When Bed Rest Is Best

Putting Your Feet Up

How long you'll be laid up can vary from one week to a few months, and the need for rest can arise at any time. "Most often, the need increases as the due date gets closer," Dr. Flamm explains. "But for some conditions, such as an incompetent cervix, a woman is at greatest risk for complications during her second trimester. Once she reaches the third trimester, the risk is reduced, and she may be able to go back to her normal life."

If your doctor does suggest bed rest, don't automatically assume it means constantly staying flat on your back. "There are different levels of rest -- it's up to a woman and her doctor to determine what's right for her," Dr. Flamm says. Though some women must remain completely in bed, most patients are told simply to stay off their feet as much as possible and not to carry heavy loads or climb too many stairs. "It's vital to find out what your bed rest entails," says Candace Hurley, cofounder and executive director of Sidelines, a national support group that connects women on bed rest with phone or e-mail buddies. "Can you drive? Cook a meal? Walk to the mailbox? Get specific answers."

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