Every pregnant woman knows the feeling.
It’s the end of a long day, and your body is so tired from carrying your growing baby. You long to crawl into bed for deep, restful sleep.
Then, just as you start to relax, boom!
You might feel like an internal alarm clock has just signaled your baby that it’s party time!
He begins to kick, roll and punch all night and you’re wide awake.
Many pregnant women ask the same question: ‘Why is my baby so active at night?’
If a baby moves a lot – what does it mean?
Generally speaking, if babies kick and move a lot in the womb, it’s usually a good sign.
Most women don’t experience fetal movement for the first time until the second trimester, or around the middle stage of their pregnancy.
But your baby has been active in utero since the very beginning.
As he grows in size and strength, your baby moves and kicks in a way that’s hard to miss. You might feel a particularly hard kick if your baby is riled up about something.
Experts advise there’s no set rule as to how often your baby moves; every woman’s body, and every pregnancy, is different.
The key thing is to know your baby’s normal pattern of movements.
Find out more in our article Baby Kicking – 9 Important Facts You Need To Know.
A sudden and drastic increase in fetal movements could be a sign something isn’t right.
The same goes for a sudden and drastic decrease in movements.
If you feel a change in the pattern of your baby’s movements, talk to your doctor, midwife, or health care provider.
They will assess your baby’s movements and reassure you about his health.
Why is my baby more active at night in the womb?
There are three main theories about why babies are more active at night in the womb.
#1: Pregnant women notice fetal movement more at night
The first theory suggests mothers experience fetal movements more at night because they’re not so busy and distracted, and aren’t moving around themselves.
So although it may feel as though her baby is super active at night time, it’s simply because the mother is less active and less distracted, and is, therefore, more aware of her baby’s movement.
#2: Babies in the womb are more alert at night
The second theory suggests babies in the womb become more alert and kick more when they are not feeling any activity on the outside
After an infant is born, their caregivers instinctually create movement and noise to help calm them. Patting, rocking and shushing are all well-known movements that help settle infants.
It makes sense that even in utero, babies are more likely to sleep for longer periods during the day when they are being gently rocked in their mother’s tummies.
#3: The circadian rhythm
The third theory suggests there are circadian rhythm patterns that begin in utero.
Circadian rhythms refer to the natural sleep-wake patterns over a 24 hour period; newborns often take a few weeks to develop their own rhythms.
You can read more about your baby’s circadian rhythms in Baby Has Night And Day Mixed Up? Here’s What To Do.
Using ultrasound in studies on animals, research has found that the normal circadian rhythm of a fetus shows increased movement at night.
Professor Lesley McCowan, head of the University of Auckland’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology says:
“If your baby usually gets busy at night, rest assured (if you can)…It may be an antisocial hour for adults, but it is a social hour for the fetus (and incidentally the newborn)”.
How do I get my baby to stop kicking at night?
From reading this information so far, you can now be assured the research shows feeling baby movements and kicks more often at night is completely normal.
Although it’s comforting to feel your child moving, it doesn’t do a lot to help you get more rest.
There might not be anything you can do to stop your baby from kicking at night, but there are things you can do to help you get some sleep even though your baby is up all night.
- Use a specially designed pregnancy pillow
- Limit your fluid intake later in the evening, to avoid unnecessary waking and extra bathroom trips
- Avoid caffeine after noon, as it could make you and your baby more wakeful at night
- Avoid spicy food and large meals at night time; indigestion and heartburn are more severe when you are lying down
- Exercise regularly – for at least 30 minutes per day.
You might have noticed your baby is less active when you lie on your back, but most health advice suggests this isn’t a good idea.
The weight of your uterus during pregnancy puts pressure on the inferior vena cava – the vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body. This means there is reduced blood flow to both you and your child.
Many women give their partners a fright because of gestational sleep apnea. This happens when breathing repeatedly stops and starts. This is also made worse by lying on your back.
The safest position for pregnant women to rest is to lie on their left side. This promotes the most effective blood flow. You can use a pillow to wedge yourself into this position if you have space in the bed.