Although everyone dreams every night, the dreams of pregnant women tend to be packed with emotion -- a reflection of the dramatic life changes she's about to undergo.
Remember that dreams have no bearing on reality. Feelings of ambivalence -- about motherhood, your changing role, and new responsibilities -- are normal. Just because you have these feelings doesn't mean you don't want to have a baby. Acknowledging your feelings (even the negative ones) and doubts will help you work through them in a more productive way. Your dreams can also be a good way to open up a dialogue with your spouse. "I had the craziest dream, and I think what I'm really worried about is..." Getting your fears out in the open is the best way to over come them.
Here are six of the most common images and subject matters for dreams, and what they might mean, according to Hillary Grill, coauthor of Dreaming for Two (Dutton, 2002).
1. Giving birth to animals. For many women, the closest they've come to motherhood is having a pet. Taking care of puppy or kitten is relatively simple, in contrast to nurturing a baby, which is unknown territory. Giving birth to a pet is a "practicing" dream, in which the animal stands in for the baby. In other words, it's your mind's way of rehearsing for the real thing, but on a more manageable level. These dreams may speak to an underlying fear of being completely responsible for a helpless being.
2. Giving birth to an alien. While unsettling, this dream is quite normal. After all, at times it feels as if an alien has taken over your body. And the only hint you have of what your baby looks like is from the sonogram image -- which looks like an alien. This dream is similar in meaning to giving birth to an animal: you don't know who this little person is going to be, or how you're going to take care of it.
3. Taking the baby out of your uterus, then putting it back. Every mom worries about the health of her baby. This dream is most likely a reflection of the desire to see firsthand that the baby is developing normally. After checking to see that all is well, the baby goes back to the uterus to continue growing. Grill says that in their research, this dream was most common among women who had already suffered a pregnancy loss, or who had a high-risk pregnancy. Another possible meaning: the woman is seeing who the baby is, her way of answering "Will I love this baby?"
4. Swimming, drowning, standing in the ocean. The pregnant woman's dreams include water throughout the nine months, though the water can take different forms. A dream in which you're swimming could mean you're trying to connect with your baby, who's bathed in water in your womb. Swimming could also mean that you're trying to connect with the baby, who is living in water. It's also a way of connecting with nature, since you feel part of nature when you're making a baby. Drowning is another common image, which could mean you're feeling overwhelmed. Or it could speak to your fear of having your water break in an inappropriate place. Oceans and their breaking waves could symbolize the imminence of childbirth.
5. Cheating spouses. Dreams in which a husband is having an affair are usually a sign that you're feeling vulnerable and insecure. As your body changes, some women don't feel attractive. They wonder if their husband still desires them and whether they'll ever get their body back. Remember, dreams have no bearing on reality.
6. Reappearing ex-lovers. Dreams that feature you getting together with an old boyfriend don't mean that you secretly want that to happen. It can mean, however, that you're feeling ambivalent about your new role and upcoming responsibilities. Perhaps you're feeling trapped, as if a door is closing, and are romanticizing the past in which you were more carefree.
Originally published in American Baby.