I am so excited to share Mamas on Bedrest and Beyond with you today!
Darline has a great website with a ton of resources for women on bedrest. But she talks about much more than that. She is a wealth of information on Maternal Health, Postpartum Depression, Infant Mortality, Financial issues while on bedrest, and many many other topics.
When Darline encountered problems having her children, she saw firsthand what a dearth of information, resources and support was available for high risk pregnant women. During her second pregnancy in 2006 she produced Bedrest Fitness, an exercise DVD of modified prenatal exercises for pregnant women on prescribed bed rest. In 2009 she created Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond and dedicates her time to creating a “one stop shop” for pregnant women on prescribed bed rest to locate information, coaching support, doulas and in home support and useful products all geared towards the high risk pregnant mama.
1. How and why was Mamas on Bedrest and Beyond born?
Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond was “born” as a result of my personal experiences having 2 high risk pregnancies. With my first pregnancy I had some vaginal bleeding/spotting at about 18 weeks. We considered bed rest but the bleeding stopped and everything seemed stable, so we held off. Then at about 24-26 weeks I had some weird “cramping”. Again, the symptoms stopped so we held off. Each time we considered bed rest, I frantically called family (all out of state) to try to arrange help/support. My husband traveled much of the time, so we thought it best if someone was with me in the event of an emergency. I also checked locally for agencies that could help me and found none. My daughter was born preterm at 36wks 6 days.
When I was pregnant with my son, I didn’t have any of the “weird” symptoms. However, because of my history of fibroid surgery, repeat miscarriages (I had had 2), and the preterm birth via c-section that resulted in heavy intra-operative bleeding (they didn’t’ want to call it a hemorrhage) with my daughter, my OB wanted to put me on bed rest. However, I refused. I again had no support and now had a 3 year old to care for. I again called several home care agencies and found that since I was not having medication administered and didn’t have Alzheimer’s disease, they could not help me out. So my OB and I brokered a deal that if I had ANY of the symptoms that I had with my daughter I would come into the office immediately and most likely go on bed rest. However, my son was happy as a clam and was a hefty full term baby.
While pregnant with my son I developed and produced my exercise DVD Bedrest Fitness for high risk pregnant women on Bed rest. Once I had him, I decided to provide the services and support that I so desperately sought when I was coping with my high risk pregnancies. Hence, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond was born.
2. What are the top three reasons that moms are put on bed rest?
In my business the top 3 reasons that women are on bed rest are:
1. Incompetent Cervix
2. Preterm Labor
3. How are nutrition and exercise different if you’re on Bedrest?
Personally, I don’t think that nutrition is all that different for pregnant women on bed rest versus women having uncomplicated pregnancies and not on bed rest. Women on bed rest should be eating a nutrient dense diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole unprocessed grains, leans cuts of protein, low fat but high in Omega fatty acids (much like the Mediterranean diet) lots of water. They should supplement with a really good prenatal vitamin. They should avoid processed foods (which tend to be high fat, high sugar and high sodium), cookies and pastries, soft drinks and excess caffeine.
In terms of exercise, I differ greatly from most health care professionals. I wholeheartedly believe that women on bed rest should engage in a modified exercise program performed in bed. Bed rest sets women up for muscle wasting and atrophy resulting in lost of strength. Bed rest changes a woman’s circulatory system and she loses most of her endurance. Many women experience fluid and electrolyte changes as a result of changes in kidney function from the changes in circulation and lack of exercise resulting in decreased blood flow to the kidneys. Finally women on bed rest are at increased risk of bone loss. A very simple regimen of stretching and very light strength training using an exercise band can ward off the aforementioned side effects. Sadly, most OB’s are completely against women on bed rest doing any sort of exercise, so instead they allow her to lose strength, endurance and to have these potentially problematic metabolic changes and then try to fix them post partum. I think this is really a poor treatment plan because it’s much easier to prevent many of these changes with very simple, gentle exercises than to try to fix them after the damage has been done.
4. We know physical health is important during Bedrest, what about mental health? Are perinatal or post partum depression rates higher in moms put on Bedrest?
Absolutely! By some reports, high risk pregnant women and women who have been on bed rest are as much as 8 times more likely to suffer from perinatal mood disorders. The real tragedy is that perinatal mood disorders are under diagnosed and treated in the general pregnancy population and even more so in the high risk pregnancy population where complications, bed rest, a preterm (and often traumatic) birth have resulted in a premature infant in the NICU are common and know risk factors for mood disorders. Many women feel that they shouldn’t complain or blame themselves for “having the blues”. They berate themselves for not being strong enough (remember the physical debilitation bed rest causes!) to care for their infants and many silently chastise themselves for not being thankful for their babies. Sadly OB’s often don’t ask about depression and the women themselves don’t tell. So it’s often only the women who present with severe symptoms or those whose loved ones notice them not bonding with their babies or acting otherwise unlike themselves that perinatal mood disorders are diagnosed and treated. Our maternal health care system in the US is really deficient in this area.
