Have you been having weird dreams since becoming pregnant? These vivid dreams are your subconscious making sense of your daytime emotions and are considered a normal, and important, step in your pregnancy journey. Let’s look at some common pregnancy dreams women have and why they have them.
Pregnancy dreams have been analysed for almost 50 years − ever since psychologist Alan Siegel held dream workshops with pregnant women back in the 1970s. Alan has been quoted as saying dreams are a stimulus for talking about the underlying feelings and concerns that go along with pregnancy. Pregnancy dreams is a way for your mind to catch up to your body and come to terms with being responsible for another life.
Added to this is the influx of hormones cascading through your system, and, in particular, the hormone cortisol, as this not only rises during pregnancy, but also during the night.
Dr Patricia Garfield is an author and internationally recognised expert on dreams. In her paper, “Pregnancy and Childbirth Dreams”, she shares that some researchers believe women dream more during pregnancy than at any other time in their lives. “Probably because the female sex hormones are at flood level during her pregnancy, the woman is served a banquet of dreams. This bountiful feast of rapid eye movement sleep (REM) often results in more remembered dreams than usual.”
Common pregnancy dreams include:
- Dreaming of labour and childbirth represents your awareness of conception and can be related to your fears or concerns regarding childbirth.
- Dreaming of giving birth to an older baby or full-grown child, says Dr Garfield, is related to your hopes for an easy childbirth.
- Dreaming of large vehicles or buildings, construction or factories is linked to your awareness of how your body is growing and changing. You may be feeling awkward as your body changes.
- Dreaming of carrying a bag or having trouble walking is linked to weight gain and body changes.
- Dreaming of gardens, fruit, flowers or seeds is symbolic of fertility and inner growth.
- Dreaming of danger or intruders could be related to a fear of motherhood and how you will cope.
- Dreaming of open doors, falling, drowning, loss or blood is a nightmare that’s closely related to a fear of having a miscarriage, or the fear of something wrong with your baby.
- Dreaming of water, swimming, or small animals such as fish, tadpoles or lizards. This, says Garfield, is your body’s awareness of your baby in the amniotic fluid.
Common pregnancy dreams during this time, says Dr Garfield, include:
- Dreaming of former boyfriends, or relationships with other men represents your desire to feel attractive.
- Dreams involving your husband or partner being helpful mean you feel you need support or are not getting enough of it.
- If you dream your husband or partner is being difficult or is having an affair, it’s related to you feeling insecure or unattractive as your body changes.
- Dreaming of animals, such as puppies, kittens or baby chicks, giving birth to them, is an awareness of the life growing inside of you, and perhaps a concern on the size of your baby.
- Dreaming of your own mother being either helpful or harmful can either represent a manifestation of old resentments regarding your mother, or your own hopes and dreams for yourself as a mother.
Common dreams in the last trimester of pregnancy include:
- Dreaming of your baby’s sex or appearance, which represents your hopes and fears for your baby.
- If you dream of talking to, or communicating with, your baby, it represents your desire to get to meet your newborn.
- Dreaming of large animals, such as a lion, an ape or a monkey is your awareness that your baby is growing and developing and is getting ready for birth.
- Dreaming of large bodies of water symbolises your anticipation for birth and your water breaking.
- Dreaming of labour and delivery is your mind’s way of preparing you for what is to come. It may even, says Dr Garfield, be representational of you experiencing Braxton hicks while you are sleeping.
- If you dream of going on a journey or getting lost, it represents your fear of the unknown, and your need to prepare.
- Dreaming of ceremonies, birthdays, rituals or holidays means you are looking forward to the joy of birth and meeting your baby.
Dr Garfield shares that these are general trends, and you may find that some overlap trimesters. Ultimately, your vivid pregnancy dreams are your way of processing your fears, hopes, and dreams for your future with your baby.
How common are pregnancy nightmares?
A study, published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth looked in particular at the frequency of nightmares during the last trimester of pregnancy. German researchers studied 406 women in their last trimester and a control group of 496 women who were not pregnant. They were asked to rate their dream recall and how often they had nightmares. They also underwent stress-level testing.
The researchers found 11% of the pregnant women reported having nightmares at least once a week, compared to 2% of the control group. A further 34% of pregnant women reported having a nightmare at least once a month. The study also found that pregnant women were more likely to remember their dreams and nightmares.
Kim Bell is a wife, mother of two teenagers and a lover of research and the way words flow and meld together. She has been in the media industry for over 20 years, and yet still learns more about life from her children everyday.