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Mt Sinai J Med. 2011 Mar-Apr;78(2):291-302. doi: 10.1002/msj.20243.

Bed rest in pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.


The use of bed rest in medicine dates back to Hippocrates, who first recommended bed rest as a restorative measure for pain. With the formalization of prenatal care in the early 1900s, maternal bed rest became a standard of care, especially toward the end of pregnancy. Antepartum bed rest is a common obstetric management tool, with up to 95% of obstetricians utilizing maternal activity restriction in some way in their practice. Bed rest is prescribed for a variety of complications of pregnancy, from threatened abortion and multiple gestations to preeclampsia and preterm labor. Although the use of bed rest is pervasive, there is a paucity of data to support its use. Additionally, many well-documented adverse physical, psychological, familial, societal, and financial effects have been discussed in the literature. There have been no complications of pregnancy for which the literature consistently demonstrates a benefit to antepartum bed rest. Given the well-documented adverse effects of bed rest, disruption of social relationships, and financial implications of this intervention, there is a real need for scientific investigation to establish whether this is an appropriate therapeutic modality. Well-designed randomized, controlled trials of bed rest versus normal activity for various complications of pregnancy are required to lay this debate to rest once and for all.

© 2011 Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

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