5. What do you see women struggle with the most while being on Bedrest?
By and large women are concerned that the reason they are on bed rest is because of something that they did. This is far and away one of the greatest struggles that I see (and one of the greatest misconceptions). Many complications have no apparent identifiable origin.
Now that is often out done by the burden that bed rest puts on the family in terms of maintaining the household, caring for older children and the financial strain that often results when a woman is out of work for weeks on end unpaid. Because the US offers no mandatory paid maternity leave, many women are on bed rest with little assurance that they will have a job to return to post partum and most don’t receive pay. For many families this is a HUGE problem.
6. How do you think family and friends can best support a mom on Bedrest?
Visit mama often, daily even. Bed rest can be mind-numbing and so many women say that the isolation of being home alone is most maddening. Listen to her without judgment. So often in an effort to be “supportive”, loved ones tell mamas, “Oh don’t be silly, you’re going to be just fine.” The truth is that many mamas experience complications during labor and delivery. Sometimes things aren’t fine. And while we don’t want to fuel the flames of a mama’s panic, disregarding her concerns is not helpful. Empathetic listening without judgment or even comment is often just what mama needs-that and a hug, a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on.
Help mama with her household and family obligations. Bring over a meal. Offer to care for older children. Run errands. Walk her dog. Clean her bathroom…If you can’t do any of these household maintenance tasks offer to pay for a service. It is very hard for women to have to give up control of their households. Most say that they feel better doing so if they have help from family and close friends.
7. Best tips for moms on Bedrest with more than one child?
Depending on the age of the child, you may be able to enlist the help of the child. This is true if the child is say aged 7 or older. But if a mama has a young one, say 2, this wee one isn’t going to understand why mommy won’t play with them, why mommy isn’t giving them their bath and why mommy is in bed. In these instances, I tell mamas to have their children bring toys, games and books to mama in bed and they can play together. This is also where dads, grandparents, other family members and friends are invaluable. If they can take the child out for a special treat or special day that is one less thing mama has to worry about.
8. What are some of your favorite resources for moms on Bedrest? What about some of the top posts on the blog that you think we all need to read?
I would call mamas’ attention to the video blogs where I demonstrate some exercises and positioning in bed. If you’re on bed rest, comfort is important as is exercise as I have previously described. The Vlogs, I think, really enable mamas to see what they can do to help themselves. I also like the blog posts that I have done on the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, what potential complications to look for post partum and signs and symptoms of post partum mood disorders.
I highly recommend the website KeepEmCookin.com. My friend Angela Davids has created an amazing community where women share their stories, struggles and triumphs. I also recommend BetterBedrest.org, a non-profit organization that provides individual support as well as micro-rants to women on bed rest in financial need.
In closing, I think that the biggest piece of advice that I would give to any woman on bed rest is to reach out. There are resources available to help you in this time of need. I know it’s really hard to find resources and that is what I try to do with Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, be a one stop shop for anything and everything a mama on bed rest needs. Many times I don’t offer what a mama needs, but the resource is listed or there is a blog or podcast that enables mama to get the help that she needs. I also want to throw out there, if a mama is on bed rest and has a need she cannot fulfill, send us an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure that mama gets hooked up with who or what she needs.
Darline Turner-Lee, Owner and Founder
Next Step Fitness, Inc
Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond
Darline Turner-Lee is the owner and founder of Next Step Fitness, Inc., a women’s health and fitness business and its subsidiary Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, an online information, support, referral base and resource for pregnant women on prescribed bed rest.
Darline has always been passionate about women’s health. Her curiosity was first peeked in 1978 when Louise Brown, the first test tube baby was born. Since then she has been fascinated with all aspects of women’s reproductive health. Her passion led her to earn a BS in Biology and her Masters in Health Science as a physician assistant.
She soon realized that the current US health care system lacks the tools and resources necessary for women to make wise, informed health care choices. As a woman’s wellness consultant, group exercise and personal fitness trainer via Next Step Fitness, Inc., Darline empowered women to improve their health with information, courses and fitness classes.
Darline Turner-Lee, BS, MHS, PA-C
ACSM Clinical Exercise Specialist, Certified Perinatal Fitness Instructor