Does bed rest really help?
A. That's a tough question. Some new research suggests that the answer is no. A review of bed-rest studies done by The Cochrane Library, a database that compiles medical research, showed there is not enough evidence that bed rest improves pregnancy outcomes. Other studies go further, making the case that bed rest may actually do more harm than good. A 2004 study by Dr. Maloni and the National Institutes of Health found that bed rest contributes to weight loss in mothers at a later stage of pregnancy, when weight gain is critical for fetal growth. On the other hand, there are studies that suggest bed rest does the job of extending a pregnancy in peril long enough to produce a healthy outcome, such as in cases of preterm labor. And, with the many serious health problems that preemies can face, many obstetricians would rather be safe than sorry.