I’ve always had extremely vivid dreams my entire life and could remember them verbatim every time. Sometimes, I dream so much I’m exhausted after waking up. However, since I’ve been pregnant, it’s been non-stop dreams every night that have been even more vivid (which I didn’t think would be possible) and sometimes pretty frightening — like pregnancy dreams about death. And they aren’t just about death in general, I’m talking family members, pets, friends, and the worst, my unborn son. Why the hell is this happening and what does it mean?
Lauri Loewenberg, certified dream analyst, syndicated columnist, and author of Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, thankfully says in an email interview with Romper that it’s pretty common to dream about death during pregnancy, but not to worry, because “it is not a predictor of the future, but rather symbolic of the present.” And depending on who is dying in your dreams means different things, according to Loewenberg.
“If you dream a family member or friend dies, look at your relationship with that person. How is it changing? You probably aren't up to hanging at the club anymore with your friend. Your topics of conversations have probably changed, for example. So it's not that your friend is going to die, but rather the way your friendship used to be seems to have died,” she explains. Depending on whether the changes are good or upsetting in your everyday life, “the dream is alerting you to this so you can make sure this life change isn’t jeopardizing the friendship,” Loewenberg says.
If you’re dreaming of a family member dying, like your mother, she adds that it’s because you’re becoming a mother yourself, and “that changes your perspective of your own mother, as well as your relationship with her … again, the death dream is alerting you to the change that is happening with that person so you can determine if the change is good and embrace it or if the change is a problem so you can then correct it.”
And as far as the most scary dream for a pregnant person, dreaming that your unborn child dies, Loewenberg emphatically says do not worry. “This is also common and is most often caused by anxiety of being able to carry the baby to term. This is especially common during the first trimester, which is the iffy trimester when most miscarriages take place, and common for women who have had difficulty getting pregnant or have suffered miscarriages or stillbirths before. This is you expressing your anxiety, not necessarily a predictor of what is to come.”
Why do we have such vivid and weird dreams (about death or not) while pregnant anyway? Loewenberg says it's from the hormone progesterone, which you produce a lot of while pregnant. “Increased hormone production can make your dreams more vivid and if you are taking progesterone, that can really cause your dreams to be wacky. I took progesterone when I was trying to get pregnant with a second child and I would wake up laughing every morning,” she says. Plus, our dreams are made up of things that happened during the day, and how we responded to them emotionally, Loewenberg explains. “If you are the type that tends to worry about things, and you have a particularly stressful day, your dreams will reflect that and be frightening or disturbing, for example. Pregnancy makes every day interesting due to the physical and emotional changes we go through as well as what we do, what we talk about, and even what we eat.”
Loewenberg says she’s found in her research that there are common dreams that happen within each trimester of pregnancy. In the first trimester, she says many women dream about “fish and other water-dwelling creatures (representing the state of the embryo), vegetation (represents fertility and the fact you are being fruitful and multiplying), and your own mom.” Why your mom? Turns out, those dreams represent your new role as a mom. "If mom is a helpful character in the dream, you are feeling positive about your pregnancy and feel things are going well. If mom is a negative or helpless character in the dream, you may be having anxiety over your pregnancy or something surrounding it, perhaps even doubting yourself and your ability to handle the mom role,” she explains.
In the second trimester, she’s found many women dream about “puppies, bear cubs, and other baby animals (representing the state of the fetus), a see-through belly (showing your impatience over not being able to see or hold your baby), and lots of sex dreams.” You can thank your ever-increasing hormones for that last one.
And as for the third trimester, this is when you’re more likely to dream about death, and this can represent “letting go of [your] old life and old habits in order to embrace [your] new life as mom. Other common third trimester dreams include forgetting the baby (representing anxiety over this huge new responsibility), and the baby being born (representing your eagerness to communicate with your new child),” according to Loewenberg.
While dreams are a representation of what's going on in your life at the moment and can indicate your feelings and emotions about situations, it's not a premonition — especially pregnancy dreams about death. So try to get some sleep and rest (ha) assured that dreaming about death is nothing to worry about.
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.