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122 Days of Bed Rest: A Contraction Case Study

December 21, 2011, the first day of my bed rest journey, is burned in my memory.

A routine ultrasound at my exam revealed some serious symptoms of preterm labor. I was only 19 weeks along with my twins.

My diagnosis was “Incompetent Cervix”. Apparently, I was having steady contractions that I couldn’t even feel. To save my babies, my doctor explained, they would need to admit me to the hospital immediately and attempt to stop the labor from progressing. Once admitted, the doctors placed me on anti-contraction medication and stitched my cervix closed with a cervical cerclage. And there I sat, in my hospital room, a whirlwind 72 hours later, connected to a contraction monitor, printing out an endless stream of the happenings inside my uterus.


The bed rest contraction case study begins…

Now, with all the time in the world, I became a bit obsessed watching that contraction monitor (there’s only so much to focus your attention on while on hospital bed rest). Were my contractions triggered by anything in particular? Did my contractions happen at a certain time of the day? If I saw a contraction occurring on the monitor, could I pay closer attention to my body to actually feel that contraction in the moment?

 

Were my contractions triggered by anything in particular?

 

Being so early into my pregnancy and experiencing pregnancy for the first time, I had no clue what to expect with how contractions were supposed to feel. I later discovered that most women who experience preterm labor symptoms cannot feel contractions even though they may be happening on a regular basis.

My first two weeks in the hospital were the hardest. The highs and lows marked with many different emotions as I dealt with the extreme stress of a high-risk pregnancy. As I settled into my new normal, I continued to obsessively stare at my hospital contraction monitor and I started to notice very distinct patterns. Some days were worse than others regarding the number of contractions I was having each hour or throughout the day.

 

Most women who experience preterm labor symptoms cannot feel contractions even though they may be happening on a regular basis.

 

The main thing I noticed: when my contraction frequency spiked, despite all of the medication, were the days when my emotions also spiked. These were the days of anger and depression and worry. These were the days of feeling completely helpless knowing that my pregnancy could end at any moment and that my twins might not survive if born too early.

As soon as I recognized this, I realized that I had to do something.


I decided to try an experiment…

I wanted to see how much I could control my contractions by controlling my mental state each day. Could I directly tie my contraction frequency to the stress and anxiety I experienced? I started to study the patterns and quickly realized that I did have more control than I thought.

My calmer days, when I distracted myself well and maintained an overall good mood, I had the least number of contractions. My stressful days, when I let my mind race into a worry spiral, I had an increase in the frequency of contractions. The most interesting thing I noticed was that when I made the conscious decision to calm myself down during a difficult day, my contractions decreased. My mind and body were more connected than I had thought. As each day passed, I proved my theory over and over again.

tracking contractions with a contraction monitor while on bed rest
My actual monitor. My actual contractions.

My contraction monitor soon became my own mental health alarm – alerting me of when I needed to chill out and shift my energy to the positive side. I also discovered that so much of my stress and anxiety was subconscious. Even during a relaxing Netflix binge day, my contractions could still be consistent regardless of my distraction. Watching those “peaks and valleys” printed on the paper immediately snapped me into action to get them back down.

 

My mind and body were more connected than I had thought. As each day passed, I proved my theory over and over again.

 

Deep breathing, visualization exercises, meditation, and affirmations became my tools to feel some sense of control to help protect my unborn babies.


The end of bed rest in sight!

After a few months, my doctor who was skeptical if I could even make it to 24 weeks was now scheduling my c-section at 37 weeks! The word “miracle” was brought up several times and while I do believe a miracle occurred, I also know that I had a lot to be proud of with the hard work I put in to keep my emotions at bay. After 122 days on hospital bed rest, my twins arrived healthy at 6 pounds each.

 

Every day is valuable and prolonging your pregnancy as much as possible is worth the work.

 

After leaving the hospital with my miracle babies, I had this urge to share my case study with other women and help them accomplish their own triumph of overcoming a high-risk pregnancy. Since most of what I had done was self-taught, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into honing these skills so I went back to school to become a certified coach. Since starting my own coaching practice, I have been able to help support women on bed rest at home or in the hospital all across the country.

Getting out of your own head during this difficult time is easier said than done, of course, and the majority of women cannot do it alone. So many things are out of your control during a high risk pregnant so the goal should be to focus on what you can control.  Establish your tool kit and support network. Having a contraction monitor helped me immensely but was equally as important as learning to lean on my support system, and establishing and honing my techniques to calm my mind.

Every day is valuable and prolonging your pregnancy as much as possible is worth the work.


To all our brave mamas on bed rest and those who support mamas on bed rest – from 10/22-10/25, in the Bloomlife Moms Club, Jessica Fisher will be guest moderating the group! She’ll be sharing resources and answering questions about how to keep your calm and clear your head while on bed rest or modified bed.
 
The Bloomlife Moms Club is a gathering spot for new and soon-to-be mamas and birth experts. It is a safe, judgement-free space for support and guidance where we respect and encourage individuality and personal decision making. Everyone is welcome!
 

Monitoring contractions from home just got a whole lot easier! With Bloomlife, you can see contractions in real-time and track changes in your contraction patterns across time.

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About Jessica

Jessica Fisher is a Certified Professional Coach specializing in supporting pregnant women on bed rest. She spent 122 days on hospital bed rest while pregnant with her twins and successfully delivered them at full term. The coaching services she provides have been proven to help prolong high-risk pregnancies resulting in healthy, and full term babies.

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  • ex: JenniferMarks@gmail.com
  • ex: Jennifer

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