What Is Pelvic Rest?

In order to prevent any health or birth complications, many pregnant women will be advised by their doctors to take a period of pelvic rest.

However, despite this being a very common instruction, it’s not always exactly clear what it actually means, and what benefits it can even offer to a person’s body. 

What Is Pelvic Rest?

With that being said though, it’s very important to know what you should and should not be doing while on pelvic rest so that you don’t run the risk of experiencing any unpleasant physical issues, pains, and irritations, or going through a preterm labour. 

Therefore, to get you up to speed, we’ve got the full breakdown of what this term actually means right here, and why it is considered so important for pregnant women to practise. 

Who Should Go On A Pelvic Rest?

Pregnant women are the people who will be most commonly instructed to take a pelvic rest, but any women who have been experiencing pelvic issues such as a yeast infection or bleeding and discharge can also be advised to take it.

A pelvic rest can therefore also be hugely beneficial for any woman experiencing medical complications in their pelvis region and is very often used as a way to prevent any further irritation or pain (see also: How To Sleep With Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy)while the prescribed medication works its magic. 

What Does Pelvic Rest Mean?

Pelvic rest simply refers to a period of time when a person should abstain from inserting anything into their vagina.

This obviously includes tampons and any sexual activity, but it can also refer to activities which may put stress on the pelvic region too such as pelvic tilt exercises or heavy lifting. 

Of course, this can be a little different depending on your circumstance.

For example, most women will still be able to partake in non-penetrative sexual activities while on pelvic rest, so it’s always worth asking your doctor to be as specific as they can so that you know exactly what is allowed and what isn’t. 

Why Would Someone Require Pelvic Rest?

There are a few medical conditions that can appear in pregnant women that would mean they would need to go on pelvic rest so that there isn’t any risk of a birth going wrong.

Here are some of the biggest conditions that can cause a person to need to have a pelvic rest:


While it is a very rare occurrence, some women will develop a hernia before, or during their pregnancy, which puts them at a much higher risk of preterm labour, which can be incredibly stressful to deal with. 

While studies are yet to uncover the etiological factors that lead to hernia development, the role of the pelvic bone has been shown to be involved in some way, which is why it’s usually worth avoiding this area altogether when suffering from a hernia while pregnant. 

Full Placenta Previa

A placenta previa is when the placenta, which is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy, stretches across the bottom of the cervix, rather than remaining on the side of the uterus as it should. 

This means that anything entering the vagina can irritate the cervix and potentially cause damage to the placenta which can then lead to itchiness, bleeding, and in severe cases, can even put you into preterm labour. 

Pregnant women experiencing a full placenta previa will be advised to go on pelvic rest at least until the pregnancy is over, and when giving birth, they will need to have a caesarean delivery. 

Insufficient Cervix

Also sometimes referred to as an incompetent cervix, this is when the risk of premature birth is heightened because of the existence of weak cervical (see also: How Long Does It Take For A Cervical Cuff To Heal?)tissue, which in some cases, can even lead to the loss of a healthy pregnancy. 

What Is Pelvic Rest? (1)

Pregnant women should definitely go through a period of pelvic rest when suffering from an insufficient cervix since the weak tissue will already be putting a mild ache or pain on the pelvis, and inserting anything in the vagina will only make it worse. 

For many women, progesterone supplements will be enough to stave off a premature delivery when dealing with an insufficient cervix, but the issue can also be resolved in many cases through a surgical procedure called cervical cerclage. 

How Long Does Pelvic Rest Usually Last?

There’s no definitive amount of time that a pelvic rest will last, and the final decision should always be made by your doctor.

It also largely depends on the health issue, if it is something that has cropped up while the pregnancy was ongoing, and it is an issue that has remained after the child is born, then the period will probably last longer. 

However, in most cases, pelvic rest usually ends very soon after the pregnancy is finished. In terms of when a person will be told to go on pelvic rest, in most cases, this will usually begin on the day of the embryo transfer. 

Can You Still Remain Active While On Pelvic Rest?

Pelvic rest is not the same as bed rest, in the sense that you will still be able to go about all of your normal day-to-day activities, and will not need any more rest than normal. 

As long as nothing is being inserted into the vagina, and the person is not undertaking any exercises that can irritate the pelvis, then this will still be classed as pelvic rest. 

Because of this, pelvic rest is not likely to have any effects on the pregnancy itself, it is simply a practice that greatly reduces the risk of preterm labour and any further aches and pains that can already affect the pelvis area due to the weight of the baby. 


Going on a period(see also: What Is Bladder Incontinence During Your Period?) of pelvic rest for a few weeks or months is a very common instruction that will be given by many doctors to pregnant women, especially if the woman is experiencing medical issues around their pelvis. 

Luckily, you don’t have to be bedridden when going through this. You are still free to be as active as you were before, and once you finally have a successful and healthy pregnancy, the wait will be all worth it. 

Clare McAfee
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