While going on bed rest during pregnancy might sound like the stuff of dreams when you’re knee-deep in the busyness of life, the reality of these doctor’s orders can be quite unpleasant for many pregnant women. Beyond the obvious boredom factor, lots of women worry that the inactivity of prolonged bed rest will make them gain extreme amounts of weight or lose muscle tone.
Though spending months in the prone position does present health challenges, it doesn’t have to lead to excessive weight gain or the feeling that your limbs have turned to jelly. Here are seven ways to stay healthy while on bed rest.
Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits
Understand Your Caloric Needs
Determining your daily calorie requirements is already a challenge when you’re pregnant, and going on bed rest can make this calculation even trickier.
If it’s practical in your situation, visit a dietitian who can help you set a target range for daily calories. Or make use of a calorie calculator that accounts for your height, weight, and activity level to get a sense of how much to eat each day. Once you’ve established a calorie goal, try using a food tracking app to keep your daily intake on track.
Use Easy Appliances and “Dump” Recipes
Depending on your doctor’s orders, you may have approval to be on your feet for a limited amount of time each day. You probably don’t want to spend it preparing an elaborate dinner. Thankfully, convenient appliances like the Crock Pot and Instant Pot can cut down on prep time, especially if you use them to make so-called “dump” meals. These recipes are exactly what they sound like: dumping a variety of ingredients into a cooking appliance and letting the machine do the work.
“Dump meals are ideal for a mom-to-be on bed rest or modified bed rest,” says dietitian Yaffi Lvova, RDN, who specializes in pregnancy and post-natal nutrition. “There are all kinds of dump recipes on Pinterest, and I’ve always had good luck trying something new and basic.” Search for dump recipes with a healthy base like beans, lean meats, tofu, or whole grains. And remember, a meal doesn’t have to look gorgeous to be tasty and good for you. At this point in your pregnancy, the goal is to provide yourself and your family with healthy, homemade meals. Insta-worthy can wait.
Love Your Leftovers
“Using leftovers in a delicious and satisfying way is a great way to reduce time on your feet,” says Lvova. Once you’ve decided on a simple Crock Pot meal or dump recipe, why not double it to extend healthy meals throughout the week? To minimize burnout on a single food, you might even get creative with your extras by repurposing them in novel ways. “Turn leftover salmon into a salmon wrap with some hummus, spinach, and a tortilla or lavash,” Lvova suggests. “Leftover turkey? Cut it and add it to a prepackaged salad with a delicious dressing.” Extra meats or veggies can also serve as a pre-made base for pizza, tacos, or casseroles.
Try a Grocery Delivery Service
Not everyone has family and friends who can step in to help when bed rest brings life to a screeching halt. In this case, it may be tempting to put your local fast food delivery on speed dial. But there are far healthier options these days for home-delivered foods than gut-busting sausage pizza or sodium-packed Chinese food. Many grocery store chains now offer delivery for a low fee. Consider signing up for one of these services while on bed rest. This way, you can stick to a list and ensure the health of the food that arrives at your door.