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Laid Up Until Labor

A 12-step bed rest survival kit

More expecting moms are experiencing high-risk pregnancies – and put on bed rest till labor. For me, it happened early. In my 16th week of pregnancy, my doctor recommended I have a cervical cerclage – my cervix was stitched shut to prevent preterm delivery of my baby, Stephane. After the procedure, I was "laid up."

While I had everything I needed at my fingertips, it was a monotonous routine until I was finally admitted to the hospital in week 22. I survived with a very supportive, loving husband, a great friend who visited almost daily, my family – and the following items, which could come in handy to any expecting mom who's been prescribed bed rest.

1. Journal. The staples are obvious: Books, magazines, TV, DVD player, iPod. But they get old. I found writing a therapeutic alternative. Every day, I recorded my feelings, what happened that day and all the medical treatments prescribed. It kept me busy, and it became useful when different doctors asked about my condition. Today, I read it for entertainment.

2. Flashlight. This was a "most-used" tool. At night in the hospital, it was lights-out at 10 p.m. But for someone who's been lying around all day, this was almost impossible. I used a mini light on a stand to read or write letters. It was also helpful at home when my husband wanted to get some sleep.

3. Pillows. There's nothing like having your own pillow (and a good body pillow). Hospital pillows are stiff, flat and generally uncomfortable; that makes bringing your own crucial. Even at home, pillows can help you adjust and find comfort, too.

4. Relaxation tapes. You'd think that lying around all day would help you relax. No way! It can actually make you stressed: You feel confined, you're worried about your condition, and your family and friends are gone or asleep (read: no distractions). To ease my mind, I'd put on my earphones and let the music put me to sleep.

5. Facemask and earplugs. All pregnant women could benefit from a nap during the day – even those on bed rest. These help you block out the light and the sounds. Consider a facemask scented with lavender.

6. Audio books. Your eyes are busy all day – reading, watching TV, writing and even staring out the window. Give them a rest and listen to a good story (another good way to block out noise).

7. Pampering. My sister painted my nails and my husband brushed my hair. Do anything that makes you feel good.

8. Learn. Know how you always said you'd learn a language if you had the time? What about that cross-stitch you've been eyeing? Now's your chance. My sister-in-law taught me how to knit, and I had French tapes next to my bed. Both helped occupy my time and made me feel like I was using it well.

9. Decorate. A sterile hospital room can be a downer. I spruced mine up with a tropical theme: Giant palm tree, plush monkeys, pineapple and sun decor and streamers, all from a party supply store. Visitors added to my island oasis. When I was discharged, I donated the items to the children's floor.

10. New pajamas. Being in bad day after day can make you feel pretty down in the dumps. But a simple wardrobe shift can do wonders. Opt for something a little stylish, but comfortable. If you have to be in pj's most of the day, get new ones that make you feel hip and young.

11. Countdown calendar. The days can seem endless. I had a calendar on my wall showing every month that I was on bed rest. As each day passed, my husband crossed off the day with a thick red marker. I could see my progress and was proud.

12. Nightstand essentials. Stock up on easy-to-reach essentials: notepad, pen, stationery, antibacterial hand gel, tissues, lip balm, healthy snacks, a pitcher of water, crossword or Sudoku puzzles, playing cards and any other "solo" games. At home, even fish bowl complete with fish can be a surprisingly entertaining and relaxing.

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