Bed Rest During Pregnancy: What does the Evidence Say?

Although thousands of women are still prescribed bed rest during pregnancy each year, there is little evidence that best rest improves pregnancy outcomes. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Bed rest during pregnancy is no longer recommended for most conditions. While bed rest increases blood flow to the placenta, there is no evidence that it decreases the risk of premature birth.”1

In fact, bed rest can cause harm to pregnant women, according to researcher and OB-GYN Anne Drapkin Lyerly.2 According to Dr. Lyerly, blood clots are a risk. Women on bed rest also may lose muscle tone, become depressed, or suffer weakened bones and reduced lung capacity. Economic hardship can also be a factor if pregnant women can’t continue working, or if others have to stop working to care for them. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now cautions against bed rest, due to lack of evidence that it prevents preterm birth and may cause other problems.3

Some healthcare providers continue to recommend bed rest, thinking it can’t hurt and it might help, but the evidence show otherwise.

  1. Bed rest during pregnancy: Get the facts. Accessed Nov. 28, 2018.
  2. “Therapeutic” bed rest in pregnancy: unethical and unsupported by data. McCall, CA, Grinmes, DA, Lyerly, AD. 2013 Jun;121(6):1305-8.
  3. Did You Know? Cautioning Against Bed Rest and Why. Accessed Novl 28, 2018.