Rest is paramount during the transitional time of postpartum recovery. For those who delivered by c section, getting quality sleep is also integral to physical healing as the body recovers from major abdominal surgery.
Of course, getting a good night’s sleep is often easier said than done when caring for a newborn. And beyond waking up for middle-of-the-night feedings, c section delivery can bring additional sleep challenges, like incision discomfort.
Fortunately, a few changes to your sleep routine can help you get the rest your body needs to heal. Below, we offer our best tips on how to sleep after c section delivery.
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A c section is a major procedure, with incisions made into both your abdomen and uterus. Incision care is an important consideration during recovery, and your choice of sleep position can support your physical healing.
Find a comfortable sleeping position that doesn’t put too much pressure on your incision site. Stomach sleeping isn’t a safe option until your incision has healed completely and sutures have been removed.
Fortunately, you’ve got several other options to consider. Choose what feels best for you during this time — which may be different from what you’re used to.
For additional comfort, place body pillows or rolled blankets beneath your knees and neck.
If you’re experiencing discomfort in your lower back, use a thinner support such as a rolled up hand towel — anything thicker can put too much pressure on joints that affect pelvic floor function.
Obstructive sleep apnea, which is characterized by disrupted breathing during sleep, is common during the postpartum period, and even more so among those who delivered by c section.
To prevent the sleep disorder, use supportive pillows to elevate your head and shoulders, positioning yourself at a 45-degree incline. Not only will this aid in your breathing, it will also reduce pressure on your incision site.
When sleeping in this position, place a pillow or rolled up blanket behind your knees to alleviate pain and tension in your lower back.
Side sleeping is another popular sleep position during c section recovery.
As with sleeping on your back or upright, side sleeping doesn’t strain the incision. It also has the added bonus of making it easy to get in and out of bed (more on that below!).
When side sleeping after a c section, always use a pillow between your knees. Use additional pillows or other supports as needed to keep your abs and hips as comfortable as possible.
For optimal blood flow and a digestive boost, many health experts recommend sleeping on the left side.
When sleeping on your back or in an upright position, be cautious when getting out of bed to avoid straining your incision.
At the beginning of your recovery, discomfort at the incision site may make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Many birthing people are able to treat c section pain and discomfort with ibuprofen, the generic name for Motrin® and Advil®.
Take it as needed, and if you are still experiencing pain, consult with a health professional about additional options.
Why not acetaminophen (Tylenol®)? Reducing inflammation is key to c section recovery. As an anti-inflammatory, ibuprofen is typically more effective at alleviating discomfort than acetaminophen. However, both medications are safe to take while breastfeeding.
Low bed frames are typically easier to get in and out of during c section recovery. Don’t be afraid to temporarily change your sleeping arrangement if needed.
If you have a higher bed frame, you may find it helpful to sleep on a comfortable couch or in a recliner the first few nights back at home.
Lastly, remember that every minute of rest counts! Don’t be afraid to lean on your loved ones for support around the house, and allow yourself to recharge as much as possible during the day.
Our c section recovery program was carefully designed to support your healing. One-on-one virtual sessions help you regain strength gradually, with gentle movement, stabilizing physical therapy, strength and resistance training, and breathwork.
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