We’ve all had dreams at some point in our lives that have stuck with us. However, when you’re pregnant, the words “strange dreams” take on a whole new meaning. Suddenly bedtime becomes a gateway to a world full of color, provoking thoughtful themes and hidden symbolism. You may often find yourself waking up wondering, What in the world was that?
Why we dream
With all the changes going on in your body during pregnancy, it’s only natural for your mind to react. According to Jill Purdie, MD, OB/GYN at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, there’s a surge in progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy that is thought to increase REM sleep, the sleep stage during which we dream. In addition, pregnant women wake more frequently, whether from discomfort or the constant need to go the bathroom, which allows them to remember their dreams more easily. Waking during deep sleep can make dreams seem more vivid and realistic, but can also leave an expectant mom curious as to what her mind is trying to tell her.
Common dreams and their meanings
Pregnancy is a time of both physical and emotional transformation for an expectant mom. You may feel tired, cranky and bloated, all while processing the idea of pregnancy and what it means for the future. Pregnancy dreams often contain symbols and themes relevant to these changes. Common images include buildings, water, and even (gasp!) old partners. Before worrying what implications these references might have on your sanity, let’s first consider what’s really behind them.
Bodies of water in dreams can vary from swimming pools to vast oceans teeming with aquatic creatures. In the first trimester, water can represent awareness of increasing amniotic fluid in your body. The baby is literally “swimming” inside you, and your mind manifests this fact with interesting, often hilarious scenarios in your dreams. In later months, water in dreams represents your water breaking.
Dreams of buildings, especially during the first trimester, usually represent an awareness of your transitioning shape. Sometimes pregnant women dream of factories where things are manufactured, paralleling the exciting task of “making” your baby over the next nine months. The buildings in your dreams may even grow bigger as you increase in size and shape!
You may feel like a pregosaurus, but that doesn’t mean you are void of sensuality. Erotic dreams most often occur during the last trimester, when the impact on your intimate relationship with your partner is the most significant. Your dreams help compensate for diminishing activity in the bedroom (due to discomfort or sheer awkwardness) and remind you that you’re still one hot mama—despite swollen ankles and decreased bladder control.
Baby’s sex and name
Many moms report having dreams about their baby’s sex, particularly during later months. These dreams aren’t necessarily prophetic, as many a mom can attest. They do, however, offer an opportunity to check out your little guy or gal through your imagination. Some women can see not only the baby’s sex, but also their baby’s facial features. And it’s not unusual for names to be revealed to mothers during dreams, or for names that have already been discussed to be accepted or rejected.
The resurfacing of old boyfriends in your dreams may be alarming, but there’s no need to torture yourself with thoughts of guilt or unease over your unexpected nocturnal visitor. These dreams are totally normal! It doesn’t mean your current partner is not still the jelly to your peanut butter, nor does it mean you want to reconnect with former flings. Dreams of previous lovers may actually represent our minds’ way of bringing closure to former chapters in our lives. In The Mother-to-Be’s Dream Book, Raina M. Paris writes that dreams provide a place for a pregnant woman to “finish stories left incomplete in the heart and mind.” This cleansing allows the psyche to make room for the new levels of love and connection motherhood will bring.
Labor and delivery
These dreams increase as a pregnant woman approaches her last few weeks. Some women have calm, beautiful experiences in their labor and delivery dreams. The baby may look angelic or mystical, suggestive of the miraculous experience of giving birth. Other times, dreams may take on a more ominous tone. They might involve long labors, pain or reluctance to push. Mothers may dream of giving birth to aliens or babies who look nothing like them. Anxiety over labor and delivery is natural, and its manifestation in dreams is a normal part of the mind’s process of preparing for imminent change. A life-changing rite of passage is on the horizon, and life as you know it will never be the same. First-time mommies experience the most angst, so women in subsequent pregnancies can usually look forward to a lighter tone to their labor and delivery dreams.
Comprehending our dreams
Ultimately, understanding your pregnancy dreams can help you understand yourself a bit better. Oftentimes anxiety during pregnancy is difficult to pinpoint or voice. Dreams can reveal underlying concerns and encourage us to talk about them with our partners, friends and caregivers. Positive pregnancy dreams can grant us access to an unlimited depth of emotion that pregnancy brings. It’s hard to verbalize the marvel of hearing your baby’s heartbeat or feeling his first movements. Dreams liberate our unconscious minds so that we can deeply explore the boundless joy of motherhood. When you take time to reflect on the meaning of your dreams, you can fully embrace the experience of them.