For me, dreaming during pregnancy was like riding a nocturnal rollercoaster. The pace was fast, the colors vivid, and sometimes I dreaded falling asleep at night, because it gets exhausting to be constantly visiting the Land of Oz. Intense, unforgettable dreams are a popular conversation topic on the moms-to-be forums like What To Expect, where many women report pregnancy dreams about bleeding. If red is the primary color in your nocturnal fantasies, know that it's a common symbol that you're feeling drained, and possibly, a reflection of your anxieties and fears.
"Dreaming of blood during pregnancy is not typically something to worry about, even though it is the last thing we want to see in real life, especially during the first trimester," explains Lauri Loewenberg, dream interpretation expert and author of the book Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, in an email interview with Romper. "It is important to keep in mind that our dreams will often reflect what is going on with our bodies during pregnancy. Women produce almost 50 percent more blood while pregnant, so don't be surprised when you see it in your dreams."
In dreams, blood generally symbolizes energy flow, says Loewenberg, and when you see blood in a dream — yours, or someone else's — it could signify that someone or something in your life is draining you of vital energy. In pregnancy, she notes, dreaming of blood probably indicates that you're letting yourself become physically exhausted and rundown. Loewenberg suggests taking such a dream as a warning, and relaxing whenever and however you can. (For me, pregnancy naps are the key, even if you have to take them in your car.) Remember, your baby needs you to stay healthy and happy in order to grow.
In the early weeks of pregnancy, a dream about blood is understandably frightening — especially if you've suffered a miscarriage before. In fact, Loewenberg says that you're more likely to dream about disaster, including child loss or car crashes, if you've struggled with miscarriage or infertility before. But don't worry, she says. It's likely that your dream is simply a reflection of waking fears. The good news is that the very act of dreaming might actually help relieve those fears, acting as a kind of "pressure valve." Know that "as your pregnancy progresses, and you are feeling more confident about carrying your baby to term, these dreams will taper off," she says.
But are dreams really meaningful during pregnancy, or are they primarily an expression, as American Pregnancy Association noted, of hormonal changes and REM sleep disruption? For Loewenberg, and indeed, for dream interpreters since the days of Sigmund Freud, a dream is a reflection of your inner state of being, and it has a lot to say. "Think of your dreams as an honest commentary from your wise, built-in guru (your dreaming mind) on how you are doing physically and emotionally," Loewenberg says. "The more fun and pleasant the dreams, the better your emotional balance during the pregnancy." When dreams are disturbing, however, they might be clueing you into excessive stress, anger, or anxiety — negative emotions that are important to rein in while you're carrying a baby.
True story: in my third trimester, I became irrationally angry at my partner, largely because I was a whale on partial bedrest, and he wasn't. For weeks, I felt agitated and couldn't sleep. When I finally identified my unpleasant feelings as anger, I slept better, and we were able to work on our relationship in a thoughtful, loving way — instead of, you know, my sulking around the house slamming doors. (One big fix I recommend to one and all: I was done doing dishes until the baby came. Done. With. It.) Whenever you need to understand surprising or tricky emotions, look to your sleep, and your dreams.
"Any time you get an upsetting or scary dream — whether pregnant or not — you must ask yourself what is most difficult in your life right now," says Loewenberg. A dream can be a wake-up call, a plain-spoken clue amidst the psychological turmoil of pregnancy. In fact, Loewenberg recommends that every mom-to-be keeps a dream journal during pregnancy — and dads-to-be, too. You're both going to have some "humdingers" during these next months, she says. So why not share the insights you have with each other, while you wait for a great change to arrive?
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.