The Best Sleeping Positions After Hysterectomy (or Prolapse Surgery)

Knowing the most supported sleeping positions after hysterectomy can help you rest comfortably and promote your physical recovery.

The hysterectomy sleeping positions demonstrated in this video are also appropriate for women after prolapse surgery.

Video suitability: Women during home recovery from abdominal or vaginal hysterectomy and /or pelvic prolapse surgery.

Please scroll down below this video for more information to help you sleep comfortably after a hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises e-Book

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises e-book cover

Reduce the risk of common hysterectomy side effects and promote the speed of your recovery.

Ideal for:

  • Early hysterectomy recovery (abdominal or vaginal hysterectomy)
  • Preparing for a hysterectomy
  • Reducing the risk of common side effects e.g. back pain, constipation and gas
  • Preparing your body for return to work and regular activity.

Sleeping Positions After Hysterectomy

Sleep can affect the rate of recovery after a hysterectomy1.

Resting comfortably after a hysterectomy can be interrupted by:

  • Wound pain
  • Nausea
  • Musculoskeletal pain (e.g. lower back pain)
  • Gas pain
  • Coughing pain
  • Being unable to move in bed and get comfortable

There is evidence to suggest that after abdominal hysterectomy some women have greater trouble sleeping during the first week of recovery than after a vaginal hysterectomy 2.

Best Sleeping Positions After Hysterectomy (or Prolapse Surgery)

There are two appropriate sleeping positions for hysterectomy recovery after discharge from hospital. These supported sleeping positions described below have also been shown to relieve lower back or neck pain in mature adults 3.

The two best sleeping positions are:

1. Supported supine (lying on your back)

2. Supported side lying

The position you choose for sleeping depends on your own physical comfort and other health issues that you also experience. For example some women are unable to sleep supine because of lower back pain after hysterectomy while others experience shoulder or hip discomfort preventing them from sleeping in side lying.

Position 1 – Supported Supine Sleeping Position

Supine is the most commonly used resting position during early hysterectomy recovery in hospital.

Steps for supported sleeping lying on your back (at home)

Step 1. Place a pillow under your knees. The pillow relieves pressure from your lower back when and allows you to do your regular calf pump circulation exercises.

Step 2. Use one appropriate sized pillow to support your head and neck in a neutral position. Avoid sleeping with two large pillows when sleeping on your back to reduce the likelihood of neck and/or upper back strain which can result when the neck is held in a flexed position (i.e. too far forward).

Step 3. Avoid prolonged high sitting (unless medically advised). Vary your resting position throughout the day from lying flat and sitting out of bed. Sleep lying down flat on the mattress with one pillow supporting your knees and one pillow supporting your head and neck.

Position 2 – Supported Side Lying Sleeping Position

Side lying is reportedly the most common sleeping position 3. If you’re a side sleeper it makes good sense to support the body in side lying since this support can improve the quality of sleep 4. Side lying is also a useful position for shifting gas after hysterectomy.

After a hysterectomy lying on your side can cause discomfort owing to the effect of gravity stretching the abdominal and pelvic tissues towards the mattress. Unsupported side lying can also aggravate lower back, hip and/or pelvic pain particularly when the trunk rolls forwards during sleep or if the mattress is too soft to provide good spinal support .

Steps for supported sleeping lying on your side (at home)

Step 1. Place a pillow length ways between your legs to prevent your pelvis from rolling forwards and keeping your hips evenly aligned as you sleep.

Step 2. Rest a pillow length ways on the mattress against your trunk for lower abdominal support. This pillow will help to prevent stretching of your lower abdomen while supporting your upper body.

Step 3. Support your head and neck in a neutral (straight) position with a single pillow that avoids tilting your head and neck while sleeping.

Sleeping and Lower Back Pain After Hysterectomy

High sitting position after hysterectomy

Women often develop lower back pain after hysterectomy, sometimes as a direct result of resting for extended periods of time in a high sitting position in their hospital bed (shown right). This position allows them to eat their meals in bed and perform other activities such as reading or using mobile devices.

