Can labor start while you’re sleeping? Can you sleep through early labor? How can you sleep through some of labor. Let’s explore those topics.
But first…. Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 After triaging thousands of patients, I am an expert on when labor starts and what you can expect.
If you’re looking for answers about what to expect during labor, I 100% recommend this class. Tens of thousands of families love it (seriously, read the reviews, even from husbands!) and it can get you prepared in just a few hours too!
Can Labor Start While You’re Sleeping?
In a word, yes. Labor can start at ANY time. While you’re in the shower, having sex, at work or at a doctor’s appointment. There is no time that your body will stop labor if it’s in the mood to do it.
How Does Labor Start?
Labor starts with just some mild cramping, and not feeling well. The good news is that your body is also VERY tired, so sleeping is often something that will come naturally, even if you don’t feel well.
I have a whole post on how to know if you’re in labor — because it CAN be confusing. Labor sort of creeps up on a person, so getting some ideas on how it will start and what to watch for can be super helpful. I also have a whole podcast on how to know if you’re in labor:
Should You Sleep During Labor?
During labor, I recommend you do one of two things:
- Sleep — sleeping during labor gives you body energy and it also can allow your cervix to soften/open while you are obtaining that energy. Sleeping is GREAT and don’t discredit it.
- Move — if you’re NOT sleeping, I recommend moving a lot! I don’t mean constant movement (but I am a big fan of “the sway” or sexy hip circles on a yoga ball) — but changing position every 30 minutes or so.
A lot of women find their first instinct is just to sort of curl up in a ball and be miserable, and THAT is not a good plan.
True sleep, or moving, that should be your plan.
In fact, I have a bunch of labor position cards available. They are regularly $10, but right now I have them at 50% off (just $5) Just loads of tips on positions that can be great (and ways to help you find what’s comfortable to YOU).
In there, I also get your partner to help you with movement — UNLESS you’re sleeping, then they should sleep too! You’ll both need energy.
How Can I Sleep During Labor?
YES, this is a great question. I have a few ways you can work on sleep during labor.
#1 Lower the lights. Studies prove that the bright lights we use in the hospital can actually prevent labor. As soon as my patient was settled into bed I tried to keep the lights low to help bodies enhance that labor process.
In fact, most women naturally go into labor during the night. It is likely because they are relaxed, and frankly — when they’re not so busy doing other daily activities they can more acutely be aware they ARE in labor.
#2 Meditation. One of the best things you can do is get into meditation (or something like Hypnobabies — which I recommend and have a package deal when you purchase my class with it) — earlier in your pregnancy. By having these coping skills it can help you relax your mind and body to sleep more during early labor. In fact, I am personally doing some hypnosis for anxiety lately and the techniques are SO helpful for my early morning wake-ups, I can’t recommend it any more.
#3 Take something. Ask your provider if there is anything you can help with sleep as you get more uncomfortable later in your pregnancy. I can’t give you any guidance in this area, but it’s definitely worth a talk.
I also have a whole post on pregnancy sleep you might find helpful.
Can I Eat When Labor is Starting?
If you’re hungry, I say have small snacks & or meals. I don’t recommend large meals as your stomach sometimes likes to get in on the cramping, and you don’t want to see that meal a second time. Again, you’re likely heading into something you’ll need a lot of energy for. Remember to balance carbs and some protein for long-term energy.
Honestly, there’s no better option than early labor starting while you’re getting some sleep, so don’t stress about it. Remember, early labor can last quite a while, so even if it “started” while you were asleep, you likely have quite a bit of time in front of you. I have a whole post on the first stage of labor you might find helpful as well.
AND, as I talked about before — if you’re looking to know more about labor, how it starts and what to expect — NOW is the time to jump into The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. I answer what to do in early labor and give you the perfect equation for when to head to the hospital.