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During pregnancy, hormones often make you have crazy, unexpected, and sometimes downright disturbing dreams. Why do pregnant women have such frequent and intense dreams? First, because you’re probably sleeping more (at least you should be) and waking up more. Between the effects of progesterone in the first trimester making you need to go to the bathroom four times a night, to the effects of an eight-pound fetus in the third trimester making the same thing happen, you have many opportunities to wake up and remember your dreams. Also, the dreams you have after waking up once are often more vivid and easy to remember than the dreams you have at the beginning of the night. If there is any reason beyond this why pregnant women remember their dreams more, it has not yet been discovered.
Pregnancy dreams are also often quite bizarre. You may dream about being pregnant with an alligator, or you may dream about your great-auntie Enid dancing the can-can. There is no telling what you are going to dream when you are pregnant, and many people ascribe a lot of meaning to these pregnancy dreams. One caveat, though: you will have many, many dreams while you are pregnant, and some of them may be significant, but some simply will not be.
The dream about being chased down the street by Godzilla is probably related to your stress at work, and probably does not indicate that your child will be in any way abnormal. At the same time, though, many of your dreams will reflect your feelings about your pregnancy, any hopes or fears you may have, and may even indicate your current and growing relationship with the tiny person in your womb.
The Three Trimesters of Pregnancy
- In your first trimester, your body is working hard to create the placenta which will feed your baby for the next nine months. Your uterus is filling with amniotic fluid, and your conscious mind, subconscious mind, and body are all working hard to come to terms with the reality of growing a new life inside you. Dreams of fruits and flowers are common, as well as other symbols of fertility. Water dreams are common, if for no other reason than the fact that you probably have to urinate all the time now. If you dream about swimming, this may indicate an identification with your baby, who is swimming in amniotic fluid. Dreams about fish, frogs, and other aquatic animals may also symbolize your baby.
- In your second trimester, your dreams are likely to reflect your feelings about your changing body. Your dreams may reflect feelings of being beautiful and goddess-like, or they may reflect feelings of being enormous and grotesque. This is normal, just as it is normal to switch from these feelings from day to day (and even minute by minute) in your waking life. As you begin to feel your baby move, you may dream about little animals. You may dream of danger coming to your baby; this also is normal and should not be taken offhand as a prophecy of doom. Your subconscious is adjusting to the idea of being mother and protector of a helpless little person, and it is common for safety fears to begin even before the baby is born. You may also dream of your baby as being a little monster trying to hurt you. This, too, is normal and nothing to worry about. Your subconscious knows that your entire reality is changing, and that this baby is responsible for it, and therefore sees the baby as something of a threat. This is, again, perfectly normal and does not mean that you are going to be a bad mother.
- In the third trimester, your baby becomes very active and strong brainwaves are measurable. (They have been present for some time already.) You may have bonding dreams with your baby, and some women even report having dreams in which their babies tell them their names. You may dream about your baby’s sex, if you have not found it out yet. You may dream about going on a journey or preparing for a difficult task. In a sense, you are, and your subconscious is working through this. Many women dream about labor, or even have nightmares about labor. While this may be frightening, you can rest easy knowing that this is actually a good thing: studies have shown that women who have nightmares about labor often have shorter and easier labors. The brain has in a sense practiced for the task of labor and has prepared itself, similar to the way the meditation practice technique of imagining yourself shooting perfect free throws or dancing a waltz can help you do these tasks in waking life.
Anxious dreams and nightmares that reflect worry about your ability as a mother are also common. You may dream that you lose your baby and cannot find him, or that you are holding your baby and she suddenly disappears or falls apart. These dreams reflect a perfectly normal anxiety about the upcoming task of motherhood, especially in first-time mothers who have never experienced this before. Even for mothers who already have children, it is common to have this sort of nightmare as birth approaches, as the mind works through the prospect of having a delicate, tiny, and completely dependent human being to care for again and the responsibility that comes with it.
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While nightmares and worry dreams are normal and not in themselves a cause of worry, do not disregard them offhand either. Your subconscious can tell you things about your body that your conscious mind does not know, and if you have a worrisome dream that repeats itself, or if you have the feeling that something is wrong, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. Doctors are used to the intuition of mothers and can check you for any problems that your dreams may be revealing.