There is a lot to go through with a newborn and
recovering from major abdominal surgery on top of that takes some extra care.
Your doctor should have provided you with very specific care information about
your healing process, but there isn’t really a handbook on how to make it all
work with getting enough rest and how to sleep after c section while taking
care of your baby. Keep in mind this is just a small part of your journey with
your new baby, and the better you take care of yourself the faster your
recovery can happen.
It is easy to stare at your precious baby and
count the fingers and toes all day, but as you have probably heard over and
over again: Rest when your baby rests. This is so important for sleep-deprived
new moms in general, but as your body recovers from the C-section you need even
more rest than usual. If you have a partner at home to help you try and plan a
little additional time to stretch the breaks you get by getting help with
diaper changes or meal preparation so you can rest. If you are alone with your
baby or struggling to find time to rest. Ask friends, family for assistance.
Making a conscious effort to take care of yourself and prioritize your recovery
along with the care and bonding with your newborn will help to ease the
exhaustion and help to keep you in a healthier mindset.
There is not one single answer for what this
position might be. It may take some trial and error (and some pillows) to find
the position where you can relax without pain. Take your time and try out
different arrangements to see what works. Make sure you carefully move between
positions and ensure you’re not straining or overexerting yourself getting into
or out of your bed or a recliner. Your main goal is to rest comfortably and
reduce any stress on the incision site.
Keeping your sleeping baby nearby in a bassinet
can help ease your worries early on and allow them to sleep safely at an arms
reach. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the safest place
for an infant to sleep is on a separate sleep surface designed for infants
close to the parents’ bed. Read more about safe sleeping spaces on the Safe to
On Your Back
According to Specialty Surgery Center, the best
way to sleep after c section and most surgeries is on your back. Many
times sleeping on your back may be the best option to relieve any pressure on
your incision. Try placing a pillow under your knees or sometimes a smaller
pillow for your neck to find a balance that works for you. If you’re sleeping
on your back, it is very important not to sit up directly from this position.
First rolling to your side and using your arms to help you sit up will protect
your recovering abdominal muscles. University of Washington Medical Center
recommends the “logroll” method to get yourself out of bed.
Similar to on your back in bed, resting in a
recliner can be an option to try out. If you’re breastfeeding you may already
be spending a lot of time in the recliner. Depending on the style of your chair
you may have a footrest attached or a separate ottoman. Try out different
adjustments or supplementing the cushions with small pillows or a rolled-up
blanket to get things just right. Not quite the same quality as sleeping in
your bed, but for an afternoon nap or just a few minutes of closed eyes to
recharge this can be a great option.
On Your Side
Sleeping on your left side aids in optimum blood
flow which is great for your recovering body. You may still need that full-body
pregnancy pillow around to support your belly and hips. This position also
makes it easier to get into and out of bed and may just be a transition for you
as you get into and out of bed. Many new moms find the side-lying position is
the most comfortable breastfeeding position for new moms who are recovering
from a C-section. If you do decide to breastfeed with your baby in this
position, make sure to keep your baby safe and move them out of your bed before
you fall asleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t recommend
bed-sharing with your newborn. A bedside bassinet can create a safe and
separate space for your baby.
Elevate Your Upper Body
If you have a wedge pillow this can be very
helpful since it will elevate the entire upper body. If not, you can still get
the same benefits with a carefully arranged pile of pillows. This also goes
well with the pillows under your knees for a fully supported position.
Reference back to the “logroll” method mentioned above to get into and out of
this position. If you’ve been told you could be at risk for obstructive sleep
apnea (OSA), this may have been recommended by your Dr. Moms who have had
C-Sections may be at a higher risk for this condition, but a study published in
the journal CHEST, found sleeping at a 45-degree angle helps to breathe easier
and didn’t seem to interfere with sleep quality or duration.
As you rest at the same time as your baby, you
may find the time goes very quickly for a nap. Just as you start to doze off
that’s when you hear the baby waking up… Getting into a restful mindset and
asleep as quickly as possible can be a struggle and the stress of limited time
can sometimes make it even more difficult to get to sleep! Consider keeping an
eye mask nearby to block out some light as you rest during the day. It’s
tempting to unwind with time on your phone or other electronics once the baby
is sleeping, but these will not allow you to sleep and get the rest you need. Planning
some unplugged rest time will help to disconnect and mentally recharge.
On the other hand, your phone or a tablet might
still come in handy. Many apps have nature sounds and white noise options to
help block out distractions. One study suggests a white noise machine can
reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, by nearly 40% compared to patients who
don’t use these devices. Turn on some relaxation sounds, white noise, or soft
music, lay back, and relax.
These first 6 weeks are a
very important time for your newborn, but also for yourself as you recover from
your c-section. Making your own health, recovery and sleep after c section a
priority is a very important part of taking care of your family. Enjoy
this new and exciting time with your newborn and your growing family!