Between pain, anxiety, and waking up to feed your baby, getting a good night’s sleep after childbirth is pretty impossible. Well, at least for a little while. And if you're also recovering from a cesarean section surgery at the same time, you might wonder what the best sleeping positions after a C-section actually are (or, honestly, if they exist at all). At such a chaotic time in your life, filled with so much change, it's important to rest so you can help your body recover from something as intrusive as major abdominal surgery.
While most experts agree the best sleeping position after surgery is on your back, there’s a special way they recommend getting out of bed after a C-section. It’s not recommended to rise straight up out of bed from your back after the surgery. Instead, you should first roll onto your side, and use your arms — and not your abs — to help you sit up.
You will be sore for a few weeks after surgery, so it's best to keep your baby close by when you sleep. Then again, you should take care to not fall asleep with your baby in bed, especially if you are taking narcotic pain medication after surgery. “Babies who sleep in adult beds with adults are at an increased risk of strangulation, suffocation, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS),” board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Kerry-Anne Perkins, M.D., tells Romper.
One 2015 study published in the journal CHEST found that the safest sleep position for new moms — especially C-section moms who had anesthesia during delivery — is with their upper body elevated to reduce the risk of breathing problems.
No matter what position you try, you might find that using lots of pillows to support your legs and back will help you get comfortable after your C-section, as it “helps to align your body in a neutral position,” says Perkins. “This is optimal for healing. Pillows or even a rolled blanket can support your arms, legs, knees, back, and hips.” So, with that in mind, if you're on the mend and caring for your little one, here's how to sleep after a C-section.
If you still can’t get comfortable, talk to your doctor about how you can get better sleep in those first few weeks with your little one. With a careful post-op recovery plan, you’ll be back to sleeping more normally — well, as normal as one can sleep with a crying baby in the house.
Zaremba, S., Mueller, N., Heisig, A. M., Shin, C. H., Jung, S., Leffert, L. R., Bateman, B. T., Pugsley, L. J., Nagasaka, Y., Duarte, I. M., Ecker, J. L., & Eikermann, M. (2015). Elevated upper body position improves pregnancy-related OSA without impairing sleep quality or sleep architecture early after delivery. Chest, 148(4), 936–944. https://doi.org/10.1378/chest.14-2973