Pelvic Rest during Pregnancy: Reasons & Benefits

Pelvic Rest during Pregnancy: Reasons & Benefits

Pelvic rest in pregnancy is a medical term used in obstetrics that indicates that a pregnant woman has been asked to avoid sexual activity during her term. What kind of sexual activity is restricted could be clarified by the doctor. A pregnant lady might be asked to adhere to pelvic rest during pregnancy owing to several things that a doctor suspects are going on in her pregnancy. The concept of pelvic rest needs a specific, standardised definition. Therefore, you should consult your healthcare provider regarding the specific actions or activities to abstain from if they recommend it. Continue reading the following post to learn about situations that might necessitate pelvic rest and to identify symptoms to monitor during your pregnancy.

What Does Pelvic Rest Mean?

Pelvic rest is an obstetric language for avoiding sexual activity during pregnancy. In layman’s terms, it means “no sex”. Pelvic rest is recommended based on various conditions during pregnancy. It means no sexual activity of any kind, especially one that involves penetration.

Pelvic rest, in some instances, also includes restraints on any kind of activity that increases the pressure on the pelvis or causes the pelvic muscles to contract. Brisk walking, vigorous exercises for the lower body, squatting are some activities that cause stress to the pelvic area. In short, any activity that could strain the pelvic activity could be restricted if pelvic rest is recommended.

Pelvic rest is not the same as bed rest. You could do most activities if on pelvic rest, albeit your activity does not involve any unnecessary strain on the pelvic region. If you are advised bed rest, you will have more limitations, and several activities will be restricted.

What Is the Duration of Pelvic Rest in Pregnancy?

Typically, pelvic rest initiates on the same day as your embryo transfer and continues until your doctor approves the resumption of regular sexual activity. Consequently, given the unique nature of each pregnancy, there will be considerable variation in the time that pelvic rest is upheld.

Possible Reasons For Being Advised For Pelvic Rest During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman having pelvic pain

You may be put on pelvic rest by your medical practitioner if any of the below apply to you:

1. Bleeding or spotting during pregnancy

Bleeding or spotting could be a red flag during pregnancy. Sometimes, it could be active bleeding due to subchorionic haemorrhage, bleeding under the placenta or miscarriage. Bleeding at the start of pregnancy is common, which gets resolved later. In such circumstances, the need for pelvic rest may change.

2. History of pre-term labour

History of pre-term labour could warrant pelvic rest. Sexual activity could prove to be detrimental and it is advisable to check with the practitioner and your partner before you get pregnant.

3. Risk of pre-term labour

Sexual intercourse increases the chances of a woman going into labour. Women at risk of premature delivery may be advised pelvic rest.

4. Placenta Previa

Placenta Previa is where the placenta is placed below the cervix instead of the side of the uterus. You could have full or partial placenta previa. However, sexual intercourse could mean irritation to the cervix and damage to the placenta that will cause bleeding or even pre-term labour. One should have complete pelvic rest for placenta previa.

5. Cervical complications

Shortened, incompetent, or insufficient cervix, as it is called, is a medical condition occurrence that doctors are not sure about. It is a dangerous situation where the cervix can get dilated without regular contractions or pain.

6. Hernia

Women who have hernia before pregnancy or develop it during pregnancy are at high risk. If the hernia is in a place where the woman could risk pre-term labour, doctors will recommend pelvic rest.

7. History of miscarriage

Women who have a history of miscarriages are at risk of going into pre-term labour. Miscarriages make the uterus weak and could also result in cervical complications.

Benefits of Pelvic Rest

Being unable to indulge in sex during pregnancy can make you feel a bit run down. Especially when looking at your best- glowing skin, shiny hair, and the glint in your eyes. But pelvic rest while pregnant is advised for a good reason. It is just to ensure that there is no increase in pressure on the pelvic region of contractions of the pelvic muscles. The contractions to pelvic muscles can cause pre-term labour, especially if you experience bleeding during pregnancy or have a history of miscarriages. Pelvic rest is to provide your pelvic area with ample rest to reduce any risk during your term. It is to keep any high-risk pregnancy under check to ensure delivery is as safe as possible.

Is Pelvic Rest Different From Bed Rest?

If you have been advised pelvic rest, it does not mean you cannot do any physical activity. The primary restriction is on engaging in any kind of sexual activity that involves penetration. In some exceptional cases, heavy exercises like brisk walking, squatting or lower body vigorous exercises could be restricted too. This will be recommended if your health practitioner thinks it is necessary. In a nutshell, any activity that involves pressure on your pelvic region should be avoided. Unlike bed rest where you are restricted from doing most activities that involve not exerting your whole body, pelvic rest lets you carry on with your normal day-to-day activities.

Things You Can Do to Survive Pelvic Rest

pregnant lady reading book

You can do several things to keep yourself occupied and take your mind off the restriction of pelvic rest. From learning a new skill, spending time with your firstborn, and relaxing to just doing something to kill time, here is a list to skim through and find something that suits you.

1. New And Creative Skill Sets

  • Indulge in some arts or crafts activity that you enjoy. You could paint a picture that you wish to hang in the nursery or take to knitting. There is no greater joy than knitting your baby’s first mittens.
  • Write your pregnancy days in a journal as you slowly inch towards the big day. It could serve as a great memoir in the days to come.
  • You might want to take several pictures of you and your partner during this phase. Start putting your baby album or photo book with these pictures and fill them up over time.
  • Once you have the baby, this is the best time to sign up for an online course related to your career or something you wish to pursue. Once the baby comes, you will have no time to get any certifications for the future.
  • If you love to learn languages, then learn a new one. It could be useful in the future when your child goes to school.

