Working on Limited Bed Rest

Being a mum and running a business is an incredibly hard but rewarding combination, my first baby was my business but soon took second place when my son arrived 2 years ago. As my son grew so did my business; we needed to employ staff and everyone working on my dining table wasn’t feasible! I also found I needed to work 2 days in the office to manage, as well as from home the other 3 days/nights to actually get things done.

I consider myself very lucky to be in the situation where I can spend time with my son and don’t have to sacrifice my career, but my broodometer seemed to start ticking again and I wanted a sibling for my son. I didn’t see this being a problem, I would have another child take limited maternity and although we were concerned an extra child would be double the work and twice as hard we would be more prepared than with our first.

We were lucky to get pregnant but it soon became clear that this pregnancy was not going to be plain sailing. Without going into too much detail I was rushed into hospital on a number of occasions and warned the baby would be premature (pre 30 weeks) if I didn’t slow down.

Slowing down when you have a toddler and a business is very difficult to do but your health and your child’s health has to take priority. I have a toddler and a business yet am being told not to walk, lift, drive, swim, push prams or trolleys for fear of premature labour or other complications. I am not to be more than 40 minutes from a hospital at any time and have had to cancel a lot of events, including a holiday abroad and am warned that one more hospital overnighter will turn to admission until the baby is born.

I am still pregnant but have amazed the doctors by making it past 30 weeks but like a ticking time bomb I cannot become complacent and have had to come up with some solutions for working from home – on limited bed rest.

The 3 main issues are spending time with your toddler, working from home and stopping yourself from going nuts!

Toddler time

A new baby can be a strange time for a toddler, they can’t always understand what is happening and my son is much more interested in cars than babies. The last thing I wanted to do was to make my son feel pushed out by the new baby and while I can’t do the usual things with him I worry he will see this as being pushed out. My son is a big boy and lifting him is a big risk for me, he has also just turned 2 which seem to have its own clingy stage (unless this is from the fact I cannot lift him).

Here are my tips for looking after a toddler while on bed rest:

  • Structured/organised play time – I make a point of having more structured play time with him, this is good for any child but I rely on his nap times to work so I need him to be tired (this sounds awful). Stimulating play in the house such as role play on the floor, painting, crafts, learning games and dancing are great ways to play with your child, they love the attention and helps them develop. Unfortunately it is winter or a paddling pool and outside water games would be great even in a small garden.
  • Exercise – I cannot walk long distances so taking my son out for walks and giving him fresh air is hard to do. My son is a boisterous 2 year old and some people have recommended treating him like a dog with 2 walks daily. Normally we are out and about all the time but in this pregnancy it can’t be done. This is where I rely on other dog rearing techniques, a ball or stick that I get my son to throw, kick and fetch. He loves being outside and I can sit on a bench or in my small garden and we can play together him running round and round and me encouraging him from a safe seat.
  • Lifting and cuddling – Lifting a heavy child is not recommended in my condition but my son is my baby and cannot understand why his Mummy who used to pick him up and cuddle him
    all the time can’t do this anymore. When he reaches up to be picked up I have to lead him to a seat or sit down to get a full cuddle. I find this nice as instead of using all my strength to lift him I can give him a proper cuddle. I also have to make use of steps so my son can step aided into the bath and step up into a cot with limited assistance. Of course when Daddy is home he can take over these activities but we cannot rely on Daddy being home so strategies needed to be found. I have had to encourage my toddler to go down the stairs backwards whilst I am close to keep him balanced.

Working from Home/Bed

The best position for me is lying down with my feet up, sounds great doesn’t it! However it is not the best position to work in. Even the usual pregnancy ailments such as a bad back can make working from home difficult but trying to work from a lying position is much harder.

  • Remember to eat and drink – this is for all work at home mums, whether you are pregnant or just have a little one relying on you, you need to stay healthy. Without colleagues getting up for tea breaks and lunch it is easy to get so focussed on your work you forget to eat and drink make sure you have plenty of water and give yourself plenty of breaks – especially if you are working on a computer. Try to get in simple, quick and easy to prepare healthy foods and snacks.
  • Invest in a decent laptop or tablet – This only applies to people who work on a computer, depending on the work you need to do you should get a lightweight laptop or tablet to
    work from. Something that doesn’t heat up too much if you rest it on your bump and can be used in bed or from a seat or sofa with your feet up. If, like me, you have been in and out of hospital make sure you can add a dongle with internet access to use in hospital as many
    hospitals will not allow you wifi.
  • Use online services to liaise projects – If you work with a team you need to know what they are doing and they need to know what you are doing. This is also useful when working with a number of freelancers. I personally use Google Drive to set up task lists and project lists, but there are many other cloud services you can use. I also like to use Dropbox to share large
    files, rather than clogging up emails.
  • There’s an app for that – I switch between using my laptop and a tablet computer that has a keyboard attachment. When using the Android tablet I have an app that allows me to log into my work computer as long as I have internet access. This particular app is called Splashtop 2 and I use the premium version to log in via a different location. This has been invaluable as I can have access to shared office files, emails and all my archived work. If you do have a tablet computer and have a job to do it is worth looking for an app that will help you as there are thousands of great work based apps that can make your life easier.

Keeping your sanity

I am not sure I am the best person to advise but I do have a few tips on not going completely insane and stir crazy.

  • Move – I am not allowed to do too much, but too little can be equally as bad as you are prone to DVTs (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and muscle and ligament aches and pains. Whether you are pregnant or not, if you are working from home especially at a computer, then you need to take regular breaks to get up, make a drink, move around. If like me you are to avoid gravity then lie on the sofa and stretch your legs a bit, just low maintenance movements that don’t put a strain on your core and abdomen, use your arms to pull your legs (if you can reach). If in doubt a turn around the living room should get the blood circulating again and is a good break.
  • Social Media – this is a tricky one as too much time on social media is not a good way to spend your time working from home as you can get sucked in. However, you may be missing valuable adult conversations and support. It is very hard if you are working from bed as you are even more limited so use social media to keep a finger on the real world. There are many ‘Mummy forums’ like WAHMweb where you can get support from people in the same situation as you, or at least people who are sympathetic! Other social media networks may also keep you sane and less likely to get too sucked into your own situations. It is not healthy to be sat thinking about your situation as you tend to worry about worse case scenarios and hormones can make you more prone to ante natal or post natal depression. Keeping in touch with reality can be a God send to take your mind off things and keep you focused.
  • Phone people – don’t hide behind your emails or social media, use this time to talk to friends and family and if you can talk to your clients. Speaking to grownups can make you feel like you feel less isolated.

Most of these tips are only relevant if you work from a computer or do office work but hopefully if you are in the same situation as me you will be able to identify with these and they will help you. If you can make use of any friends and family, if people will come and visit or help you out with childcare e.g. taking your toddler out for fresh air, or helping with cooking and cleaning (dare you ask the Mother in Law). Unfortunately these situations are incredibly hard but you need to look after yourself and your baby and it is only a limited time but the more you can look after yourself at this time the better chance you have of a healthy baby.