Women often find that they can recall their dreams more frequently and in greater detail during pregnancy. Many also notice that certain themes crop up in their dreams again and again, leading them to wonder about the meanings of dreams in pregnancy. Pregnant women may often wonder what meaning there is, if any, to what they experience in their dreams. In Women’s Bodies, Women’s Dreams, Patricia Garfield writes that there are a number of common themes, images and narratives that pregnant women may encounter in their dreams, all of which can have a subconscious meaning related to the process of pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
The themes a woman encounters in her dreams can change as her pregnancy progresses. I’ve tried to arrange some of the most common dream images and themes and their meanings by whether they usually occur in a woman’s first, second, or third trimester. Of course, dreams are never quite that neat, and this should be taken as at most a rough guide.
1st trimester- Dreaming of giving birth to an older or fully mature baby able to clothe and feed itself: this type of dream may express a pregnant woman’s anxiety about caring for a helpless newborn, especially if it is her first pregnancy. Conversely, this dream might represent a woman’s worries about missing out on a child’s growing up, for example if she knows she will have to return to work after the birth.
Driving a large, awkward vehicle like a truck or bus: Physical changes during pregnancy can leave a woman feeling clumsy and unwieldy as her belly expands to permit the baby to grow; the process of adjusting to these changes is probably what these similarly awkward dreams symbolize.
Dreams about buildings, especially places where things are built, such as factories: These kinds of “building” themes seem to represent the pregnant woman’s sense of her enlarging inner space, and also refer to the baby that is being made inside her. As a woman’s pregnancy continues, she may dream of larger and more complex buildings as she gets closer to delivery.
2nd trimester- Taking care of or being around an animal or pet: This kind of dream can have various meanings depending on the nature of the animal in the dream. As a woman comes closer to term, she may dream of more and more human-like animals such as mammals, while her dreams earlier in a pregnancy might incorporate marine life or other animals that are less like humans. Some psychologists think these dreams symbolically recapitulate human evolution from a marine ancestor into our current mammalian form, as the fetus takes a similar journey as it develops in the womb. Whether the animals in a woman’s dream seem friendly or threatening can indicate whether she feels more confident or more ambivalent about her pregnancy at the time she has the dream.
Having an affair with a former partner, or discovering that her partner is having an affair: Although on the surface these two dream scenarios are complete opposites, in their underlying meaning these dreams often reflect a woman’s anxieties about the effect of her pregnancy on her appearance. She may have a subconscious need for reassurance that she is still attractive, and a dream reconnection with a former partner might fulfill this desire. Likewise, anxieties about her changing appearance can spur dreams where her partner carries on a romantic affair. Reaffirming her connection with her partner in real life and sharing these (and other) dreams will usually alleviate these kinds of nightmares (Our article on Vivid Dreams in Pregnancy has more information on things you can do to deal with such dreams).
3rd trimester- Going on a journey to a foreign country or unknown destination: pregnancy is a journey whose outcome or destination is unknown each time, even to women who have been pregnant before. Dreams in which a woman embarks on a journey can express her feelings of newness, uncertainty, and even adventure that come with every pregnancy as she nears term.
Waiting for the baby to be brought to her, often by a partner: A woman who has a dream like this is likely anticipating her imminent delivery. The dream can embody a sense of letting go as the expectant mother realizes the baby will soon be separate from her and will be dependent on both her and her partner for care and love.
Encountering her child in a dream (as either a boy or girl): A dream experience like this usually means that the pregnant mother is curious about what her child will look like, whether the baby will be a boy or girl, and what features the baby will inherit from her and from the father. These are usually positive dreams, although sometimes a mother will dream about her baby inheriting an undesirable characteristic.
Dreams represent a powerful way that an expectant mother can work through the feelings, expectations and uncertainties of her pregnancy and impending motherhood. The above list chronicles a few of the themes and narratives (though by no means all) that a pregnant mother may encounter in her dreams, and possible dreams while pregnant meaning that may shed light on the subconscious processes behind them. The meanings of dreams in pregnancy, just like any other dreams, can be a vast and difficult topic to discuss. But, with such specific changes going on in the female body during pregnancy, it can be a little bit easier to discover dreams during pregnancy meaning. Something we always try to make visitors aware of is that no matter how strange, difficult, or nightmarish your dreams during pregnancy might be, you’re not alone. Look to other women who have experienced similar dreams during their pregnancies, and you may find more answers than you expected!