Bed rest is commonly used as a treatment for preterm labor. According to a report published in Biological Research for Nursing, bed rest may cause more harm than good to a pregnant woman and the unborn fetus.Decrease in activity or bed rest is suggested by an attending obstetrician for more than one million pregnant women each year. A prescription for bed rest is often associated with the belief that bed rest can prevent preterm labor and that it is safe for the fetus. With more than 20 years of research behind the report, author Judith Maloni, a nursing professor, has come to the conclusion that bed rest can cause harmful side effects.
Maloni reviewed previous studies spanning a 20 year time frame. During her review, she found instances of depression, reduced muscle function, loss of bone, weight loss during pregnancy, lower birth weight infants and thrombosis associated with bed rest. Mothers also reported feeling bored, tired and achy in many cases after prolonged bed rest.
Maloni is concerned that bed rest may be prescribed without proper medical research or results to back up the prescription. Maloni writes, "If research does eventually uncover convincing evidence of the efficacy of bed rest, investigators and care providers must pay strict attention to the prevention and treatment of adverse maternal and infant side effects. Success in the effort to reduce preterm birth may only come about when we, as researchers and providers, reconceptualize prenatal care as only one part of a lifelong effort to optimize women's health, beginning at birth."
Source: Judith Maloni, PhD, RN, FAAN. Biological Research for Nursing. 30 October, 2010.