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I have always noticed that my kid (not born yet) is mostly active at night in the womb.

I just wanted to know that will this activeness pattern have an effect on his sleeping schedule when he comes out? Is there any relation between the two? If yes, then how to counter it?

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3 Answers 3

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One of the things that your unborn baby does respond to is movement, so during the day it is constantly being rocked as you move about. At night when you are resting or lying down, that will not happen so much, so perhaps the baby is not being rocked to sleep.

That said, we noticed with our three that many of their movement habits persisted for at least the first few months, so you may find that your baby does stick to the same pattern.

Countering it is not really relevant - for the first few months be driven by your baby: sleep when they sleep, feed them when they want feeding, etc. as you will find that they don't pay attention to day length until quite a few months in. Instead they may work on a 2 hour cycle, or a 4 hour etc.

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One of the best things you can do for yourself as a parent-to-be is understand the physical and mental aspects of newborn sleep and prepare yourself for the differences from adult sleep. There are many books on the market which explain the reasons why newborns sleep the way they do which you may want to read for more in-depth information. In summary of those books (as I am not a sleep expert nor a doctor, so the books are all I have to go on), however:

1) While newborns sleep around 16-18 hours out of every day, this sleep is broken into stretches of 2-4 hours around the clock. Newborns do not have a concept of day versus night until their day-night sleep rhythms mature at 6 weeks. According to the pediatrician I see a newborn's longest stretch of sleep is 4 hours. If you wake your newborn to eat at the 3 hour mark during the daytime you can preserve this 4 hour sleep for nighttime.

2) Newborns first fall into light, active sleep. This period of light and active sleep lasts for 15-30 minutes. This is why a new parent might get a newborn to sleep and then be surprised to find that the baby wakes up instantly on being put down. Between 3 and 4 months this pattern will change and the baby will fall into a deep sleep at the first part of the sleep cycle.

3) An infant sleep cycle lasts about 45 minutes as opposed to an adult 90 minute sleep cycle. Half of this time is spent in REM sleep and half in non-REM. Non-REM contains 4 stages of sleep: drowsiness (eyes may be open), light sleep, deep sleep, and very deep sleep. In those 45 or so minutes babies will cycle from 1 to 4, then back to 2, then REM. That's a lot of time not spent in deep sleep.

4) Babies vary wildly in their sleep personalities. Some newborns have a very difficult time learning to sleep, some seem to have been born to do it. And even a good sleeper early on may "wake-up" in the 3-6 week range and become more difficult. Work with your baby on sleep, don't expect to change him or her.

Newborn sleep is very difficult, but thankfully the newborn phase is short.

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thanks for the reply. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 31 '13 at 4:27

I discussed a similar question with my midwife: "WHY does he keep waking up when I'm ready to sleep!!!"

Her answer was that there is typically not a significant difference in fetal activity, but rather in how still the mother is being. If I am walking around, or even sitting but paying attention to some activity (driving, watching TV, etc.), then I am less likely to notice minor baby movements. If I am lying still, especially trying to relax or sleep, then every twitch or kick will be more obvious. So a moderately active awake period for the baby can seem like an extremely awake period if I'm in bed, whereas a moderately active awake period may be unnoticeable if I'm very active. (It's also possible, of course, that you actually are noticing an extremely awake period, but consider the possibility of maternal perception affecting the "measurement" at such times.)

There is not any particular way to encourage an unborn child to sleep at a particular time that I ever found, much to my dismay when pregnant and tired :-) It is very unlikely that you can encourage more daytime awakeness before birth. In any case, newborn sleep cycles are not tied to either day or night; the baby will be wake up for attention around the clock.

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