How vivid are your pregnancy dreams?
Pregnancy dreams can be vivid, wild, wacky or just plain bizarre. However, they should not give you sleepless nights. Let us decode them
Five-months pregnant Leena Vashisht (name changed) is finding it hard to have a good night’s sleep. The reason is not the discomfort provided by her growing belly, but the vivid dreams that she is encountering at least twice a week.
“Day before yesterday, I dreamt that I was riding a horse with my baby inside my womb and we were talking to each other. After some time, I realised I was not riding the horse, but was sitting on a dog and the baby was lying next to me,” says 27-year-old Vashisht, adding, “The sight was so disturbing that I woke up drenched in sweat. I can still remember the sequence of that dream.”
The chain of such dreams prompted Vashisht to share the experiences with her best friend, who told her that visions of breastfeeding her pet cat kept coming up all throughout her second trimester.
According to experts, dreams are a way of connecting to the subconscious mind. More often than not, they are related to certain fears and insecurities that you might be experiencing. “During pregnancy, a woman experiences tremendous physical and psychological changes. Apart from that, there is a fear about giving birth to a child. Thus, these fears get reflected in vivid dreams as her mind assimilates new feelings and experiences,” says Dr Priyanka Mehta, gynaecologist, ePsyClinic.com, Delhi.
Being pregnant can make you dream more bizarre things than usual. Many women say, they dream of sex, talking animals, huge and towering buildings, and that of ugly looking babies. “Erotic dreams during pregnancy simply offer comforting reassurance that she is still sexy, alluring and loveable,” informs Dr Mehta.
Dr Vimal Grover, director, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Fortis la Femme, Delhi, shares one such case. “A 27-year-old pregnant woman wanted to undertake a triple marker test, which is used to find out if a baby is developing any deformity in the womb or not. Her complaint was that she gets chronic vivid dreams pertaining to her child’s appearance. However, the tests revealed that the baby was absolutely healthy,” she says.
Continue reading to know why are pregnancy dreams more vivid than usual.
Why do pregnant women get vivid dreams
During pregnancy, a woman may find herself much more vulnerable to certain fears and concerns. “For instance, pregnant women are often more anxious about the possibility of bodily harm,” says Dr Shivani Sachdev-Gour, gynaecologist and director at SCI Healthcare, Delhi.
However, the dream content changes as a woman’s body changes. “Her dreams echo her changing condition and both her hopes and fears about the coming child,” adds Dr Sachdev-Gour. The following are the reasons for women to encounter vivid pregnancy dreams:
• The hormonal changes that occur in her body due to fluctuation of progesterone and oestrogen levels affect her sleep, causing sleep deprivation. “At this time, they are probably thinking much more about the changing body,” adds Dr Mehta.
• The anxiety and stress—which can result due to financial and career adjustments, physical discomfort, a previous pregnancy loss, about the possible complications and labour, and taking care of a newborn—can also lead to occurrence of such dreams.
• Disturbed sleep due to frequent urination and posture adjustment make you dream more and vividly. “During pregnancy, a woman’s sleep is disturbed because of frequent urination. Due to this, they go into the deep sleep state and remain in the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phase a number of times and wake up with a new dream every time,” says Dr Grover. So, whether it’s leg cramps, needing the loo or just trying to get comfortable, something’s likely to keep you away from your deepest slumber.
• According to experts, vivid dreams and blues during pregnancy are more common in women with a labile mental frame. Women, who do not find adequate support from their families and are under constant emotional and financial stress, are more prone to have bizarre dreams. “Stress causes hyper activity of the autonomic nervous system, leading to release of neurotransmitters responsible for anxiety and depression,” informs Dr Grover.
• Vivid dreams are also commonly experienced by first-time mothers or those who have opted for assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF and surrogacy. “In such pregnancies, the level of anxieties are higher, thus making the expecting mother anxious,” adds Dr Sachdev-Gour.
“Twenty to 25 per cent of your sleep is a dream state,” informs Dr Mehta. There are often images of water and swimming bodies as the womb gathers amniotic fluid. Water is a common theme during the initial stages of pregnancy. A foetus floating in water or a fish in water are some common dreams.
Continue reading for tips on how to deal with vivid pregnancy dreams.
How to pull it off
In cases of vivid pregnancy dreams, supportive counselling and therapy helps, but in case of severe depression, cognitive therapy is the best possible treatment, say experts. “One of the best ways to avoid the constant recurring of such dreams is by trying to stay away from stress as much as possible. For this, you can talk to your partner about your dreams, concerns and fear as it will help you in feeling better,” says Dr Grover.
There are certain things that can be kept in mind if there is reoccurrence of vivid pregnancy dreams:
- Take out time for yourself. Engage in something which you enjoy and learn to relax
- Follow a regular exercise regime such as swimming or walking. Try deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or mild stretching.
- Go to bed early. Your body is working for two now, so an eight-hour sleep is essential.
- Read pregnancy books. They will help you ease down the anxiety about childbirth.
- Listening to your friend’s pregnancy stories is fine, but don’t delve into all the scary things that she tells you. Try to limit the information overload.
- Seek help from a healthcare professional. This will protect you and your baby from unnecessary risks and reduce your chances of postpartum depression.
- Talk to your mother or friends who have already experienced motherhood— especially if you are becoming mother for the first time—as they will be able to ease down some of your stress by sharing their experiences.
- Sometimes, taking the spirituality route can prove to be beneficial. “Many studies suggest that spirituality has been helpful in overcoming fears and stress,” adds Dr Grover.
Above all, the role of the family is paramount in such situations. “Family can help a pregnant woman to relax by having meals together, discussing about their experiences of delivery in a positive context and share their experiences of baby care on a lighter note,” says Dr Mehta.
Interpretation of dreams can be useful as a touchstone for discussion, but ensure it’s nothing more serious than that. You might get a good laugh at them.
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