During pregnancy, it’s common to have vivid, strange dreams and frightening nightmares that wake you up in a cold sweat.
Although pregnant women don’t have more dreams than those who are not, they do report more nightmares, according to a study in the journal Sleep Medicine.
Since hormonal changes interrupt sleep, dreams can be more disturbing and also more memorable because of the frequent awakenings, said Jessica Lara-Carrasco, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Montreal, Canada and lead author of the study.
Due to all the changes and stress women experience during pregnancy, the dream content itself also tends to be more strange.
“She has a lot of imagery during the day thinking about how she will be as a mother,” Lara-Carrasco said. “Dreams are more impactful maybe because women are more aware of the changes and stress about future.”
The good news is that dreams aren’t premonitions and pregnant women who have nightmares may actually have shorter labors, according to a study in the journal Psychiatry Research.
Here, read on for nine of the most common strange pregnancy dreams and what they actually mean.
Dreams don’t just happen to us, we actually create them.
“The dream is like the ultimate selfie,” said Ian Wallace, a psychologist in Edinburgh, Scotland, and author of “The Top 100 Dreams: The Dreams That We All Have and What They Really Mean,” and “The Complete A to Z Dictionary of Dreams: Be Your Own Dream Expert.”
“It’s the ultimate self portrait of who you are, what you need and what you believe in that point in your life,” he said.
Dreaming about water is particularly common during the first trimester as the amniotic sac fills up with fluid.
“Anytime we create a dream with fluid, with water in it, it’s usually about our emotions and feelings,” he said.
If the water is dirty or murky, it probably means that you’re not sure how you feel about having a baby. Similarly, a dream about a tidal wave or tsunami that hovers off-shore means there’s an emotional change coming up in your life.
2. Nature and taking pictures
When mother-of-two Erin Kühn, 32, of Ontario, Canada, was pregnant with her second child, she had a dream that she was taking photos in nature while her daughter played with a stick in a puddle of water nearby.
“All of a sudden I turned around and she was lying face down in the puddle. She had drowned. I remember feeling so horrible,” Kühn said.
Dreaming about death isn’t a premonition, but the child represents ideas that you hold dear, such as a goal you didn’t achieve, but need to figure out how to handle.
“There is some situation, something very close to their heart that seems to be in danger in some way,” Wallace said.
Taking photos represents that you’re trying to get the most natural and healthy perspective on what you’re trying to achieve.
“She was worrying that her unique insight would become submerged and she wouldn’t be able to access it again,” he said.
If you have a dream about conceiving your baby, it actually represents creativity and means you’re conceiving ideas from a labor of love.
“You want to nurture and develop that seed of the idea into something wonderful and unique,” Wallace said.
4. Taking a trip
Dreaming about going on a trip is about the lifelong journey you’re about to start.
If you walk, it means that you’ll take your pregnancy step by step, whereas if you run, it means you already know how to be a mom.
Driving in a car means you have personal or profession ambitions and flying in an airplane means you have ideas about how you’ll raise your child.
5. The sex of the baby
If you dream about the gender of your baby, don’t give it too much credit.
Since males are usually associated with attributes such as assertiveness, ambition and focus and females are associated with empathy, emotions, intuition and creativity, it simply means there’s an opportunity in your life to develop and use that sense of your self.
6. Labor and giving birth
If you dream about going into labor and giving birth, it probably doesn’t mean you’re worrying about it. Rather, it means that you’re bringing a skill, talent or professional project into fruition.
“It usually suggests that [the mother] is using her own experience of the physical birth as a way of symbolizing something in her awakened life that is also quite a lot of work,” Wallace said.
7. Small animals and insects
It’s common for women to dream about giving birth to a small animal, like a puppy. This dream means there is the potential to provide unconditional love and affection and to receive it from your baby.
Dream about giving birth to a kitten?
“There’s a feeling that she is going to be a quite relaxed and independent mother,” Wallace said
Dreams about spiders means there’s an emotional entanglement of some sort, perhaps from an overbearing mother-in-law who is already getting too involved.
8. Forgetting the baby
If you dream that you have forgotten your baby somewhere, it means that you’re thinking about what you may have to give up after your baby is born, whether it’s your career or that painting class you’ve been taking.
9. Physical harm to baby
Dreaming about physical harm to your baby or of the baby being born unhealthy can be scary but it’s actually about your internal conflict about the amount of time you’ll have to devote to your baby.
“[The mother] needs to get really, really clear about her priorities and how to balance those,” Wallace said.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.