in early pregnancy, pelvic rest after surgery, or pelvic rest after birth, or for a number of other reasons too.
Pelvic rest includes abstaining from having sex, limiting any medical procedures like checks for dilation (in pregnancy), and in some cases a restriction on any exercises that could cause strain to your pelvic floor. It's good to get a clear idea from your doctor what they mean by the term because it will be different for different women.
The difference between pelvic rest and bed rest is that bed rest restricts you from most activities to stop you from exerting any part of your body, whereas pelvic rest is more focussed on (you guessed it) your pelvic region, so you can carry on with a lot of your normal day to day activity without too much worry.
Pelvic rest is important in a number of different situations and can be vital in avoiding medical complications down the line.
It's probably most common to hear about pelvic rest during pregnancy, but you can also be prescribed pelvic rest after miscarriage, a hysterectomy, or a C-section. Pelvic rest during pregnancy is usually used to keep high-risk pregnancies as safe as possible, including those pregnancies that are at risk of miscarriage, and reduce the risk of bleeding or contractions while pregnant.
Studies haven't yet proven that sexual activity can prompt a woman to go into labor, or that restricting activity (sexual activity or otherwise) is actually helpful for pregnant women, but doctors will still often prescribe it to women who have a high risk of premature birth, just to be safe.
If your placenta is positioned at the bottom of your cervix instead of the side of your uterus during pregnancy, then you might have a condition called placenta previa. If your cervix is only partially covered then you may have partial previa, and both will usually require a health professional putting you on pelvic or bed rest so that you avoid sexual intercourse and any complications or risks. Having sex could cause irritation and damage to your placenta, which could cause bleeding and in some cases induce early labor. If you've got a full placenta previa your doctor will probably suggest you have a Cesarian section.
You might be suffering from cervical complications, which means that pelvic rest is important to keep your child protected. This could mean you have a shortened cervix or an incompetent cervix, which can result in your cervix opening up as though you're about to give birth without any warning like contractions or pain.
Because of this, it's very important to listen to your doctor and adhere to the pelvic rest prescription, which usually means a full restriction on sexual intercourse until labor. Your doctor will also probably recommend that you pay close attention to any signs or symptoms of labor, so you can recognize when you're going into labor and prepare.
If you have a hernia before you get pregnant or develop one during your pregnancy, then you are probably going to be considered high risk by your medical professional, as you might be at risk of pre-term labor. Most times in this situation your doctor will prescribe complete pelvic rest.
So you're probably wondering how to survive pelvic rest, or at very least how to be intimate while on pelvic rest. We've got some pelvic rest instructions and tips from women who have experienced it first hand, on how to make it through.
The idea of slowing down and limiting your activity might feel awful, but it can be a really rewarding time for a lot of women during pregnancy. We can all benefit from taking some downtime, so why not make the most of it? Make a list of books you'd like to read, and indulge in your favorite box sets (on repeat if you want to). We bet there are a few movies that you've been meaning to watch, now is your time. Think of this as a bit of time out to just take it easy, and it might start feeling pretty good.
If you're the type of person who needs to do physical activities for their mental health and even their sanity, it's a good idea to speak to your doctor about what exercise you can do. Some types of yoga might cause health risks, but others could be perfectly fine. Brisk walking, squatting and lower body exercises could be allowed for one woman, but they might be one of the pelvic rest restrictions for another woman, so it's best to clear that up and work out what you should and shouldn't avoid with your doctor.
If you have a new baby to prepare for, then being prescribed time to organize your space could be a blessing in disguise. Get a head start on organizing your baby's room and preparing your home for your new arrival. This is the perfect time to get internet shopping for all those last-minute things you need.
It might feel as though abstaining from sex for a few months sounds like a relationship struggle, but actually, if you approach it with the right mindset, you might find that your levels of intimacy can rise during this time. Make a point to hold hands and cuddle, and give each other massages to keep that flame alight, and you might just find that things are even steamier when you're not having physical intercourse. Kissing is about to become a lot more sexually charged for you.
Keep the conversation open with your partner. It's important to both talk about how you feel to stay on the same page and to deal with anything together that you're finding hard so that you can support each other.
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