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C-Section Sleeping Tips: How to Get Your Best Rest

by Vannessa Rhoades 15 Sep 2022
C-Section Sleeping Tips: How to Get Your Best Rest

Labor and delivery are full of aches and pains, but if you deliver by cesarean section (C-section), you can expect a few extra postpartum issues. A C-section is surgery, after all, and as with any surgery, it’s important to take proper precautions to ensure you recover properly. Getting plenty of safe, healthy sleep is critical to the healing process. A caregiver who is properly rested is more alert and better able to care for their newborn and themselves. In addition, a resting body has more energy to direct toward healing.

The Best Sleeping Positions After a C-Section

High-quality sleep can be elusive after a C-section. First of all, your newborn likely won’t sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. They’ll also wake often to eat, about every two to three hours. Secondly, your body is trying to heal from major surgical incisions to the abdomen and uterus. It can be difficult to find a restful position that doesn’t place undue strain on your incision. This discomfort can make it hard to fall or stay asleep. For this reason, you may want to try different sleeping positions in order to reduce pressure on your wounds and make it easier to sleep.

Back sleeping (flat)

You probably haven’t done this since the early days of your pregnancy, but back sleeping is perfect when you’re recovering from surgery. This position places minimal pressure on your wounds and provides neutral alignment for your body. Some people find placing a rolled blanket or body pillow under the knees to elevate their legs makes this position a bit more restful.

Use caution getting in and out of bed – don’t just jump in or pop up into an upright position. Instead, use the “log roll” technique:

  • Roll onto your side, knees bent
  • Use your arms to slowly push yourself into a sitting position. Keep your trunk straight. Pretend your trunk is a plank of wood that can't twist or bend.
  • Ensure you’re fully seated upright before standing.

Use this technique in reverse to lie down. Click the video below to watch a demonstration of this technique online.



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Side sleeping 

This position is another favorite for people recovering from abdominal surgery since it doesn’t put added strain on your wounds. It also makes getting into and out of bed simpler. Experts recommend opting for the left side when side sleeping as this optimizes circulation and improves digestive flow. Use a body pillow for added comfort and support for your belly and hips.

The Medela Maternity and Nursing Pillow is an everyday companion, providing comfort and support from pregnancy to birth and beyond. Like every Medela product, this pillow was designed with mom and baby in mind. Perfect for wrapping around the body while resting or sleeping during pregnancy, holding baby securely while breastfeeding, or keeping mom comfortable when pumping.

Back sleeping on an incline

Some people experience obstructive sleep apnea after giving birth, a relatively common condition in which when the muscles supporting the soft tissues in your throat relax. This causes your airway to narrow or even close, briefly cutting off your breathing. Those who’ve had a C-section delivery may be more likely to develop this issue.

 Sleeping on your back at an incline can reduce strain on your wounds and make sure your breathing is less restricted. To achieve this position, add enough support pillows to put your head at a 45°angle to the bed. 

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Upright sleeping

This position is especially useful during those first days home from the hospital, especially for nursing moms. Most people move back to the bed a couple of weeks after delivery. This position works best in a comfy recliner or with the help of plenty of supportive pillows.

The Snuggle Me Organic Feeding Pillow is designed to fit you and your baby’s unique feeding needs. Crafted with narrow ends that easily tuck behind your back and a thick center that brings baby right to you. This modern feeding pillow places your baby in the perfect feeding position, allowing you to lean back and relax while nursing or bottle-feeding your little one.


More Tips for Getting the Best Sleep After a C-Section

Getting a night of restful sleep is difficult for many people, not just the ones who have new babies in the house. But let’s face it: taking care of a brand new baby and recovering from surgery at the same time does add to the challenge. Take a look at these tips to make it easier.

Manage your pain.

Consult your doctor if the pain is keeping you from falling or staying asleep. They can prescribe something that’s safe for you (and baby, if you’re nursing) if over-the-counter products aren’t cutting it. 

Get help from your partner.

Ask your partner to give you a hand getting in and out of bed or rolling to your side. If you’re bottle feeding, ask them to handle some of the nighttime feedings. If you’re nursing, ask them to do a diaper change and bring the baby to you, especially in the first few days at home.

Buy supportive pillows.

A good pillow is worth its weight in gold. It can alleviate pressure on various points of your body and make you more comfortable by eliminating extra aches and pains.

Set the mood for sleep.

This can be a bit challenging, especially if your newborn has a bassinet or crib in the same room as you. Do what you can to create a restful relaxing space. Adjust the temperature to a comfortable level. Keep it dark enough that you can drift off to sleep easily.

Avoid late-night snacks and caffeine.

Caffeinated beverages and heavy foods can further inhibit your ability to fall asleep when you’re ready. Stay away from caffeine or any heavy-duty late-night snacks at least a couple of hours before bedtime.

Stay away from screens before bedtime.

This goes for everyone, not just new parents. Screens radiate blue light, which fools your brain into decreasing melatonin production, thus keeping you awake. 

What Not to Do

You’ll need plenty of time and leeway to rest and recover from your C-section. That means staying away from some activities for at least the first month and a half or until your doctor has given you the green light to resume those activities. These activities may include:

  • Picking up anything heavier than your baby
  • Submerged bathing or soaking in a public hot tub or pool
  • Engaging in sexual intercourse
  • Sleeping on your stomach
  • Using douches or tampons
  • Walking up and down stairs frequently
  • Engaging in vigorous exercise or core workouts

The Bottom Line

Giving birth and having major surgery require plenty of high-quality rest in order to properly heal. Fortunately, there are several ways to maximize your sleep quality and get the rest you need, even recovering from a C-section.

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