As a new mom, you know that sleep isn’t on the menu – not really, anyway. You may catch a few minutes of sleep here and there, but a full night of rest won’t be happening anytime soon.
Whatever sleep you do get, you want to be good quality sleep. That can be a challenge after a C-section.
We’re going to explore the best ways to sleep after a Cesarean delivery and why your sleep position is so important.
Table of Contents
- Why Is Sleep Position Important After a C-Section?
- What’s the Best Sleep Position After a C-Section?
- Why Is It Hard to Sleep After a Cesarean Delivery?
- How to Improve Your Sleep While Recovering
Why Is Sleep Position Important After a C-Section?
The way you sleep is important no matter whether you just had a C-section or a vaginal birth. Depending on how complicated the delivery was, your doctor may even recommend certain sleeping positions to make sure your recovery is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Sleeping in certain positions can:
- Minimize discomfort during recovery
- Help you enjoy a deeper sleep
- Prevent complications
Ultimately, your sleep position will make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
What’s the Best Sleep Position After a C-Section?
Finding a comfortable sleeping position after a Cesarean section can be a challenge, but there are two positions that work best for most women:
On Your Back
Most women find that sleeping on their backs is the most comfortable position, especially in the first few days and weeks after surgery.
The main benefit to sleeping on your back is that you’re not putting pressure on the incision site. Sleeping on your stomach or side can be uncomfortable for this reason, and you may even put yourself at risk of opening up your stitches.
The only drawback with this position is that it takes a lot of effort to sit up and get out of bed. Straining to sit up can cause pain or other issues.
On Your Side
Some women find it more comfortable to sleep on their side just after a Cesarean delivery. In this position, you’re still not putting pressure on the incision site, and it’s much less painful to get out of bed from this position.
Your doctor may recommend sleeping on your side if you have blood pressure issues. Avoid sleeping on your back if your blood pressure is abnormal.
If you’re in a lot of pain, you may find it uncomfortable to sleep in just about any position. In this case, you may want to try sleeping upright in a chair or recliner.
No one likes to sleep sitting up, but it’s important to remember that this position is only temporary. Once the pain subsides, you should be able to return to sleeping in your favorite position.
On a Pillowy Fortress
Pillows are your best friend when you’re recovering from a C-section. If you don’t want to sleep upright in a chair but other sleeping positions are uncomfortable, you can use pillows to prop yourself up in comfortable positions.
Try placing pillows under your knees or hips to alleviate some of the pressure on your lower back.
Why Is It Hard to Sleep After a Cesarean Delivery?
After a Cesarean delivery, you may find it difficult to sleep – or to stay asleep. There are many things that may be keeping you up at night, aside from your subconscious need to stay awake and alert to hear your baby.
Studies show that many women suffer from OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea. This condition isn’t exclusive to pregnant women, but it does affect many women while they’re pregnant and in the postpartum phase.
OSA can occur because the hormones in your body inhibit airway muscles, and your former baby bump may still be putting pressure on your airways.
Although extremely rare, medical experts speculate that cardiac problems from OSA is the cause of many pregnancy-related maternal deaths.
The use of anesthesia during a C-section or opioids during recovery also puts you at a greater risk of developing this condition.
What to Do About OSA
Experts recommend sleeping with your upper body lifted. Elevating the upper body helps half of new moms overcome sleep apnea.
Use a stack of pillows to keep your upper body elevated while you sleep.
Pain and Discomfort
Cesarean births require extra recovery time, and you may be in more pain than women who undergo vaginal birth.
Pain and discomfort may be what’s keeping you up at night.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations on pain medications. If they’re not providing the relief you need, discuss alternatives.
Pain medication should help you sleep better at night, so don’t stop taking it.
You may find that having to get up out of bed to nurse or feed the baby can make the pain worse. Your first reaction may be to jump right of bed and run to your little one, but resist the temptation and get out of bed slowly.
Try rolling on your side and slowly getting up from this position. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when getting up. It’s important not to do too much too soon.
How to Improve Your Sleep While Recovering
Sleep plays an important role in the healing process, but as a new mom, you’re not getting much of it.
Get Up and Walk
Once your doctor gives you the green light, start getting up out of bed and walking around. Don’t overdo it, but don’t just sit around. A little bit of movement and activity will help you sleep better at night.
Exercise will also help improve circulation, which will speed up the healing process and lower your risk of developing blood clots.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
The food you eat plays a direct role in your recovery process, and can mean the difference between sleeping well and being up all night.
Opt for nutrient-dense foods to ensure that your body has everything it needs to heal. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C are two important nutrients you need to have. Both are anti-inflammatory, and omega-3s have a relaxing effect on the body.
It may be some time before you’re able to sleep like you did pre-pregnancy. Until then, try sleeping on your back or side to minimize pain and make it easier to get up out of bed.