When I was expecting my son Dashiell, I had dreams that still make me blush: intense, relentless and bizarre sexual reveries. I finally dared to broach the topic with my doctor. "I'm essentially growing a penis inside me, right? Is that why my dreams are wilder than a teen boy's?" I asked. He laughed and said that there was scant research on pregnancy and erotic dreams, but that it's quite normal to have graphic dreams while expecting.
Recently, more researchers have studied the effect pregnancy has on dreams. I asked Jessica Lara-Carrasco, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Montreal's Dream and Nightmare Lab, why moms-to-be seem to have so many crazy dreams. "During pregnancy, your body has to adjust to massive changes quickly. Dreams are a way of handling the stress and adapting to your new life," she says. Still, while plenty of women attest to having more vivid DREAMS while they're expecting, experts don't know exactly what brings these wild reveries on. Sleep patterns change in pregnancy, so you log more REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the stage when your brain is most active and dreams are vivid. And because sleep is more fitful, you might find you wake up mid-dream more often.
As for my own tawdry reveries, research shows moms-to-be don't have more sexual dreams than non-preggos do. "But I've never had so many dreams about making out with ex-boyfriends," I said. Lara-Carrasco offered one possibility: As the baby changes positions, you feel contractions, which could provoke a sexual response—even an orgasm—that is integrated into your dreams. Jill Wodnick, birth doula trainer and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Montclair Maternity in New Jersey, agrees. "When you have contractions, oxytocin, the hormone that brings you to climax, is released, and could cause you to orgasm," she says.
Mystery solved, I probed the meaning of other dreams preggos (AB Facebook fans included) tend to have. Read on for an awakening!