Strange symptoms are part of the territory when you are pregnant. But one of the most surprising (and often confusing) symptoms many women experience is having extremely vivid, realistic and crazy dreams. From dreams about drowning to dreams about birthing an ugly baby, why do your dreams enter a new realm of weirdness when you’re pregnant? And what do these intense dreams mean?
We asked Brisbane dream analyst Jane Teresa Anderson to help break it down. “There’s a lot going on emotionally during pregnancy, whether you’re anticipating parenthood for the first time or you’re already a parent,” she tells Mum’s Grapevine. “These emotional dreams are more vivid. We tend to remember our more vivid dreams as they make such an impact on us, often waking us up out of the dream,” explains Jane.
Here are some of the most common pregnancy dreams and what they mean.
At the top of the list of weird pregnancy dreams are “Dreams about animals” Jane confirms. “Often dreams of giving birth to animals.”
You may find that you give birth to a tiger, a whale, a dolphin or an insect. This can be a little unsettling but it is important not to take these dreams literally.
“You can’t take a dream dictionary approach to understanding dreams as our dream symbols are unique and personal, but we commonly tend to bring animals into our dreams to picture our instincts or connection with nature’s cycles and drives.”
During the first trimester, dreams about fertility imagery – water, garden, fruit, flowers – are also quite common.
Essentially, these dreams are simply paralleling the experiences inside your body and are your brain’s way of coming to terms with these changes and fears.
“Water may represent your emotions if it appears in an emotional sense in your dream,” Jane explains. “Calm water, raging water, overwhelming tsunami-like water, drowning in water, relaxing and being carried along by the currents of pregnancy, and even, perhaps, representing feelings of being waterlogged if you’re experiencing water retention during your pregnancy.”
“Look at the health and wellbeing of plants in your dreams,” Jane suggests. “Are they thriving or ailing? The plants may represent your fears and feelings about the life you’re growing and nurturing (your baby) as well as about your own personal growth and wellbeing.”
Ever woken up after a realistic dream in which you were sure you had your baby in your arms? You could almost smell their skin, see the colour of their eyes, and know, that, yep, he’s a boy! Dreaming about your baby is incredibly common, whether it’s dreaming about conception or about the gender. It is actually a way to connect to your bub before he (or she) is born.
“When you dream of giving birth, you are dreaming about what you are creating – giving birth to – in your life,” Jane tells us.
Nightmares in pregnancy
Dreaming can be blissful, especially pregnant dreaming. But when these dreams are less-than-pleasant, it may leave you feeling scared, confused and worried about your ability as a mum.
“We commonly have many fears to face during pregnancy and these nightmares are the result of your dreaming mind and brain trying to process your fears,” says Jane.
One nightmare you may experience is being trapped.
“Dreaming of being trapped may reflect deep fears of being trapped in parenthood, or may be calling up your instincts to protect or fight for your children.”
Bad mum nightmares
Perhaps the scariest pregnancy dreams are those about harming, abandoning or forgetting bub. It’s important for new mums to realise that this doesn’t suggest you are going to do this.
“Your dreams of harming bub or leaving bub or bub dying are NOT predictive and do NOT reflect anything about your future parenting techniques,” Jane reveals. “They are most likely symbolic of your fears and feelings of vulnerability.”
And they are perfectly normal fears to have, even if they leave you in a cold sweat. One study even found that experiencing nightmares during pregnancy may actually indicate that you’re in for a less complicated labour.
“Dreams are symbolic, so don’t take anything literally,” Jane explains. “The good news is that once you understand such dreams you have the power to work through your fears, resolve issues, and find a place of calm.”
If your dreams or nightmares are causing anxiety, don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about it. While nightmares are common, it’s important to not let them get in the way of your sleep routine.
Like most symptoms we experience during pregnancy, crazy dreams can be attributed to the change in hormones. As these pregnancy hormones impact our emotions, we often need to process them in our dreams.
Speaking to a dream analyst may also provide you with some peace of mind. Have a look at Jane’s website for more information about pregnancy dreams.
We asked the Mum’s Grapevine community if they had any strange dreams when pregnant, and this is what they revealed:
“I woke up from a dream as I was throwing toilet paper at the curtains because I thought a snake was coming out of the curtain rod! I remember it feeling so real at the time and my husband got a good laugh out of it.” – Marissa
“I dreamt that I was about to get eaten by a crocodile the other night. And my partner was up in a tree next to me and wasn’t coming to help! I don’t dream usually.” – Claire
“A lot of them were gory nightmares. As if we mums don’t already lose enough sleep while pregnant! I’ve always dreamt vividly, but pregnancy really intensified them.” – Holly
“With my daughter … dreams of getting intimate with EVERYONE! With my son … vivid dreams of people dying violently. So disturbing on both counts.” – Alison
“I had a dream that I gave birth to my baby girl but she was popping out through my rib. I saw her and thought she was beautiful. Then she turned cold and when I looked down she had died but was no longer a baby but an animal of some sort. Really disturbing and made me really upset.” – Kat
Join the Conversation
Head over to our Facebook page and see what other pregnant mums are dreaming about … click here!
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night have a read of our article about how to get a good night’s sleep with a baby on board.