My twins at 20 weeks, just before I went on bed rest.

By Contributor Pamela Chan

Four months of bed rest during pregnancy isn’t the longest bed rest ever but for me it certainly was a commitment. Three months into my pregnancy with twins I started to feel symptoms that gradually increased. Bed rest, it turned out, was the best option. My bed rest took place in 2009 – much of it during an intense heat wave. Here are some strategies that helped:

  • My mother-in-law was busy cooking meat loaves and bringing food over to help feed me. My goal was to eat a lot of protein and drink enough water. My husband was busy shopping for food too and cooking in our Yaletown condo kitchen while I gave him tips from the couch. He is not a home chef and has completely blocked out this experience! If you know someone on bed rest, helping out with cooking or shopping is a major contribution to the family and the unborn child.
  • I didn’t watch TV all day but focussed on favourite shows in the afternoon. I’ve never been keen on daytime TV but did enjoy watching Steven and Chris and Food Network shows. I felt like I was learning a lot of interesting and useful information. My favourite chef shows included The Main, featuring the late Anthony Sedlak; Chef at Home, with Chef Michael Smith; and, Giadia de Laurentiis.
  • I ended up watching a lot of sporting tournaments as most of my day was spent on the couch. In the evening my husband would watch tennis, golf, hockey and other sports. This forced me to learn more about sports that I hadn’t spent a lot of time watching before. It was a good way to find new conversation topics to share with my husband as I learned more about the rules and sports gossip.
  • I read a lot of articles online and in hard copy (magazines and books) about young babies and related topics. I collected information and clippings and put them in a notebook. Ironically after the children were born I never went back to refer to the notebook. I tried to keep myself informed on issues that I faced but avoided stressful birth-related stories.
  • My husband and I met with a doula. In the end we were not able to use her services as we had a planned c-section. We didn’t even get to use the knowledge we gained learning about and watching videos of doula assisted births.
  • I crocheted and assembled one baby blanket and crocheted but didn’t assemble a second. (It’s still unassembled 4 1/2 years later!)


  • Of course I connected with friends on social media.
  • I read novels.
  • I wrote in a blog but hadn’t yet started my current site (which was launched in January, 2010).
  • I stayed in front of a water cooler and wore light clothing. The heat in our south facing condo was stifling.
  • I enjoyed visits from nurses who checked up on my babies’ progress. We shared notes and visited while they did their tests.
  • I watched shows online that introduced me to new lifestyles. I particularly enjoyed watching shows about living off the grid in Great Britain or cooking and gardening in Ireland.
  • I waited, prayed and was happy when each week passed and we were one number higher. Our goal was to get as close to week 30 and beyond.
  • I rested.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I had to take a little stool with me to help me get from the car to the OB’s office. The symptoms were getting more intense. I also wore a band to help to avoid symptoms related to the weight of the babies. Some mums go to full term with their twins and can walk throughout their pregnancy. Every pregnancy is unique. My twins were delivered three weeks early to help one of them do better in the nursery. I remember two days before they arrived I couldn’t fit between the table and the bench chair at a White Spot!

As you can see my routine during bed rest was pretty simple and what you might expect when someone is on bed rest. Due to the seriousness of the situation, I didn’t mind the requirement and was grateful that my boss had arranged for this medical leave. I felt that it really gave my twins the best physical environment in which to develop.

Some mums on bed rest will have a toddler with them as well. Since this was not my experience I can’t predict how the routine would have been different. Some mothers get by without help but I wouldn’t be one of them, I suspect.

Before I was born my mother and brother (two years my senior) moved from New York city to a farm in northern Alberta where my grandparents lived. For five months they awaited my birth. My mother was experiencing a complication that made it too dangerous for her to deliver in east Africa, where my family was living at the time. The doctors advised that there was a danger that either my mother or I might be at risk during the delivery. They spent a further six weeks there after my birth before heading off to join up with my father.

Thinking about this experience I realize that moving home with my parents wasn’t an option as they live on Vancouver Island and my doctors were in Vancouver. Perhaps my parents could have stationed themselves temporarily in the Lower Mainland with us if we already had a toddler. Either that or we would have hired someone to come and help out. (This is most likely what we would have done.) Both my parents and my mother-in-law were very helpful in the months leading up to the birth of our twins and afterwards. When there are challenges during a pregnancy you really do need family and friends gathering around you.

Since I was on bed rest there are many new ways that you can study and learn more online. There are free webinars and non-credit university courses that you can take, for example. You can use the time to pick up new skills or even take an online course for credit. If you are on bed rest, or think you might have to go this route, rest assured that this is for the best. The time will go by pretty quickly and you will find ways to pass the time.

Pamela Chan lives in the Tri Cities area near Vancouver with her husband and four year old twins. They enjoy exploring cultural events and scenic local parks. On she writes about ideas that that strengthen our communities and celebrate multiculturalism in British Columbia.