Your doctor may recommend pelvic rest if you are experiencing certain pregnancy complications that could potentially put you and your baby at risk. Pelvic rest can help alleviate and stabilize these complications and help maintain a healthy pregnancy.
What Is Pelvic Rest?
When your doctor prescribes pelvic rest, this means you will need to refrain from certain (lower body) activities and avoid inserting anything into your vagina that could potentially increase pelvic pressure or cause pelvic contractions. Examples of these activities include:
- Sexual activity
- Walking briskly
- Lifting anything heavy
- Lower body exercises such as squats
Reasons You May Need to Be Put on Pelvic Rest
There are a number of reasons why your doctor may put you on pelvic rest, which include:
When the placenta is positioned near or over the cervix (either partially or completely), this condition is called placenta previa. You may experience bleeding with placenta previa and possible contractions as well. In most cases, placenta previa resolves on its own. The placenta will migrate upward away from the cervix as the uterus grows with the baby. However, if it the placenta remains low and covers the cervix at the time of delivery, a c-section will need to be performed.
If you are at high risk of going into preterm labor, your doctor will likely put you on pelvic rest as a precaution. It is considered preterm labor if you are having contractions prior to 37 weeks gestational age. Reasons you may have an higher risk of preterm labor include:
- History of preterm labor with previous pregnancies
- Current preterm labor issues
- Bleeding during pregnancy
- Incompetent cervix
- Pregnant with multiples
- Close pregnancies less than 18 months apart
- Overweight or underweight
Complications With Your Cervix
If your cervix is shortened or incompetent, your doctor will need to put you on pelvic rest. If you are diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, also known as an insufficient cervix, you are at an increased risk of premature labor or pregnancy loss. Your doctor can monitor your cervix during your pregnancy by checking cervical length with ultrasound. He may also perform a cervical cerclage which is a procedure that sutures the cervix closed and will help reinforce and strengthen the incompetent cervix.
How Can Pelvic Rest Impact Pregnancy
When your doctor puts you on pelvic rest, there will be limitations as mentioned above. However, you are still able to do your normal daily activities within reason. In most cases it is only temporary and your doctor will let you know how long you should be on pelvic rest.
Pelvic Rest Compared to Bed Rest
Pelvic rest is not the same as bed rest. There are more restrictions with bed rest. So, while you will not be confined to a bed with pelvic rest, you will still need to be cautious, watch for any unusual symptoms, and rest when needed.
When Do You Need to Call the Doctor?
If you are on pelvic rest and you begin to have symptoms that may indicate that something is abnormal or wrong, you should contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leaking clear fluid
- Unusual discharge
- Back pain
- Severe pain in general
- If you've experienced trauma from an injury or car accident
The Importance of Pelvic Rest
It is important to listen to your doctor if he prescribes pelvic rest. The doctor's main concern is the well-being of you and your baby. Most likely the pelvic rest will only be a temporary restriction and you should try to utilize this time to its fullest. One way to keep busy is to use this time to prepare for your baby's arrival.