Getting out of bed after surgery

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Alternate Names

Getting out of Bed

It is normal to feel a little weak after surgery. Getting out of bed after surgery is not always easy, but spending time out of bed will help you heal faster.

Try to get out of bed at least 2 - 3 times a day to sit in a chair or take a short walk when your nurse says it is okay.

Your doctor may have a physical therapist or assistant teach you how to get out of bed safely.

Make sure you are taking the right amount of pain medications at the right time to reduce your pain. Tell your nurse if getting out of bed causes a lot of pain.

Steps to Take

Make sure someone is with you for safety and support in the beginning.

to get out of bed:

  • Roll over onto your side.
  • Bend your knees until your legs are hanging over the side of the bed.
  • Use your arms to lift your upper body up so that you are sitting on the edge of the bed.
  • Push off with your arms to help you stand up.

Stay still for a moment to make sure you are steady. Focus on an object in the room that you can walk to. If you feel dizzy, sit back down.

If you have an intravenous (IV) line, use the pole for support while you take small steps.

To get back into bed:

  • Sit on the edge of the bed.
  • Gently swing your legs back onto the bed.
  • Use your arms to lie back down on your side
  • Roll over.

Movements in Bed

You can also move around in bed. Change your position at least every 2 hours. Move from your back to your side.

Try ankle pump exercises in bed every 2 hours by bending your ankles up and down, alternating your feet for a few minutes.

Practice coughing and deep breathing for 10 - 15 minutes every 2 hours. Try placing your hands on your stomach, then your ribs, and breathe deeply, feeling the stomach wall and rib cage move.

Use your compression stockings in bed if your nurse asks you to. This will help with your circulation and recovery.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if you have trouble (pain, dizziness, or weakness) getting out of bed.


Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 12/10/2012
  • Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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