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 C-Section 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 abominal surgery.
According to Specialty Surgery Center, the best sleeping position after any surgery is usually on your back. But according to University of Washington Medical Center, you should take special care to not sit up from a prone position after your C-Section. Instead, you should first roll onto your side, and use your arms — and not your abs — to help you sit up. Because you will be sore for a few weeks after surgery, it's best to keep your baby close by when you sleep. Then again, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should take care to not fall asleep with your baby in bed, especially if you are taking narcotic pain medication after surgery. Like most everything involved with parenthood, what's required of you seems to be as counterintuitive as it is intense.
One 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, according to Athletico Physical Therapy, you might find that using lots of pillows to support your legs and back will help you get comfortable after your C-section. So with that in mind, if you're on the mend and caring for your little one, here's how to get some quality, necessary, sweet, sweet sleep:
On Your Back
According to Specialty Surgery Center, the best sleeping position after any surgery is usually on your back, which supports your spine and keeps your body aligned, especially if you use pillows or blankets to help support your lower back, neck, and legs. If you do sleep on your back, the University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) recommends you make sure not to use your abs to go from a lying down to sitting up position. Instead, UWMC recommends using the "log-roll" method of getting out of bed after a C-Section, first, rolling onto one side and then moving your feet off the bed while, using your arms to push yourself up to a seated position, before standing.
According to a study published in the journal CHEST, sleeping in an upright position improved breathing and reduced postpartum moms' risk of a dangerous condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which moms who've had C-Sections may be at a higher risk for. Fortunately, by upright they don't mean,sleeping while standing up, although I can tell you that you will probably learn to do that as a new mom, too. The study found that sleeping with their upper body elevated by 45 degrees was the best way for postpartum moms to sleep and breathe easy, and the position didn't seem to interfere with sleep quality or time.
On Your Side
While according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), sleeping on your side is generally recommended in late pregnancy to support your growing belly, ATI Physical Therapy says that, for the most part, side sleeping is not recommended for anyone else. Of course, according to the same site, that doesn't stop most of the population from preferring to sleep on their sides. Hey, when you're comfortable, you're comfortable.
According to Specialty Surgery Center, if you do sleep on your side after your C-Section, it's important to use pillows to support your knees and ankles and keep your hips aligned. According to What To Expect, side-lying position is often the most comfortable breastfeeding position for new moms who are recovering from a C-Section. But you should have your baby sleep close by in a bassinet or crib, as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn't recommend bed-sharing with your newborn. The AAP also advises new moms take special care if they decide to feed their babies while taking narcotic pain medication.
No matter how you sleep, you might want to hold onto your pregnancy pillow — literally — after delivery. The Specialty Surgery Center recommends using pillows to help you get comfortable and support your spine. If you sleep on your back, you can use pillows under your shoulders, lower back, knees, or ankles. If you sleep on your side, Athletico Physical Therapy says pillows can be used between your ankles and knees to keep your hips and pelvis stable. Another option is to literally hug a body pillow and place it between your legs for support while you sleep. Speaking of hugging pillows, According to verywell.com, you can literally press a pillow against your incision site for support when you cough, sneeze, or laugh.
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