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Has anyone given birth while sleeping?

Giving birth while sleeping is extremely rare, but there are a few reported cases of it happening. In most of these cases, the mother was under heavy sedation or anesthesia for a cesarean section. However, there are a handful of remarkable cases where women have given birth unexpectedly while sleeping naturally at home.

Documented Cases of Sleep Births

Here are some of the known cases of women giving birth while asleep:

  • In 2015, a woman in Massachusetts went to sleep while 9 months pregnant and woke up a few hours later with a newborn baby in her bed. She had no warning signs of labor the night before. The baby was healthy.
  • In 2020, a Turkish woman who was 8 months pregnant woke up in the middle of the night in labor. She fell back asleep and woke up again holding her newborn baby. The birth happened quickly and quietly while she was sleeping.
  • In 2021, a woman in Thailand who was 8 months pregnant went to sleep one night and had a normal labor and delivery while asleep. She only realized she gave birth when she woke up from the pain of delivering the placenta.
  • There are many accounts of women who had painless “sleep births” decades or centuries ago. However, the details are scarce since they were not medically documented at the time.

In all these cases, the women were healthy and at term in their pregnancies. They went to sleep as usual and spontaneously went into labor without waking up until the baby was born. These remarkable cases show that it is possible, though extremely rare, for some women to sleep through childbirth.

How Does Sleep Birth Happen?

For a woman to sleep through labor and delivery, a unique set of circumstances has to occur:

  • She must be full term and have a healthy pregnancy free of complications.
  • Labor has to progress very quickly, which is more common with subsequent pregnancies.
  • The position of the baby in the birth canal must facilitate a smooth, complication-free delivery.
  • The mother’s pain tolerance has to be very high and labor sensations minimized enough not to wake her.
  • The baby must be small enough to pass through the birth canal easily without needing maneuvering.

Even in healthy pregnancies, the stars really have to align for a woman to stay asleep during the intense physical experience of childbirth. That explains why sleep births are so incredibly rare.

Reasons Women May Sleep Through Labor

Here are some reasons why a small number of women are able to remain asleep during active labor and delivery:

  • Genetics – Some women may inherit a high pain tolerance that minimizes labor sensations.
  • Fast labor – Labor may progress too quickly to rouse the mother from sleep before the baby is born.
  • Fatigue – Exhaustion from late pregnancy may allow the woman to stay in very deep sleep during labor.
  • Medications – Sleep aids or pain relievers can potentially dull labor pains enough to allow sleep.
  • Adrenaline – A sudden flood of adrenaline during delivery may block pain and keep the mother asleep.

While these factors can influence why a woman might sleep through delivery, the phenomena is still extremely uncommon with no clear explanations. There are simply some remarkable cases of women who appear to be predisposed to sleeping through the birthing process.

Risks of Sleep Births

Despite the remarkable stories, sleeping through labor and delivery can be very risky for both the mother and baby. Potential risks include:

  • Lack of medical care if complications arise
  • Higher risk of excessive bleeding after delivery
  • Possibility of infant injury without someone awake to assist delivery
  • Danger of umbilical cord compressing without the mother awake to shift positions
  • Chance of the mother aspirating or choking during delivery while asleep

Sleeping through labor reduces a woman’s ability to consciously facilitate delivery. While very rare, there are examples of complications and poor outcomes in some reported sleep birth cases.

Can You Increase the Chance of Sleep Birth?

Because of the significant risks involved, most medical experts advise against trying to increase the possibility of sleeping through delivery. However, some tips that may raise the chance of a sleep birth occurring include:

  • Having an extremely quick, complication-free previous delivery
  • Using relaxation techniques daily like meditation to increase pain tolerance
  • Eating light and staying hydrated in late pregnancy to prevent digestive issues
  • Arranging pillows and bedding to facilitate different delivery positions
  • Having emergency medical supplies and a contingency plan handy just in case

While these measures may increase the odds very slightly, they are no guarantee. Attempting a sleep birth is medically inadvisable given all the risks involved.


Giving birth while sleeping is possible, but extremely rare. A small number of documented cases reveal that some women are predisposed to sleeping soundly through labor and delivery due to genetics, extraordinarily high pain tolerance, precipitous labor and other factors aligning just right. However, the phenomena carries significant health risks that women should not attempt to pursue purposefully. While remarkable, sleep births should be considered unpredictable anomalies that require prompt medical attention to ensure the wellbeing of mother and baby.