This longitudinal study assessed change in gastrocnemius muscle metabolism across antepartum bed rest and recovery during the first 6 weeks postpartum as well as symptoms during recovery. The convenience sample consisted of 65 pregnant women, hospitalized on bed rest for a mean of 24.8 days (range 5–70 days). A dual wavelength hemoglobin/myoglobin spectrophotometer and ergometer assessed muscle reoxygenation times after plantar flexion exercise from hospital admission through 6 weeks postpartum. The Postpartum Symptom Checklist assessed symptoms of muscle deconditioning. The time for gastrocnemius muscle reoxygenation after exercise significantly increased across antepartum bed rest (t = −2.1, P < .05) and significantly decreased during the 6-week postpartum period (t = 1.83, P < .05). Women who were on bed rest prior to hospital admission had significantly higher reoxygenation scores upon enrollment (t = −8.6, P < .05). Symptoms of postpartum muscle soreness, deconditioning, and difficulty with mobility were reported. Postpartum assessment and rehabilitation are needed to facilitate recovery and prevent long-term injury.

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