Unravel your weird pregnancy dreams and understand your deeper worries. Pregnancy can supercharge your dreams. In fact, they might be so bizarre that they’re hard to forget—especially when they’re a bit scary. Surging hormones make your dreams more vivid and also make you much more likely to remember them. This is why they can haunt you long after you awaken, says psychologist Veronica Tonay, Ph.D., author of Every Dream Interpreted.
But your strange dreams, no matter how horrid, are actually good for you. Your mind is going through the biggest transition it’s ever had to make and is busy processing changes, both day and night. Pregnancy dreams mean that you’re thinking hard about your little one and will be more prepared when he or she arrives.Although your nocturnal ramblings may seem like jumbled nonsense when you wake, they contain symbols that can help you discover their true meaning. So you can enjoy whatever sleep you can get, here are the keys to three common pregnancy-dream scenarios:
The cheating husband
“In my dream I was pregnant, but not obviously pregnant, more fat and chubby. My husband left me for some hottie he worked with, and I was left feeling miserable about my body. I woke up feeling really sad.” —Victoria Winters, Nashville
Read more: Expert tips on putting your baby to sleep
“This is a really normal pregnancy dream, no matter how secure a woman is in her marriage,” Tonay says. When you dream about your partner cheating, you are expressing your innermost fears about motherhood being a huge turn-off. Most women haven’t grown up with the notion that pregnancy equals sexy. Today’s “yummy mommy” phenomenon is a relatively new one.
This type of dream, where your attractiveness diminishes and your partner is repulsed or finds another mate, helps you deal with the loaded notion of becoming a mother, Tonay says. It’s all about you and has nothing to do with your husband, so quit giving him the silent treatment over breakfast.
The bizarre baby
“I dreamed that I gave birth to my cat. I was trying to get him to latch on but he kept biting me and scratching at my breasts, so I couldn’t get him latched and he starting withering away.” —Nicole Reidmueller, Medicine Hat, Alberta
“Dreaming that you give birth to an animal or a baby that is fully grown, tiny, or deformed in some way is really common, especially in the third trimester,” Tonay says. Same goes for babies that are too big, or come out walking or talking.Your anxieties about baby’s health and your ability to cope are being played out in the movie theater of your mind. And this is a good thing, Tonay says, because research shows that the more anxious dreams you have in pregnancy, the less likely you are to have a difficult childbirth.
“Cognitive psychologists know that, in most situations in life, worrying without planning makes us more anxious: Worry feeds worry,” Tonay says. “But, worry and making a plan are very effective at reducing anxiety. So, the idea is, when you dream about a difficult childbirth, you are rehearsing for that possibility, which aids you in planning for it.”
When you wake from one of these spooky dreams, be grateful that your worries are running through your head in advance—and let go of any concerns about giving birth t o a child who bears a striking resemblance to your puppy.
The end of the rope
“I dreamt I was babysitting my 2-year-old nephew. When my brother came home, I realized for the first time that I didn’t know where my nephew was. I don’t remember if we ever found him in the dream, but I was pretty shaken when I woke up.”—Darcy Sawatzki, Takoma Park, MD
As awful as dreams about losing children might be, this dream really represents you losing a part of yourself, not your baby or anyone else’s child.Dreaming about little boys is symbolic of changes that are goal-oriented, while little girls in dreams signify receptivity, being able to give, and creating harmony in relationships, Tonay says. What these dreams tell you is to pay more attention to this new aspect of yourself that’s coming into being and make a conscious effort to nurture it. Other loss dreams, about misplaced keys or forgotten appointments, for example, can express your fears about being an incompetent mother.
In the first trimester, fathers-to-be often dream about having sex with other people, Tonay says, which is completely normal. By dreaming about straying, he is processing a deepening of his marriage vows and commitment, which helps him embrace his new role as father and, for many men, provider. (Sorry ladies, these ideas are in the genes!) After the first trimester, your mate will most often dream about being loving and protective toward you, or about giving birth himself.
Research shows that more than half of expectant fathers have dreams in which they are excluded from the birth or from child- rearing, which can create freaked out feelings. You can help by talking about your own dreams, then asking about his. “Sharing your dreams is a good way to open conversations about any anxieties you are both feeling,” Tonay says, “and can lead to greater intimacy throughout your pregnancy.”
— Lola Augustine Brown. When Brown was pregnant, she dreamed about getting it on with Brad Pitt—a lot. She’s mom to 6-year-old daughter Perdida.