The Vivid Dreams of Pregnant Women
From dreams about journeys to nightmares about delivery, experts tell WebMD how pregnant women can decipher the secrets of their sleep.
Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD
"I would dream I was going on a trip to Paris," says Jill Feddersen, a new mother in Massachusetts who had a baby girl in July. "I was totally unprepared and scared, and I was going with a tour group and I would tell them, 'I can't go -- I've got things to do at home and I'm not packed.' But, they would get me on the plane and I'd have to go."
Dreams like this are frequent in pregnant women. In fact, dreams of all types increase during pregnancy.
"There is a greater amount of actual dreaming and dream recall when a woman is pregnant than at any other time during her life," says Patricia Garfield, PhD. "The dreams will relate to her condition of pregnancy, the trimester she is in, and what is going on in her body at the time."
Why is there an increase in dreaming during pregnancy, and what do these dreams mean -- like the dream Feddersen had of going on a journey? Experts decipher the vivid dreams of pregnant women for WebMD.
A Feast of Dreams
"The changes in hormone levels bring on a feast of dreams in pregnant women," says Garfield, who is author of Creative Dreaming and co-founder of the Association for the Study of Dreams. "In addition, pregnant women need to sleep more, and the more you sleep, the more you dream."
Women also seem to dream more during pregnancy because they are more likely to remember their dreams.
"Twenty to twenty-five percent of your sleep is a dream state, and women who are pregnant are more likely to remember more of that percentage," says Garfield.
Garfield explains that dream recall is related to recency. For example, if a baby is moving within the womb and causing the mother to wake, or the mother is waking up to go to the bathroom more often as pregnant women do, she is more likely to remember a dream she just had than if she slept through the night, remembering only the last dream she had before waking in the morning.
With increased recall, a pregnant woman is able to remember the vividness, detail, and color of her dreams. But what do these dreams mean?