Giving birth is a life-changing experience for any woman. And a monumental challenge. If you delivered a baby through a C-section, the recovery period will take several weeks and won’t be easy. That’s why it’s critical to take advice from the experts and make your life as comfortable as possible. We’ll help tackle one major problem: finding the best position to sleep.
Why is sleeping a problem for new moms?
Although a C-section or cesarean section is a routine delivery procedure, it is still considered major abdominal surgery. The mother’s body goes through great stress and needs time for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, a new baby and additional responsibilities make the recovery process problematic. It is natural for a woman to prioritize the baby and not herself. But let’s try to do both.
Sleeping is crucial for a speedy recovery, but after the surgery, it is difficult to find a comfortable and pain-free position to sleep. The incision site still causes discomfort.
Besides, many women develop a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) which can be quite dangerous. Due to hormonal dis-balance and extra volume of the abdomen during pregnancy, the airway loses the ability to function properly. Once in a while, it simply collapses. A proper sleeping position makes it easier to cope with OSA.
There are four main sleeping positions for the first few weeks after a C-section.
Let’s look at each one of them.
Position 1 — on the back
Many specialists agree that this is the best sleeping position. And a lot of women after a C-section find that it is the most comfortable position, allowing them to fall asleep faster and have high sleep quality.
What makes this position comfortable? — First, lack of pressure on the incision site. And as a result — a faster healing process.
Unfortunately, if you have problems with your blood pressure, this sleeping position may be unsuitable for you, and you need to discuss this issue with the doctor.
One more precaution: when you get out of bed from this position, don’t just sit up. You will put pressure on the incision site. Roll slowly to the side and then rise without a strain on your abdomen. Instead, use your elbows for support.
Position 2 — on the side
Sleeping on the side is the second recommended position. This is the position advised to women in the late term of the pregnancy and after the delivery too. It is a comfortable sleeping position with no strain on the abdominal area.
Doctors recommend using a body pillow to support the belly and decrease possible discomfort. And it is easier to stand up from this sleeping position. A small tip: when trying to stand up, breathe out. It will make it easier.
Position 3 — elevated sleeping
An elevated upper body position can be comfortable, too. Use plenty of pillows to prop up the entire upper body. Besides comfort, this sleeping position is helpful if you are suffering from OSA. It makes the airflow unobstructed.
Pillows are always a great help for those recovering after a C-section. If you are sleeping on the back, use them to support your thighs and knees. If you prefer sleeping on the side, put a pillow in front of or behind you. They can help a lot in these first few weeks of recovery.
Position 4 — sleeping upright
If other sleeping positions don’t work, you may want to try sleeping in a recliner or on a sofa. Sleeping in a comfortable seated position can take some time to get used to. But it’s really effective if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea or high blood pressure.
And it’s not impairing sleep quality at all. This position is also convenient for breastfeeding. Use as many pillows as you need and try to fall asleep, letting your body recover.
So, these are the best sleeping positions for women after the C-section.
As we’ve already mentioned before, sleep is critical for the body’s recovery after a major surgery.
We want to share a few tips on how to sleep better and let your body heal.
How to sleep better
Don’t skip your meds
If you were prescribed pain medication after the C-section, don’t stop taking it. Some new moms are scared that they wouldn’t be able to care for their babies if they were on pain meds, but it’s not true.
Following the doctor’s prescriptions is important; otherwise, you can end up with severe pain and won’t be able to take care of your baby. Also, the pain will prevent you from having a good night’s sleep and slow down your recovery.
The doctor knows if you are breastfeeding and wouldn’t prescribe anything that could harm the baby.
Important: don’t take any sleeping pills if your doctor did not prescribe them.
When your doctor allows, begin light exercise. It will take time to return to your normal routine, but you can start with small steps. Short walks, stretching, maybe Pilates… They will improve blood circulation, boost metabolism, and revive the muscles. If you were in good shape before, your body will quickly remember the routine and get back into shape.
Physical activity does wonder, and you will have good quality sleep in no time.
Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for your recovery after a C-section, for adequate sleep, and for a perfect physical form.
Eat food rich in iron, vitamins, Omega-3, and lean proteins. Anti-inflammatory foods are also highly recommended. Among them are nuts, fish, beans, and whole grains. Add fruits and veggies to your diet: spinach and kale reduce inflammation, as well as broccoli and cabbage. Cherries, blackberries, and raspberries will be great too.
Don’t overindulge in caffeinated drinks.
Stay well hydrated. It will enhance your healing process.
A balanced diet is very important for good quality sleep too. Stomach issues can prevent you from a good sleep.
Create a safe sleeping environment. It’s important not only for a newborn baby but for a mother too.
You should feel safe and protected. It will help you get better sleep and stay asleep for longer periods.
Full and rapid recovery after a C-section delivery is important. After childbirth, a young mother is fragile. Her body is in pain. Her mental state can be compromised with the beginning of postpartum depression. She is exhausted by all the new responsibilities. These are trying times for a woman.
So, it’s critical to do everything possible to help. And finding the best sleeping positions is one of the ways to do so. It can be a single sleeping position that will work. Or maybe changing from one to another will be the best. For some women, it’s hard to sleep after a C. Besides, not everyone is lucky, and their baby sleeps at night.
Try the sleep positions that we described in our article. They have been approved by experts and proved effective by mothers.
We would like to add one more thing here. In this hard period, a young mother needs support and help from her family and friends. Love and care do wonders in healing wounds and restoring health.
Frequently asked questions
Do and don’ts after C-section delivery?
It’s crucial to consult your doctor for detailed instructions on postpartum aftercare.
Here are some basic tips on what to do and what not to do after a C-section:
- Take pain medication that your doctor prescribes for you. You shouldn’t suffer from pain.
- Take care of the wound. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to clean the area and keep it dry.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Anti-inflammatory foods, and foods with vitamin C and Omega-3 will be a great help.
- Ask for help. You shouldn’t be alone in this. Your partner, family, friends, or professionals will give you a hand.
- Don’t rush. Do everything slowly. Start light exercise only when allowed by the doctor.
- Don’t drive for 4-6 weeks. Doctors don’t recommend it after a C-section.
- Don’t have sex. Usually, women after a C-section are advised to abstain from sex for 4-6 weeks. It’s major surgery, and the body requires time for healing.
How can I get my C-section to heal faster?
Before doing anything, you need to consult your doctor. They will provide you with detailed recommendations.
Here are some basic tips:
- Care about the incision area. Keep it clean and dry.
- Start light exercise when the doctor allows it. Don’t overdo it. Physical activity will speed up the recovery.
- Get enough rest. Physical exhaustion will make you prone to infections, and you need to avoid it.
- Eat well. Get enough nutrients, vitamins, and microelements. Stay well-hydrated. A well-balanced diet is vital.