Dreams during Pregnancy: What They Mean and More

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Pregnancy is a time when your body and mind undergo many changes. These changes affect your overall health, mental disposition and emotions in a big way. Your nine-month long journey will be exciting, exhausting and challenging in different ways.

Pregnancy Dreams

When you are pregnant, your body undergoes drastic changes, both physically and mentally. Whether this is your first pregnancy or a subsequent one, there will be many associated emotions with the physical and hormonal changes that affect you. This is also what triggers all your pregnancy dreams. Many women experience and clearly remember weird dreams during pregnancy. Others may wake up with no recollection. It is also possible you wake up and don’t remember the dream, but you notice you are feeling anxious, or happy. This could be the emotional imprint of a dream.

Bad dreams in pregnancy are not uncommon. The good news is that this is absolutely normal and is nothing to be overly concerned about.

Why Do You Get Vivid Dreams When Pregnant?

To understand this, we should first try to analyse what happens when we are asleep. Our sleep is divided into various stages, ranging from light sleep to REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and then deep slumber. Throughout the duration of our sleep, we experience about 4 to 6 sleep-cycles, which include the different sleep stages. Dreams occur during the REM stage of sleep.

 

Experts suggest that we wake up refreshed if we wake up at the completion of a sleep cycle. However, when pregnant, there are many disturbing factors that make continuous sleep difficult to achieve, and you make wake-up mid-cycle, or between cycles.

Physical conditions like leg cramps, the need to urinate frequently, or being in an uncomfortable position can cause disruptions to the sleep cycle. As a result, you wake up in between a sleep cycle. If you were in REM sleep when you were awakened, your mind will vividly remember the images from your dream at that time. This is why you usually recollect your dreams with more detail when you are pregnant, and it is not that you have never seen similar dreams before.

Is it Normal to Have Disturbing Dreams During Pregnancy?

If you are feeling disconcerted by your dreams, it may help to know that several pregnant women have vivid and disturbing dreams. Tore Nielson, a Canadian expert on the subject, suggests that this is a normal phase of pregnancy. Eccentric dreams are the result of raging hormones, physical exhaustion and an underlying feeling of anxiety about this new role in life.

Also, by virtue of being so anxious all the time, the stress hormone cortisol rises during the night, increasing the chances for odd or unpleasant dreams. The phenomenon is so common, that studies dedicated to the subject even identify typical dream themes that pregnant women experience. The themes usually change over the course of the pregnancy, and can be as intriguing as giving birth to inanimate objects, or struggling to swim through wide oceans and pools.

What Do These Vivid Dreams Mean?

One of the perplexing questions pregnant women struggle with after such dreaming episodes is “What do these pregnancy dreams mean?”. Each month of your pregnancy is marked by certain physical and emotional changes that happen to your body. So, what you dream is closely linked to the themes that are common to each stage of your pregnancy. Let us decipher the meaning of the dreams you are likely to have during each stage.

Pregnancy Dreams in the First Trimester

Early pregnancy dreams often reflect the apprehension and anxiety you have about the upcoming months. Whether you are a new mother or an experienced one, you will be going through a new phase in your life and this can bring a flurry of emotions. You may dream of giving birth to something other than a baby, the baby just appearing one fine day or of conception in weird ways. This is usually tied to your concerns about a tough pregnancy or having a normal baby.

Common dreams in early pregnancy

Women in the first trimester of their pregnancy often experience dreams that show them giving birth to grown-up children or even adults. Although weird, the significance of this dream is understandable. This is often considered to reflect their apprehensions of handling a fragile newborn. A grown child is easier to handle, and makes the pregnancy less frightening. It may also be linked to a mother’s basic tensions about missing her baby’s childhood phases, if she has to return to work soon after the birth. Giving birth to a grown up child eliminates the concerns of not being with the baby during infancy.

Water is another recurrent theme in early pregnancy. The pregnant mother may dream of aquatic life like fish, tadpoles or other sea creatures. The mother may also feel like she is swimming in vast bodies of water like oceans or seas.

It is believed that this is simply linked to our biological origins. Most women are aware of the fact that their babies are safely cushioned in a fluid medium in their womb, when they are first conceived. This idea in their sub-conscious minds can trigger vivid dreams of water and factors associated with it.

Pregnancy Dreams in the Second Trimester

The second trimester is usually the time when pregnant women are most relaxed after initial pregnancy symptoms subside. Hence, it is easier to sleep at this time. Nonetheless, dreams during pregnancy second trimester are usually just as absurd. Your dreams will be closely linked to the attitude you have towards your pregnancy.

