1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

Article Content

Prolonged bed rest is known to have unhealthful consequences in healthy people. Considering the roughly 1 million pregnant women each year who are assigned this treatment, there has been little research on the effects of antepartum bed rest on women's health in the postpartum period (the period immediately after birth until six weeks). To look for such effects, nurse researchers at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in Cleveland, Ohio, studied 106 women with singleton pregnancies who were hospitalized for pregnancy complications; the study subjects remained on bed rest for an average of 20 days before delivery. A checklist was used to assess for 35 separate physiologic and psychological symptoms.


The women reported an average of more than 12 symptoms in the first two days after delivery, but this number declined by nearly half at six weeks. The total number of postpartum symptoms correlated with length of time on antepartum bed rest. The most frequently reported symptoms across the postpartum period were mood changes, fatigue, tenseness, dry skin, back-muscle soreness, difficulty with concentration, and headache. Other symptoms, such as nasal congestion, indigestion, poor appetite, dizziness, and shortness of breath, were more common in the early assessments but had diminished by six weeks. The authors conclude that "early postpartum discharge . . . may not be advisable, as women must recover not only from birth but from bed rest." They suggest careful, early ambulation, with rehabilitation if necessary; they also suggest that these women need counseling on what to expect during the recovery period.


Maloni JA, Park S. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2005;34(2):163-71.