In doing some other research, I came across a page, which is very long, discussing umbilical cord accidents and stillbirth; and in the middle of it was something that just jumped out at me:
There may be a synergistic effect between maternal sleep [which leads to lowered maternal blood pressure], Posiero effect, a fall in fetal cortisol production, and uterine ischemia, all of which may be detrimental to the fetus . The fetal response to uterine ischemia at 3 a.m. may be hyperactivity to stimulate maternal movement and increased uterine blood flow.
So, when you’re tossing and turning all night long when you’re “great with child,” and are making plans to scream at or injure the next person who tells you that “it’s just Mother Nature getting you ready for those 2 a.m. feedings!” because you really would rather get a solid night’s sleep now since you won’t be able to in the next several months, now you can at least wonder if those middle of the night kicks serve a much greater purpose — stimulating your movement so that you stimulate more blood supply to the uterus, so that your baby is not compromised.
I wouldn’t worry too much one way or the other right now, seeing as how it was just a hypothesis put forward, but perhaps it will help you bear with the lack of sleep a little easier, knowing that it might actually have a very important purpose.