There are several conditions in pregnancy for which hospitalization may be recommended by your OB provider. For premature rupture of membranes (when your water breaks early), we put you in the hospital to watch for labor and signs of infection. If you experience preterm labor, severe hypertension, incompetent cervix, even poor fetal growth, it may be necessary to monitor you in the hospital. For other conditions, like mild preeclampsia, we may recommend stopping work and reducing your activities at home. Does reduced activity help? Maybe. Maybe not. But we frequently recommend it anyway, in conjunction with other therapies. Whether you have been working outside the home, going to school, or staying at home, hospitalization is an unwelcome interruption in your life. After the first day or two eating hospital food and watching the same 3 channels, it gets old.
Here are a few ideas to make hospitalization bearable:
Accept that you are grounded
Nothing else I am going to say matters until you acknowledge this fact.
Quit fretting about what you’re missing, how your coworkers will screw something up, or how your husband will dress the kids in mismatched outfits. Don’t think about the dirty clothes or unwashed dishes. Believe it or not, you are not indispensable; the world will turn without your supervision. Who knows, your daughter may start a trend with her plaid shorts and cowboy boots!
Take a deep breath and let it go.
Create a haven
Did you think that you had to wear a hospital gown?
Bring some comfy pajamas or yoga pants. Your bed rest area should be peaceful. Surround yourself with things that nourish your mind and spirit – bring your favorite pillow and blanket, a few family pictures, books, snacks, and crafts. One of my long-term hospital patients had her husband bring up a rug and a little table and chairs from home so that her kids could visit and feel at home. They pretty much had to take it all home in a trailer, but I admired the way she adapted her environment to suit her needs.
You never have time to do this in your normal busy life. Now you do.
Magazines, paperbacks, hard-cover, e-readers; there are lots of options. Whatever you read should have a happy ending or be light and funny. When you’re laughing, it’s easier to cope. I love Janet Evanovich’s laugh-out-loud Stephanie Plum series, starting with One for the Money. Marissa de Los Santos’ Love Walked In is also wonderful. Ask friends for suggestions and contributions.
Start a project
Have you always wanted to learn a language? Learn to crochet? Scrapbook? Knit? You have some time now that’s outside your crazy life.
We have only just become friends, but I can already tell that you are usually overcommitted.
Get to it!
Doing something with your hands makes the time pass. So does working your brain.
If you have other kids
Start a reading, homework, or activity hour in Mom’s quiet hospital room. Cuddle up and read. Play board games. Reassure them that this upheaval in their lives has an upside.
Pray, meditate, daydream. Understand that you are in exactly the right place at the right time.
You are not being punished.
This is a scary time for you and your baby. Take some time to daydream. This is a favorite activity of mine, and now you have some dedicated space and time to do it properly. Visualize holding your baby; plan your fantasy career; begin a journal; imagine returning to the world in a few months a little wiser and more focused than you were before.
Catch up on correspondence
You may feel isolated from the world hospital room, but remember that the world is a smaller place these days- you can still reach out to friends. E-mail; phone; write letters on pretty note cards, and ask for replies. Send out good thoughts and you will get them back.
I know it’s hard. You may be worried about reduced income or abandoned duties, you may have limited family support, and with all this time on your hands, you may be obsessing about the OB condition that landed you in the hospital to begin with.
I don’t mean to downplay your very real concerns. Just try to remember: every day that you spend pregnant right now is a day that your baby is not in the intensive care nursery. Hang in there!