2. Relaxing Activities

Indulge in some downtime and let your guard down. You will not have this spare time on your hands soon.

  • Make a list of books you would like to read and try to finish it.
  • Binge-watch your favourite shows on TV. Watch all the episodes, seasons, and re-runs to stay up-to-date.
  • Watch those movies that you have loved and the ones that you never got down to watch.
  • Keep in touch with your friends and organize some meet-ups just to enjoy.

3. Mood Lifting Activities

You could also focus on activities that lift your spirits and prove to be cathartic for you.

  • A great start would be to organise your baby’s room and closets to make space for the baby’s things.
  • Organise and de-clutter your closet, clothes, and personal items. You may not find time to do it later.
  • If you have a list of what you need for the baby, go shopping. Shop online, order the stuff you need and keep it ready.
  • Get your partner or spouse to play games or put puzzles together.
  • When you have a home, you always have a project to accomplish. You may want to draw plans to refurbish your kitchen, change the upholstery in your lounge furniture, or even redecorate your bedroom.
  • Indulge in a manicure and pedicure to give those hands and feet some tender love and care. A great session at the salon could uplift your mood for a good few weeks.

Ways to Sustain Intimacy While on Pelvic Rest

When on pelvic rest, orgasm could be something that you desperately seek. It is that urge that you cannot indulge in, and yet you wish to. You are looking a million bucks, and your partner cannot take his eyes off you. Pelvic rest restricts penetration into the vagina which could add pressure to the pelvic region, which is not advised. But there are many other ways to get intimate without having sex:

  • Hold hands whenever you get a chance. Cuddle at every possible occasion to keep that fire going.
  • Get your partner to give you a good massage. You could give one to your partner too. Massages are not just relaxing in a great way of feeling close to each other physically
  • Don’t forget to give each other a hug and a kiss. A good morning kiss, kissing your partner goodbye, and a good night kiss for a peaceful sleep is a mantra for a smooth pregnancy.
  • Talk and have frequent conversations about how you both feel. Sharing your thoughts and feelings will make you feel lighter and bring you closer.
  • Play Scrabble, Ludo, and Chess, or put puzzles together. It is amazing how these games get couples closer to each other.
  • Watch romantic movies to reminisce about your good times for the great ones ahead.
  • Pull out those albums from the closet and skim through those wedding photos and holiday snaps to walk down memory lane.
  • This is a great time to discuss your plans and decide how to save for the future, your plans for the house, and your family.

Does Pelvic Rest Affect Pregnancy?

Pelvic rest does not affect pregnancy and is recommended by doctors to avoid any complications during pregnancy. Pelvic rest during the first trimester is advised by a doctor only if he suspects that any kind of sexual activity could involve pressure on your pelvic region, which in turn will have a negative impact on your pregnancy. Your doctor will diagnose your situation and talk you through it. Your doctor will explain the reason for the recommendation and how long you must be on it. Pelvic rest is to maintain a healthy pregnancy to deliver a healthy baby.

When You Should See a Doctor?

You need to call a doctor if you notice the below symptoms during pregnancy and have been advised pelvic rest.

  • Pain in the back or any premature contractions.
  • Bleeding from your vagina or any kind of fluid discharge from the vagina.
  • If you suffer a cervical cerclage and you notice that the cerclage is not placed appropriately.
  • If you succumb to your carnal desires and have sex when advised pelvic rest.
  • If you suffer any injury or accident owing to a fall or a car accident.

If, during your pregnancy, you are experiencing certain complications, your medical practitioner will put you on pelvic rest after a diagnosis. Be assured that it is not something to be overly worried about. There are several ways to deal with it; in most cases, it is only temporary. When your doctor advises pelvic rest, it is done in the best interests of your health and pregnancy. It is to ensure that you and your baby are safe. A little caution hurts no one, and pelvic rest is a precaution to get you through a smooth pregnancy.

References/Resources:

1. Bieber. K. B, Olson. S. M; Cervical Cerclage; NIH; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560523/; July 2023

2. Ghamar. B, Anthony. S, Yaneve. F; Activity Rest Prescription and Compliance in Women With Short Cervix; Obstetrics & Gynecology; https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/abstract/2020/05001/activity_rest_prescription_and_compliance_in_women.398.aspx; May 2020

3. Mouri. M, Hall. H, Rupp. T. J; Threatened Abortion; NIH; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430747/; September 2022

4. Lauder. J, Sciscione. A, Biggio. J, et al.; Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Consult Series #50: The role of activity restriction in obstetric management; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8081556/; April 2020

5. Urgent Maternal Warning Signs; Center Of Disease Control And Prevention; https://www.cdc.gov/hearher/maternal-warning-signs/index.html

Also Read:

Pelvic Tilt Exercises in Pregnancy
Pelvic Girdle Pain while Pregnant
Effective Tips for Pelvic Exam during Pregnancy

Previous article «
Next article »
Gauri Ratnam completed her Masters in English Literature from the University of Pune. She began her journey as a German translator soon after completing her graduation, but later moved on to pursue her passion for writing. Having written for both digital and print media in a varied range of industries, she has the ability to write relatable and well-researched content, benefical for anyone seeking advice or direction.