First Trimester Dreams
Early pregnancy dreams often revolve around the pregnant woman's past. Childhood homes and old lovers often figure prominently. These dreams are a way to clear up any unresolved issues. Standard themes during this time are dreams of vulnerability, often symbolized through nakedness, and dreams with a protective and territorial quality.
Second Trimester Dreams
The middle of pregnancy is when the woman begins to get a sense of the baby as a real person, and the bonding process between mother and child begins in earnest. Both water and animal themes figure prominently in second trimester dreams. For example, the woman may dream she is a whale or dolphin in the ocean, swimming alongside her child.
The second trimester is also prime time for anxiety dreams, reflecting a woman's concerns as to whether or not she'll be a good mother. These dreams often involve leaving the baby somewhere or having a baby born deformed or severely undersized.
Charles McPhee, who runs DreamDoctor.com (a website devoted to uncovering the meaning of dreams), emphasizes that such "maternal instinct" dreams are not premonitions of a woman's parenting abilities. "These dreams simply reflect that you are a caring mother," says McPhee. "You are so dedicated to your children that you are worrying about them even in your sleep!"
Third Trimester Dreams
Nature is a common theme in third-trimester dreams, and the imagery can be quite powerful—volcanoes erupt, dams burst, and tidal waves roll. Such dreams represent the impending birth and act as a dress rehearsal for the labor and delivery. Many women actually dream of the entire birthing process. And it is not uncommon for movie stars to suddenly appear in dreams during this time, a reflection of the starring role the woman is playing in her own life.
Regardless of the specific nature of the dreams, increased dream activity during pregnancy is normal. Obstetrician Dr. Gerard DiLeo, MD, explains that dreams act as a clearinghouse to help expectant mothers come to terms with both the physical and emotional transformation they are experiencing. "For first-time mothers especially, the bizarre dreams are a very real acknowledgement of the emotional investment of a pregnancy," says Dr. DiLeo. "This responsibility can weigh a bit heavy. I explain to my pregnant patients that strange, anxiety-producing dreams are simply the psyche's way of processing all that the conscious mind is already rationalizing."
So whether you are in your first trimester and dreaming of being naked in your kindergarten classroom or are in your third trimester and dreaming of giving birth in a barrel while shooting the rapids of Niagara Falls, know you are in good company. And by all means, dream on. Your bizarre dreams just may make you a better parent—or at least a better-prepared one.