When Sigmund Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," it's a good bet he wasn't referring to the dreams of a pregnant woman—which are anything but straightforward.
While anyone can see how pregnancy affects a woman's body, not so obvious but equally impressive are the changes pregnancy wreaks with a woman's mind. It's one thing to be pregnant and feel big as a cow, and quite another to have a recurring dream that you are a cow.
Welcome to the world of pregnancy, where the mind expands in direct parallel with the body. "Pregnancy dreams are nature's way of assisting the woman through the process of transformation from woman to mother," writes Raina M. Paris, author of The Mother-to-Be's Dream Book.
And there's no discounting the importance of those dreams.
Dr. Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, MD, a physician at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, has found that the "mental pregnancy" a mother experiences is just as profound as the physical one. It is during the mental pregnancy that a woman prepares herself for motherhood and begins developing an image of her unborn baby. Dreams are an important part of this critical integration process, allowing the mind to make space for the child, which may explain why a pregnant woman's dreams can be so bizarre. (Be sure to check out our A-Z dream guide for deciphering your pregnancy dreams.)
According to Paris, a pregnant woman's dreams tend to change with each trimester and often follow a predictable pattern that reflects the pregnancy's progression.