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Getting out of bed after surgery
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Getting out of bed after surgery

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

Getting out of bed

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

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

Make sure you are taking the right amount of pain medicines 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 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 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.

To get back into bed:

  • Sit on the edge of the bed.
  • Gently swing your legs back onto the bed.
  • Use your arms for support as you lie down on your side
  • Roll onto your back.

Movements in bed

You can also move around in bed. Change your position at least every 2 hours. Shift from your back to your side. Alternate sides each time you shift.

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

If you were taught coughing and deep breathing exercises, practice them for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 hours. Place your hands on your stomach, then your ribs, and breathe deeply, feeling the stomach wall and rib cage move.

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

When to Call the Doctor

Use the call button to call your nurse if you have trouble (pain, dizziness, or weakness) getting out of bed.

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Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Aebersold M, Gonzalez L. Exercise and ambulation. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M, eds. Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills. 9th ed. New York, NY: Pearson; 2017:chap 13.

Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Aebersold M, Gonzalez L. Perioperative care. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M, eds. Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills. 9th ed. New York, NY: Pearson; 2017:chap 26.


Review Date: 8/22/2022  

Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery Practice Specializing in Breast Cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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