Don’t be surprised if your precious pre-baby shut-eye is interrupted by wacky dreams.
According to Jennifer Suurland, a psychotherapist in Ottawa who specializes in pregnancy stress, expectant women remember their dreams more vividly — they’re waking during the night more often, mid-sleep cycle, when dreams are fresh in the mind.
Read more: Sleeping for two>
“This may be due to changes in sleep patterns associated with pregnancy, like lighter sleep,” Suurland says. Some research suggests fluctuating hormones such as progesterone and HCG may also contribute. Here are a few of the more common themes:
Water: Dreams about surfing a wave or floating in your neighbour’s pool can be a reflection of physical sensations, says Suurland, such as feeling the baby moving in amniotic fluid or waiting for your water to break.
Ex-boyfriends: Many pregnant women report erotic dreams about former partners. “When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had crazy sexual dreams about some of my ex-boyfriends,” says Joan Lum.* Our sex drives can kick into high gear as pregnancy progresses, especially during the second trimester.
Birthing animals or objects: It’s also not uncommon to dream about giving birth to something other than a baby. Mom of two Sarah Desousa has had several such dreams. In one, the delivery room doctor handed Desousa her baby, wrapped in a blanket, only for the new mom to realize the infant had a kitten-like face. “I thought, ‘How am I going to nurse it with those teeth?’” she says.
Suurland offers an interpretation: “Dreams about cute, cuddly animals may reflect a new mom’s excitement about welcoming a baby. But unsettling dreams may represent anxiety about the birth and the new addition.”
Read more: Afraid of giving birth>
Birthing big kids: Moms-to-be may also dream about giving birth to kids who already walk and talk. “Dreaming about having a toddler, or tween, may represent a lack of experience with babies,” Suurland says. It may also symbolize an awareness of how quickly time passes.
Forgetting baby: Dreams about losing or misplacing a child are also common, and they may be about the responsibility of becoming a parent, says Suurland. In Desousa’s dreams, she couldn’t remember where her baby was. “I wasn’t sure if she was at home, at my mom’s cottage or at work in my desk drawer,” she laughs. Quite simply, says Suurland, “Dreams are a way for the mind to process both the excitement and the anxiety that come with pregnancy.”
*name has been changed
This article appeared in our July 2012 issue with the headline “In your dreams,” pp. 45.