Have you been experiencing a lot of strange dreams lately? Perhaps you have dreamt about walking around naked in front of a crowd? Maybe you have dreamt that you have given birth to a chipmunk or even a fish? Though these dreams may be strange, rest assured they are a very common occurrence during pregnancy. In fact, the majority of pregnant women report an increasing number of vivid dreams throughout the three trimesters of pregnancy. But why do these vivid dreams occur so frequently during pregnancy and what can you do about them?
Pregnancy is a time of many changes, both physical and emotional. From morning sickness to breast tenderness, mood swings to constipation, the changes often seem limitless when it comes to pregnancy. And one of the biggest changes that pregnant women notice is an increase in their number of dreams. You may notice that you experience an increase in all types of dreams, including:
- joyful dreams
- anxiety dreams
You may also notice that your dreams appear to be more detailed than normal, and are filled with fantastic colors and more vivid features than prior to pregnancy.
Are Pregnancy Dreams Normal?
Though these vivid dreams can often be confusing and even frightening, it is entirely normal to experience a large number of dreams during pregnancy. There are a variety of reasons that can help explain this dramatic increase in dreams:
- Pregnancy Hormones: Throughout your pregnancy, your body pumps out a variety of different hormones, including progesterone and estrogen. It is thought that these hormones affect the way we sleep at night, causing us to experience longer periods of REM sleep. It is during REM sleep that our minds begin to dream.
- Increased Waking: Pregnant women are much more likely to wake up during the night than women who aren’t pregnant. Whether you have a leg cramp or a backache, you may find that you wake up several times every night. When your body wakes up from a deep sleep, it has better dream recall than it would had you slept through the night. This means that you may be experiencing more vivid dreams simply because your body is better at recalling them.
- Pregnancy Anxiety: Pregnancy is a time of distinct changes, many of which are scary and overwhelming. You probably have a number of anxieties over becoming a parent: for instance, you may worry how you will handle having a baby and if you will be a capable mother. Our subconscious mind often works through these anxieties while we are sleeping, in the form of dreams.
Common Pregnancy Dreams
Many pregnant women experience dreams that are similar in content or theme. Some commonly-reported pregnancy dreams include:
- dreams of falling
- dreams of running
- dreams of being trapped
- dreams of baby’s gender
- dreams of baby’s appearance
- dreams of labor and delivery
Don’t be surprised if many of these are unpleasant in nature. Because of all the anxiety and stress that pregnant women experience, dreams often take on a frightening tone. But this is simply your mind’s way of working out your worries and fears. You will also find that much of your excitement about pregnancy also translates into your dreams.
Dream Development by Trimester
Many dream studies have shown that dreams tend to change from trimester to trimester of pregnancy. During the first trimester, women have reported dreaming of water and water symbols. This may be because of the increased amniotic fluid inside of your womb. During the second trimester, women report an increase in dreams about animals. This could be triggered by the your baby’s increased development and movement inside of your body. And during the third trimester, dreams are much more likely to be about baby himself, and may focus on giving birth or caring for baby after he is born.
Dealing with Your Dreams
Many women find that their vivid pregnancy dreams are quite enjoyable, while others find them disturbing and worrisome. However you feel, it is important not to take your dreams literally.
Dreams are made up of various images and emotions that are present in the subconscious, and don’t contain literal meaning. However, you may find it useful to record the basic themes of your dreams, so that you can discuss them with your partner or friends. Discussing dreams is a great way to make sense of them, and can often help take the worry out of frightening ones. It can also be good for a much-needed laugh sometimes too!
If you find that you are still worried about your dreams even after discussing them with your partner, discuss them with your health care provider. She can reassure you that everything is just fine with you and baby.
Goodnight, Sleep Tight
If you are finding that your pregnancy dreams are really interrupting your sleep patterns, here are a few tips to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep!
- Try to ensure that your room is cool and dark. Remove all electronics (such as radios and televisions) and put away anything that might increase your anxiety (like that pile of laundry waiting to be washed!).
- Avoid exercising before bedtime. Instead, find time to exercise during the day.
- Avoid drinking a lot of water right before bed. If you drink a lot, you will find that you wake up during the night with a full bladder, which could actually increase the number of dreams that you experience.
- Do your best to clear your mind of all anxieties and worries before bedtime. Try a few relaxing stretches or breathing exercises to help clear your mind.
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