Q. I love my husband, but now that I'm pregnant, I'm having lots of erotic dreams, and some have nothing to do with him! The dreams that bother me the most are the ones where I'm having sex with women. I know I'm not gay, so what could these dreams mean?
A. Pregnancy is a time of life when your dreams are wilder than ever. Extra blood flow to your genitals, raised estrogen levels that increase vaginal secretions, and sensitive, enlarged breasts mean your sex drive may be raging. The result? Your pregnancy dreams may reflect your joys and fears about your body in some unexpectedly lusty ways. Moreover, since you're waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or massage a leg cramp, you tend to remember more of your nighttime imaginings and more vividly.
If your dreams trouble you, keep a journal and try to dissect what they might mean. Remember, dreams are not literal messages from your subconscious but more complex reflections on your life. For instance, if some of your erotic dreams have to do with old boyfriends or strangers, perhaps part of your subconscious is saying a final goodbye to that "lost" self as you cross the threshold into parenthood. And those dreams about women probably have less to do with being a lesbian and more to do with appreciating your body in new ways.
"Now that you're pregnant, you're going to be very focused on your body," says Sallie Foley, a sex therapist and coauthor of Sex Matters for Women (Guilford, 2002). "And your dreams may reflect the fact that you love the new life your body is creating. You're discovering that a woman's body is pleasurable, exciting, and powerful in ways you've never experienced before."
Holly Robinson is a writer who lives with her husband and their five children north of Boston.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2004.