I'll never forget it. Before I even found out I was pregnant with my son, I dreamt that I gave birth to an enormous egg. That egg could talk and walk around like a regular Humpty Dumpty. I breastfed this egg, and it spoke to me in a voice not unlike Jafar from Aladdin. At the time, I chalked it up to my insomnia and bad television choices, but just a few days later, I found out I was going to be a mom. Are weird dreams a sign of pregnancy, or am I just especially screwed up? Because honestly, that's not even the weirdest dream I had.
Vivid, strange, and even scary or erotic dreams are fairly commonplace in pregnancy, and women begin to experience them early on in their pregnancies, even before a positive test has been obtained, according to the Journal of The American Board of Family Medicine. It's posited that the influx of hormones that begin with conception alter the sleep/wake state, which in turn causes the brain to create vivid dreams.
However, because science is truly unsure about why we dream or why we dream what we dream, researchers are mostly stuck in a pattern of evaluating the metadata around dreaming as they can't just walk in your dreams while you're having them to do their research. Thank goodness, am I right? No one needs to know just how much I dream about owning chickens and, well, other things.
While hormones are almost assuredly at play, the very stressful, emotional nature of pregnancy also factors into the vivid, strange dreams associated with pregnancy, noted Psychology Today. According to the article, "hormonal changes can disturb sleep, diminishing sleep quality, and causing more interrupted sleep. In turn, these sleep changes are associated with increased recall of dreams, and with dreams that seem to be more emotionally charged and frightening than during other periods of life." In short: pregnancy is filled with emotion. Even trying to conceive is stressful and can rob you of sleep. (Trust me, I know, and that combination is wicked on the subconscious.)
The pattern also makes you more likely to remember it because instead of falling into the REM circuit in a normal pattern, you're experiencing abbreviated cycles of sleep, allowing yourself to wake right after being in the dream state, and that concretizes the dream in your mind. Hence why 11 years after having the Jafar Humpty Dumpty dream, I still cover my boobs every time my kids play Aladdin on their iPads. It's just not a memory that's going anywhere soon.
Are weird dreams a sign of pregnancy? They can be, but they can also be caused by myriad other issues you might not be aware of. According to the Cleveland Clinic, something as benign as your evening glass of cabernet can cause you to have a dream that you're leaping off the side of a Toys "R" Us and turning into Batman before you hit the ground. The article noted that "with alcohol in your system, you’re more likely to have intense, colorful dreams and nightmares. There’s also a chance you’ll act out your dreams in your sleep or even sleepwalk." That's suitably terrifying.
Also, sleep aids such as Ambien can have the same effect. I can tell you from personal experience as someone who regularly takes Ambien, if you're unfortunate enough to wake in the middle of your cycle, chances are, you'll remember a very strange dream.
So while many pregnant women experience vivid, weird dreams while they're pregnant, and even before they know that they are, that's not the only cause of strange dreams. You won't know if your dreams are a symptom of pregnancy until you take a test. But, be warned, the dreams only get weirder the longer you're pregnant.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.