Common dreams in this trimester

In the second trimester, the pregnancy feels very real and the symptoms of a growing pregnancy soon become evident. Mothers are aware that the baby within their uterus is growing fast and may even be aware of what it resembles at each stage. So, many women in this stage dream of various animals. The young ones of animals may feature in your dreams, and it is usually of adorable little animals like pups, chicks and kittens.

Occasionally, there may also be dreams of frightening and less appealing creatures, like snakes or fish. The basic understanding is that the animals you see will depend on your personal perception of your unborn baby. When you feel connected and happy during your pregnancy, your dreams will show animals you love. However, if you aren’t entirely happy with your situation or frightened of giving birth, this will reflect in your dreams.

Nightmares are rather common in this initial stage of pregnancy. The most popular one is about the father having an affair or abandoning you. As the pregnancy progresses, many women feel insecure about their looks.

They may not be happy with the physical changes that their bodies undergo. This insecure feeling in their minds at this stage is the likely cause for such dreams. It is also a factor that women feel less independent at this phase. So, this tension in their minds and change in situation can trigger nightmares where they are stranded by the people they love.

There is also the underlying worry of a hard delivery for which they will require their partner’s physical and emotional support. It is basically their vulnerability to physical changes in their body that trigger such emotionally draining dreams.

Pregnancy Dreams in the Third Trimester

With the delivery looming near, worrying dreams may again resurface. In your sub-conscious mind, you may be worried about a difficult labour and delivery, about the life changes that will soon happen and also for the safety of your child. This can result in vivid dreams that can scare you.

Your dreams of unfortunate incidents in life and unhappy situations simply reflect the apprehensions in your mind. The anticipation of seeing your child for the first time and knowing its sex can also result in dreams where you see such interpretations for the better or worse.

Common dreams during third trimester

With the delivery date soon approaching, many women in the third trimester dream of giving birth to a boy or girl. The sex of the child usually shows up in dreams at this stage. They may see the baby very clearly, and it will be discernible if the baby is a boy or girl.

It is also likely that mothers at this stage see babies being born with characteristic traits they do not like in themselves or their partners. This is simply a reflection of the fears and worries that a mother may have in her mind. When she sees her baby inherit the traits she hates in her dreams, it is just her biggest fears being played out.

At this stage parents have usually fixed or are in the process of considering likely names for their child. So, names are a recurring theme in maternal dreams in the third trimester. The names may range from absurd to very meaningful names. It could also be the easy way out for some mothers who are having a tough time deciding on the ideal name for their child.

Nightmares During Pregnancy

Scary dreams during pregnancy can occur at all phases of your pregnancy. These are absolutely normal, since you are going through many changes in your life. Even if you aren’t openly bothered by the changes, it isn’t unusual to harbour concerning thoughts about it. The different emotions that plague your mind often show up as nightmares or scary dreams.

As your body grows bigger, your sleep is interrupted and you will feel exhausted. Inconsistent sleep schedules, a body that is too tired and many unanswered questions in your mind will combine together to create dreams that try to address these issues in bizarre ways. Expecting mothers have a lot of concerns for their unborn baby. They may worry that the baby may have undesirable traits, be unhealthy or unsafe. In such cases, they end up with nightmares about what they dread and this can greatly affect their attitude and disposition. In such cases, it is good to remember that this is your body’s way of responding to the situation. However, such nightmares are not prophetic, and DO NOT reveal the future or the truth.

What Can You Do About These Strange Pregnancy Dreams?

If you find yourself constantly struggling with strange and worrying pregnancy dreams, it is best to tackle the situation instead of avoiding it.

  • Firstly prepare yourself mentally with the assurance that these frightening or weird dreams are just your body’s way of reacting to your current situation. You needn’t worry about any of it coming true. Talk to your doctor if you need some reassurance.
  • Next, address your sleep issues promptly. Although it is impossible to sleep continuously and comfortably throughout your pregnancy, you can always improve your situation.
    • Make sure you aren’t too exhausted by sleep time and that you use pillows and other comfortable items that enable you to get better sleep.
    • If you suffer from night-time cramps, talk to your doctor and address the issue.

With a few suitable lifestyle changes, you will attain better sleep and the frequency of your nightmares will also come down. Make a conscious effort to get peaceful nights’ sleep and give your body the rest it needs for a healthy pregnancy.

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