CWRU nurse researcher finds prescribed bed rest has down side for pregnant women

November 10, 2010

Despite lack of evidence about bed rest's effectiveness, doctors annually prescribe it for roughly 1 million pregnant women to delay preterm births.

Judith Maloni, professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, said a comprehensive review of more than 70 evidence-based research articles challenges whether this is healthy for mothers — or their babies.

She makes her report in the article, "Antepartum Bed Rest for Pregnancy Complications: Efficacy and Safety for Preventing ," in the special women's health issue of Biological Research for Nursing.

In it, she raises concerns about the physical and emotional impact on bedridden mothers and notes that hospital stays deny women the opportunity to rest in the comfort of their homes, with the support of their families.

Maloni points to gaps in the current literature and suggests that more evidence is needed.

Gaps in research also exist if bed rest harms or benefits the baby, Maloni said.

Bed rest for experiencing early contractions or other pregnancy problems, such as high blood pressure, multiple babies, potential blood clotting or bleeding, can be prescribed for a few days or a few months.

Since 1989, Maloni has been a leader in the study of best rest during pregnancy. Her current research draws from study in the fields of aerospace, nursing, medicine, psychology, social science and biological sciences.

For example, she says, aerospace studies tell us that when a body is in a resting position, a series of physiological changes take places to adjust to this non weight-bearing position.

"Over time, remaining in a resting position can lead to bone loss and muscle atrophy," Maloni said.

But for expectant mothers confided to bed for nearly 24 hours a day, it can also bring on depression, and possibly post traumatic shock disorder as women are left with nothing to do but worry that every contraction could bring about a pre-term birth.

"Nurses can challenge best-rest treatment by functioning as advocates for women and educating them about the evidence for treatment as well as the risks and benefits, if any, of this practice," Maloni says.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Want to exercise more? Get yourself some competition

October 27, 2016

Imagine you're a CEO trying to get your employees to exercise. Most health incentive programs have an array of tools—pamphlets, websites, pedometers, coaching, team activities, step challenges, money—but what actually ...

Some breastfeeding advice worth ditching: US task force

October 25, 2016

A review of scientific evidence on breastfeeding out Tuesday found that some long-held advice is worth ditching, including that babies should avoid pacifiers and moms should breastfeed exclusively in the first days after ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.