Oftentimes, women who have high risk pregnancies will be ordered by their doctors to remain in bed and off their feet. When a woman is on bed rest they are not to work and there are restrictions on her activities. This is ordered in an attempt to prevent pregnancy complications.
Throughout history bed rest has been ordered for many types of medical illnesses. However, people began to question whether there were any actual benefits to bed rest and if there could be any negative consequences. In fact there has been increasing data that show there are some adverse physical effects of prolonged bed rest.
Adverse physical effects include the wasting and weakening of muscles, bone loss, heart deconditioning, blood clots, and a decrease in the functioning of the immune system. Despite this information, bed rest is still commonly used for many medical conditions, including pregnancy. Despite there not being any proven benefit to the mother or the fetus, bed rest is still a commonly prescribed treatment for the improvement of pregnancy outcomes in pregnancies that are experiencing complications. There has also been shown to be a negative emotional and social impact on the patient and her family when bed rest is prescribed.
Regardless, bed rest is still recommended for a variety of reasons. Doctors may fear being held responsible for adverse outcomes if they do not recommend bed rest. Aside from that, bed rest seems to be innocuous, inexpensive, and makes sense.
In one study of women who were recommended bead rest because of a shortened cervix were 2.5 times for likely to give birth preterm. This indicates that bed rest did not benefit the women or the fetus and may in fact have been harmful. Other studies have also found that bed rest results in an increase in physical, psychological, and financial harm when used.
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