When pregnant, women often find that their dreams become more vivid and memorable. The reasons for these vivid dreams in pregnancy are not yet fully understood. Even if a woman doesn’t normally recall many of her dreams, she may remember four to five dreams per week or more during her pregnancy. Vivid dreams and pregnancy seem to go hand in hand, and pregnant women’s dreams are often rich in symbolic content related to the upcoming birth, their future child, their relationship to their partners and other supporting people in their lives, and the experience of motherhood.
One basic reason why pregnant women may remember their dreams more vividly is that due to the changes happening in their bodies, they are getting up more often during the night (to visit the bathroom, etc) and sleeping more lightly. They spend more time in a light state of sleep where REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and memorable dreams occur. Researchers have suggested a causal link between enhanced levels of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy and a higher frequency of vivid dreams. Some doctors recommend that a pregnant woman avoid heavy meals two to three hours before bed and get some light exercise every day to alleviate stress. Stress and rich foods are two possible contributing factors to unwelcome vivid dreams during pregnancy.
Another reason why pregnant women may recall their dreams more vividly and frequently is that the birth of a child (especially a first child) is a major milestone in a woman’s life and that of her partner. It is a period of both emotional highs and lows in waking life which may translate during sleep into vivid dreams. Likewise, pregnancy can be a stressful time especially for first-time mothers, who may worry about prenatal complications or whether they will be able to care for their babies once they are born. These waking life anxieties can sometimes translate into nightmares for the expectant mother. Compiling a dream journal during pregnancy can help a woman find recurring symbols or themes in her dreams that can hint to what they may be trying to tell her. Our article on meanings of dreams in pregnancy may also help you to come to a clearer understanding of what these dreams symbolise.
Hopefully, this information will help you to understand vivid dreams in pregnancy. Something important to remember is that whatever our experiences in life and in dreaming, we’re rarely alone in it. It’s when the dreams become scary or nightmarish that many reach out to find information about them. As with other kinds of bad dreams, identifying and dealing with the stressors in her waking life can help a woman conquer nightmares during her pregnancy. A good way to alleviate bad dreams is for the pregnant woman to talk over her anxieties with her healthcare practitioner, her partner, and anyone else in her support network. Getting accurate information about her pregnancy can go a long way to eliminating or decreasing nightmares for an expectant mother. Knowing that she is surrounded by a network of supportive friends and relatives goes a long way to increasing a pregnant woman’s confidence and optimism about her future motherhood.
Finally, taking action within a bad dream may not only improve a woman’s outlook about her pregnancy: it may actually lead to an easier labor when it comes time to deliver the baby! Surveys taken of women who had long versus short labors suggested that 94% of women who had nightmares where they took action to improve the outcome had a shorter labor when they gave birth in real life. In comparison, in women who experienced long labors when giving birth, only 30% were assertive in their nightmares.
Like the dreams we remember at other times in our lives, dreams experienced by women in pregnancy are often mirrors for the issues in their waking lives. It’s useful for a pregnant woman to realize that, just as she can take action in her waking life and choose how to prepare for the journey of motherhood, she can also decide what to take away from her dreams during this period. At their most useful, dreams during pregnancy can illuminate a woman’s thoughts, feelings, hopes and worries about this special time in her life and help to guide her through its joys and challenges.