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.
The First and Second Trimesters
"Dream content changes as a woman's body changes," says Garfield. "Her dreams echo her changing condition and both her hopes and her fears about the coming child."
For instance, explains Garfield, during the first trimester, dreams about water and fertility are quite common.
"Typically, during the first trimester, there are a lot of dreams that contain what we call fertility imagery -- garden, fruits, flowers," says Garfield. "There are often images of water and swimming, as the womb gathers amniotic fluid."
Water is a common theme during the initial stages of pregnancy.
"A fetus floating in water or a fish in water are common dreams," says Karen Muller, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Hayward, Calif. "The mother swimming through water is also common and can relate to her identifying with the fetus."
In the second trimester, dreams start to reflect the changes in the baby and the mother's body.
"There are a lot of dreams about little animals and other things that may represent babies," says Muller. "There are also a lot of dreams about changed architecture that parallel body changes."
The Third Trimester
In the third trimester, dreams seem more telling.
"In the third trimester, there are more specific dreams about the baby -- a baby may tell the mother her name in a dream, or a woman may dream about the baby's sex," Garfield tells WebMD.
Jennifer O'Shea, a pediatrician in Massachusetts, is pregnant with her first child and doesn't know the sex of the child yet.
"We decided against finding out the sex of the baby," says O'Shea. "Then I had a dream I was in my obstetrician's office and one of the staff let slip that it was a girl, and it was so realistic. That is the difference between dreams now and when I wasn't pregnant -- they seem so real now. I wake up and wonder if that just happened or if I was dreaming."
Dreams about journeys are also frequent in the third trimester -- like the dream Jill Feddersen had.
"There are often dreams about journeys or going on a trip, or packing, which can reflect a fear of the unknown," says Garfield.
Also common during the third trimester are dreams about having difficulties during labor, and although these dreams may be troublesome, they are very normal and may be a good sign.
"One study that was interesting found that women who had more nightmares about labor had shorter and easier deliveries," says Garfield. "The thought being that the women were practicing in their dreams and mastering the situation, and were therefore able to do better."