There’s no strict rule that stops you from lying on your stomach when you sleep. However, if you are lactating, your body’s pressure on your breasts may lead to plugged milk ducts, which can develop further into a breast infection.
If you’re a newcomer to the breastfeeding scene (or will be soon!), you probably have tons of questions on your mind right now. How to breastfeed, what to eat, what not to do… there are many things you want to make sure you’re doing the right way so that your baby gets the best of your care.
While sleeping positions may take a back seat in terms of the most asked of questions, it’s quite an important one too.
After all, mothers need adequate quality sleep, especially since they always get woken up in the middle of the night by their little ones to feed.
After giving birth, most mothers are advised to seek as much comfort as possible whenever they have time to sleep.
For most new moms, this means returning to your old favorite sleeping position, whichever it may be.
As a general rule, for uncomplicated vaginal deliveries, you can use whichever sleeping position you prefer. Consult with your obstetrician if you delivered your child via a cesarean section.
Sleeping on your stomach may lead to pain
Sleeping on your stomach, although allowed, may lead to prolonged pressure on your breasts. This can potentially block the flow of milk through the milk ducts connected to your nipple, resulting in plugged milk ducts.
When milk ducts are blocked, your baby cannot completely drain all the milk produced by the breast. The build-up of milk will eventually cause the affected breast to swell (called breast engorgement) and feel tender when touched.
In time, you may develop other symptoms, such as discomfort and redness. Painful lumps may form as well.
When milk ducts are consistently being exposed to pressure (such as when you lie on your stomach), this can lead to inflammation of the breast tissue and the development of an infection called mastitis.
Some types of mastitis may resolve without the need for antibiotics, while other cases may need a doctor’s appointment to be treated completely.
Best positions for sleep
With your back inclined
According to a study from Massachusetts General Hospital, mothers can sleep on their backs, with support at a 45-degree angle.
This can greatly help with comfort for mothers who delivered via a cesarean section. This incline may help decrease sleep interruptions that are not related to breastfeeding your baby.
With your back upright
If you have twins or triplets, or frequently wake up at night, sleeping upright removes the need to adjust your position every time you wake up for nighttime feeds.
This type of position may be uncomfortable, so be sure to use pillows in areas that may need support, such as your neck.
Side sleeping is a good position as well. Most mothers use a body pillow to support the abdomen and lower body when using this position.
For C section mothers
Unfortunately, if you delivered via a cesarean section, sleeping on your tummy is not advisable. Putting pressure on your incision site can cause pain and may lead to complications, such as reopening of the wound.
Ultimately, as long as you don’t have any medical conditions that may be affected with this position, sleeping on your stomach is your choice.
While it may offer you the comfort you’ve been used to before pregnancy, this may put you at risk of developing plugged milk ducts and breast infection. When in doubt, it is best to seek consultation with your healthcare provider.