Many women find that their dreams change when pregnant, without realising that there’s a connection between pregnancy and dreams. Dreams can become more intense and vivid, and some women experience an increase in nightmares and dreams that may involve anxiety.

What’s The Connection Between Pregnancy and Dreams?

According to Patricia Garfield, PhD, there’s a greater amount of dreaming and dream recall when a woman is pregnant. These dreams will “relate to her condition of pregnancy, the trimester she is in, and what is going on in her body at the time”.1

This is because pregnancy causes a change in hormone levels, which in turn affects sleep rhythms and can lead to new dream patterns.
Garfield explains that dream recall is related to recent movement. For example, it your baby moves within the womb and wakes you up, or you’re waking up to go to the bathroom, then you’re more likely to remember a dream that you’ve just had. With increased recall, a pregnant woman can remember the vividness, detail, and colour of her dreams.2

Below, we’ve gathered some of the most common dreams that pregnant woman have had, and what they mean.

Dreaming About the Gender of Your Baby

Dreams are not a way of divining the sex of your baby through spiritual means. According to psychologist Alan Siegel, dreaming about the sex of your baby just shows that you’re thinking about the gender. Sometimes, people prefer one gender over the other without even realising it. If you dream that you find out what gender your baby is, this could be showing you which gender you’d prefer.3

Dreaming About Conception

Especially in the early stages of pregnancy, you may find that you dream about conception. These can often appear in the form of metaphors – like a fish jumping into a stream. In the first trimester, metaphorical babies may be represented by small animals that grow during your pregnancy. Siegel suggests that this is due to a psychological attachment between the mother and baby, which continues through the pregnancy and continues after birth.4

Dreaming About Birth

As a woman enters her third trimester, she could have more dreams about the actual birth. This is normal, even if the dreams are unrealistic or morbid versions – like going into labour in a public space. These versions could show that a woman is concerned or worried about things not going according to schedule. However, dreaming about the birth could also be a sign that you’re excited to meet your little one.

Dreaming About Giving Birth to Animals or Inanimate Objects

If you dream about giving birth to a littler of kittens, a puppy, or something as strange as a toothbrush, this is normal. It’s actually a long-standing trend in pregnancy dreams. Instead, it’s a metaphor for the child. Dreaming about giving birth to an animal is not foretelling a deformity in the child or that something is going to go wrong. Rather, it’s a way for your subconscious to prepare for nurturing and the responsibilities of pregnancy.

Dreaming About Being Trapped

If you’re dreaming about being trapped or being submerged in water, you could be identifying with your baby who’s “trapped” in the womb. However, it can also be that you’re worried about losing your freedom when you become a parent. After all, you’ll have someone who will be dependent on you for eighteen years, or more. So, even if you’re excited, Siegel advises that there could be underlying worries of feeling trapped once the baby arrives.5

Dreaming About Forgetting Your Baby

Pregnancy brings a host of worries and anxieties, and pregnant women can imagine the worst-case scenario; leaving your baby unattended. Siegel explains that this is a normal fear that could be the result of the increased responsibility that parenthood brings. For example, if you dream that you’re changing the baby in a changing room and then you leave, but realise that you left your baby in the changing room, this could be your brain’s way of highlighting that you don’t feel prepared for a baby psychologically.6

Nightmares During Pregnancy

Anyone going through a period of uncertainty, fear, or change can have nightmares, but unpleasant or scary dreams can take a unique form during pregnancy. Concerns during pregnancy can express themselves in fearful dreams, according to Garfield. For example, if you dream that you drop your baby or that your baby suddenly comes apart, this can reflect your anxiety as to “whether or not [you] can handle a new baby”.7

However, a study in 2008 found that nightmares in which you or your baby are physically harmed may just predict shorter labours with fewer complications.8 While it may seem strange, your scary or unpleasant dreams might actually make your anxiety more easy to manage.

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Footnotes

  1. https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/vivid-dreams-of-pregnant-women#1
  2. https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/vivid-dreams-of-pregnant-women#1
  3. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pregnancy-dreams_n_5938370?ri18n=true&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAIM1449GV12ESSsgrYVfT2o4SwwNDGWB5DSCUTjVNZKEM6zegL6lozWSSJPcam8TiJR3IvljwCQKEeEc-VtOsROlTHeqhjwRlPthyhiVWzv1D62Duf0TJzQWyjbNu7GIXHhL9-1d-9ANPow2EHKY7vUiOyZMJpT1CICvIXWza3YD
  4. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pregnancy-dreams_n_5938370?ri18n=true&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAIM1449GV12ESSsgrYVfT2o4SwwNDGWB5DSCUTjVNZKEM6zegL6lozWSSJPcam8TiJR3IvljwCQKEeEc-VtOsROlTHeqhjwRlPthyhiVWzv1D62Duf0TJzQWyjbNu7GIXHhL9-1d-9ANPow2EHKY7vUiOyZMJpT1CICvIXWza3YD
  5. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pregnancy-dreams_n_5938370?ri18n=true&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAIM1449GV12ESSsgrYVfT2o4SwwNDGWB5DSCUTjVNZKEM6zegL6lozWSSJPcam8TiJR3IvljwCQKEeEc-VtOsROlTHeqhjwRlPthyhiVWzv1D62Duf0TJzQWyjbNu7GIXHhL9-1d-9ANPow2EHKY7vUiOyZMJpT1CICvIXWza3YD
  6. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pregnancy-dreams_n_5938370?ri18n=true&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvLnVrLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAIM1449GV12ESSsgrYVfT2o4SwwNDGWB5DSCUTjVNZKEM6zegL6lozWSSJPcam8TiJR3IvljwCQKEeEc-VtOsROlTHeqhjwRlPthyhiVWzv1D62Duf0TJzQWyjbNu7GIXHhL9-1d-9ANPow2EHKY7vUiOyZMJpT1CICvIXWza3YD
  7. https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/vivid-dreams-of-pregnant-women#3
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18708267
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