Avoid the high sitting in bed position for extended periods of time after hospital discharge (unless medically advised). This is because high sitting  increases pressure on the spinal curves in the lower back, increasing the risk of lower back injury.

Your lower back will be better protected and feel more comfortable if you spend time lying down in the supported sleeping position. Try to vary your back position during the day by walking and sitting in a chair to eat your meals as soon as you’re well enough.

Sleeping Wedge Alternative to High Sitting

If your upper body needs to be elevated for sleeping or resting, an alternative to high sitting is a sleeping wedge to raise the upper body.

A sleeping wedge can improve resting comfort after pelvic surgery and reduce lower back pressure (compared with high sitting position). Sleeping on a wedge can also benefit women who need to sleep with their upper trunk elevated for medical reasons such as sleep apnoea or oesophageal reflux.

More Information

» 5 Physiotherapy Exercises for Relieving Lower Back Pain After Hysterectomy

» Physiotherapy Exercises for Relieving Gas Pain After Hysterectomy

» Walking After a Hysterectomy With Weekly Hysterectomy Walking Guidelines

Hysterectomy Recovery Diet

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises for Avoiding Post-Operative Complications (eBook)

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises Book 1with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Michelle Kenway

Prepare for your hysterectomy with these Physical Therapy exercises and techniques that help you:

  • Move well with minimal discomfort
  • Exercise safely
  • Reduce your risk of major complications and common side effects of hysterectomy.

Includes exercises for constipation, gas pain, lower back pain, moving in and out of bed and safe return to activity after hysterectomy.

Learn More


1. Preben Kjølhede, P. et al ( 2012) The Impact of Quality of Sleep on Recovery from Fast-Track Abdominal Hysterectomy. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 15(7) pp 395-402. Retrieved from

2. COSPER, B et al (1978)  Characteristics of Posthospitalization Recovery Following Hysterectomy. JOGNN 7 (3) pp 7-11. Retrieved from

3. Haex B . Back and Bed: Ergonomic Aspects of Sleeping. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2005

4. Verhaert, V. et al (2011). Ergonomics in bed design: The effect of spinal alignment on sleep parameters. Ergonomics. 54. pp 169-78. Retrieved from

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  1. Julie S. says

    I am in week 3 of recovery from hysterectomy and bladder prolapse surgery and feel quite anxious about damaging anything inside. I want to thank you so much for making available practical, detailed and well-explained information which is helping me get through this process with confidence. So many sites give such vague information that I become discouraged. Your methods and techniques have been a life line for me. God bless you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge, and giving women the tools to achieve optimal success. I know you have made a huge difference for me. Thank you.

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      So glad to have helped Julie! Hope your recovery is smooth sailing hereon, all the best to you!

  2. I’m gassy but have not had a bowl moment since the surgery 3 days ago. Can I take magnesium citrate to help me go?

  3. How soon after can I sleep on my sides.
    How soon after surgery can I lift, up to 5 lbs.
    Do you know when I will get relief from the inner leg pain, the two major muscle/vein feels like someone is pulling them out. Is that normal.

    Can anyone tell me whats the best thing to do to get back on my feet.


  4. I just had a full hysterectomu with both ovaries and tubes taken everythijg was removed now my side and rib cage hurt I am hoping from paying on my side

  5. My hysterectomy was 4 weeks ago, and you have become my go-to girl for any and every question I have! Everything you say has been so helpful, well explained, and perfectly demonstrated. You’ve been such a god-send. I’m grateful to have found you. ThankYou from the bottom of my heart.

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      I’m so glad to have been able to be your go to girl Rachel, what a privilege! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know and I’m so glad that I’ve helped your journey :)

    • I had my hysterectomy and prolapse repair 19th oct, the pain went off but now its back with a vengeance I’ve over done it . I feel so silly as I didn’t meant to over do it and it was only 9 days after and today I lifted a half filled kettle because I forgot. Will I be ok or have I done serious damage to internal wounds. Tomorrow will be 2 weeks exactly

      • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

        Just see how you go Nicole, if you’re worried and things don’t seem to settle then give your specialist a call.

  6. Muralikrishnan says

    Gas through mouth is comming out after this surgery to my wife even after 10 days. Kindly advice