I don’t know how it’s possible, but I’ve never written a post on how you can help a friend who’s on bed rest. I get asked all the time for ways to help, so I went through all of my emails and put this together. Between Madeline and Annabel’s pregnancies, I’m a bed rest veteran (I somehow dodged the bed rest bullet with James), so I definitely have some advice.
What NOT to say:
DO NOT SAY to the woman on bed rest how jealous you are that she gets to lay around all day. Seriously. I made that mistake when my sister-in-law was on bed rest for five months with her second child. “You get to relax all day, that’s amazing!” Face-palm. It’s not amazing. It’s terrifying – she’s on bed rest because something is wrong with her and/or her baby. I don’t know how I didn’t have a heart attack from stress and fear every single day. I was put on bed rest a year after my sister-in-law, and after a week in bed I emailed her and apologized profusely for telling her it sounded fun.
What TO say:
(Like anything else, follow your friend’s lead on what she’s comfortable with.) Some of the things I wanted to hear were:
~Do you want to talk about it? (Sometimes I did. It depended on the day)
~Are there any updates you feel like sharing? (If I’d just gone to the doctor, I always wanted to discuss it.)
~Can I pass any info on to anyone so you don’t have to? (My dad was the point-person for our family.)
~Is there anything I can fill you in on? (I LOVED when friends and coworkers would give me gossip and news.)
~This sucks. I’m thinking about your baby all the time. (I liked when people remembered the reason I was on bed rest.)
What you can DO:
~If she has older kids, step up. Help with transportation, entertainment, etc.
~If she has pets, help with their care (my friends would walk Rigby for us)
~LISTEN. And if she doesn’t want to talk, just be there. My friend Brianne would come over and sit there while I napped, just so I didn’t have to be alone. I’ll always be grateful she did that.
~Housework. It’s boring but she can’t do any of it and if she has a partner, s/he is completely maxed out. Unload the dishwasher, clean the counters in the bathrooms, fold some laundry, maybe even mow the lawn if they have one.
What you can BRING:
This one really depends on the mom. The only thing I could concentrate on was medical stuff. I’m one of those people who wants to know every possible outcome and every possible question to ask, so I wanted all the literature about my condition and preemies that I could get my hands on. I couldn’t focus on anything else. I could barely pay attention to an entire TV show, let alone a book or magazine. Anything that took longer than five minutes was too long for my brain. I was in a fog. That being said, some people want to be distracted from their medical woes, and everyone needs some necessities.
~hair ties, headbands, chap stick, lotion (clear the scent with her first), dry shampoo, hand sanitizer
~meals, snacks, drinks, straws, reusable water bottle, other groceries
~bed tray, extension cords, body pillow, reading light, extra-long phone charger
~back scratcher, books, magazines, movies, membership to Netflix streaming
~children’s books, coloring books and crayons, other things she can do with her older kids
What if you live far away?
~Check in often. Send brief emails and texts, and always let your friend know that she doesn’t have to respond. Connect with someone local and see if you can send gift cards for food, or contribute to a maid service or gardener.
~Check in on the partner. Mike was soooo incredibly stressed out when I was on bed rest. He was working, taking care of me, and out of his mind with worry over the health of his babies and his wife. His friends would come by to take him to dinner or hang out with him, and I was always so appreciative.
I know a lot of you reading here have been on bed rest, so please leave advice in the comments!
(And don’t forget to leave a comment to help save a child’s life!)