The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

Katie Young
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Wednesday - August 27, 2008

Wacky, weird, unnerving and strange dreams - yet another interesting side effect of pregnancy.

I have never dreamed and remembered so many odd visions in my life. My husband says he often awakes in the middle of the night to the sound of me laughing hysterically as I’m sleeping.

Once he asked me what I was laughing about and I guess I mumbled something about a koala bear using the bathroom, but when I awoke in the morning I didn’t remember having that conversation.

Instead, the dreams I do remember seem to be more of the odd and frightening sort. A few weeks ago, I dreamed that I was giving birth, not at all in the appropriate “birthing” position but more like a football player ready to hike the ball to the quarterback.

Amazingly, my dream “labor” was fast and painless, leaving me asking the nurse if, in fact, they had given me the epidural and if my baby had actually come out. When the nurse passed my dream child to me, however, I was horrified to discover that my baby was even smaller than the palm of my hand and its skin was completely transparent so I could see all its internal organs and the blood coursing through its veins!

I woke up so upset, I had tears in my eyes.

In another dream I had last week, I was holding my newborn baby - who, by the way, happened to be a porcupine. I wasn’t cradling my “child,” fearful that the quills would poke me so I was holding the baby out as far away from my body as possible. When my husband asked me to pass the baby to him, I chucked it with all my might in an underhand throw in his direction.

As our baby was hurtling through the air, my husband yelled at me, “What are you doing?!” He rushed to catch the child as I ran out of the room crying.

The feelings you get from dreams like these are hard to shake off in the morning, and yet, they are apparently a completely normal part of pregnancy.

There are a couple books I’ve been using as my pregnancy “bibles,” and both have chapters about dreams.

According to Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade B. Curtis, M.D., M.P.H., and Judith Schuler, M.S., in pregnancy you can have weird, intense dreams that can frighten you, and you might remember more dreams upon awakening than you ever did before.

The book states, “A woman often dreams a great deal, in great detail, during pregnancy and remembers her dreams more easily. Dreams may even be more emotional than usual.”

The book explains that researchers today consider dreams to be your body’s effort to play back ideas and thoughts about what has happened in the recent past. They may be your subconscious mind’s way of working out important feelings.

There’s no doubt that pregnancy brings a lot of stresses and changes in your life. Dreams occur in REM sleep, the deepest part of the sleep phase. Most people have four to five episodes of REM sleep each night. My book says pregnant women might remember dreams more readily because they are waking up more during the night. Another reason is an increase in hormones; progesterone and estrogen may help increase the amount of time you dream and your recall of dreams.

I’m in my second trimester and, according to The Pregnancy Countdown Book by Susan Magee and Kara Nakisbendi, M.D. three popular and unpleasant second trimester pregnancy dreams include: You hear crying, and you can’t find your baby. Your insurance runs out while you’re in labor. Someone is yelling at you that you’re doing something wrong.

The fact that being pregnant adds a whole new set of worries to our everyday lives is another reason for wacky dreams. Our dreams are made up of various images and emotions that are present in our subconscious. Sometimes we dream about something we heard or saw during the day that has no real meaning in our daily lives.

But dreams do express our anxiety, stress and excitement. It’s important to remember, however, not to take your dreams literally. Yes, this can be difficult when you awake from a disturbing dream that felt so vivid and real. But remind yourself that it’s just a dream and everything is perfectly OK with your baby. Not only that, but other pregnant women around the world are likely having similar dreams as well.

And, hey, find comfort in the fact that your baby may be dreaming along with you as well! Researchers have discovered that babies are probably dreaming as early as week 25 when rapid eye movement sleep is first observed. Babies may also make faces in response to their dreams.

I can only hope my baby is not dreaming of its mother launching it into the air like a football.

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