There are some pregnancy symptoms most people are familiar with, like morning sickness, strange cravings, swollen ankles, and mood swings. But among the wackiest symptoms is one that people generally don't know about until they or someone close to them is pregnant: pregnancy dreams. Those things get weird and leave us wondering "What do my pregnancy dreams mean?" Look, I'm not a psychologist and I don't have any fancy psychoanalysis certifications, but I'm a no-nonsense lady with a degree in Medieval Literature and two pregnancies under her belt, so when it comes to symbolism and baby-making I know what I'm doing and I'm here to help you out.
So, what is the deal with pregnancy dreams? Why are they so vivid and bizarre and why are there so many recurring themes? A few reasons, it turns out. For one, you're about to enter parenthood. Even if this isn't your first baby your life is going to be upended (in a good way) and it's a lot to sort through, mentally and emotionally. Secondly, your hormones (which control literally everything in your body in one way or another) are going absolutely bonkers right now, which, in turn, is making your dreams wackadoodle (which is a technical term, I'm pretty sure). Third, your increasingly ginormous baby, which is pressing up against your other organs and wedging itself into all your internal crevices, is jacking up your sleep which, in term, jacks up your dreams.
Ah, pregnancy. So magical. So glorious.
So before you start panicking about what your latest nocturnal narrative says about your future as a mother, take a breath and sit down with your wise internet auntie (read: me), who is here to reassure you that everything is going to be just fine and pregnancy dreams are perfectly normal (though weird AF).
The dream: You're drowning. Or you're floating in a lake. Or water is pouring into your house and you can't do anything to stop it. Or you're standing in the surf on a beach.
What you think it means: Your world is out of control and you are overwhelmed by all these newfound responsibilities and lifestyle changes. You are struggling against a current that is sweeping you in a direction you aren't prepared for. It all symbolizes the fact that you are not ready for motherhood.
What it actually means: It's not that you're not ready for motherhood, but it is a big change and can be an overwhelming force of nature... kind of like water. It's a good metaphor and your brain knows it. Also, your body's fluid content has increased by, like, 50 percent and there's a very real possibility that you will have to pee immediately upon waking from this dream.
Giving Birth To Something Other Than A Baby
The dream: You're in the delivery room and after elaborate pushing efforts (or a hazy surgery) the nurse hands you... a kitten. Or a puppy. Or maybe a pizza or something.
What you think it means: This is a sign that there's something wrong with your baby that the doctors haven't figured out yet.
What it actually means: Birth, motherhood, and/or your new baby are still a mystery to you and you don't necessarily know what to expect. But rest assured, your baby is not going to come out furry (well... maybe just a little furry, but it'll pass) or as a pizza... though that wouldn't be a total loss, TBH, because pizza is delicious.
Seeing The Baby Through Your Stomach
The dream: You look down to your belly and see it stretching in unnatural, freakish shapes, like your baby is trying to push its way through your skin. Or the skin has suddenly become transparent and you can see your little one quite clearly.
What you think it means: There is something wrong with you that the doctors haven't figured out yet.
What it actually means: Your body is very likely doing slightly less dramatic things at the moment, but only slightly (if you're far enough along there's a pretty good chance that you've seen your belly move in a very weird way). This is a very strange time to be in your skin because everything is doing stuff you've literally never seen before. Your brain needs extra processing time, because the awake moments just aren't enough, so don't read too much into the body horror.
The dream: Exactly what it sounds like.
What you think it means: There is something wrong with your baby and this is a bad omen.
What it actually means: Despite the fact that miscarriage becomes increasingly improbable the farther along you are in a pregnancy, there's still often a very real anxiety that something could happen to keep your little one from your arms until the minute they arrive. This anxiety is awful and completely normal, even to the point of taking over your dreams. Talk to someone — a partner, doctor, or therapist — about your fears for reassurance and catharsis.
The dream: Any number of scary outcomes for you, your partner, or even your baby.
What you think it means: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
What it actually means: So, for starters, we humans think a lot about death. We're absolutely obsessed with it, even when our obsession comes in the form of avoiding discussing or thinking about it at any cost. It's the ultimate fear of the unknown... and close behind it is entering parenthood. Even if it's not actually a close second, both are very primal milestones and you're about to enter one, so it makes sense that the other would come to mind. So it's basically your brain saying "WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S COMING BUT IT'S BIG!!" and being super extra about it. Dreaming about death can just be a way of processing a big transition (which, not to alarm you, pregnant friend, is accurate). In fact, in the tarot, the Death Card usually means some kind of significant (often good!) change.
Sex Of The Baby
The dream: In real life you don't know if you're having a boy or a girl, but in your dream it's extremely vivid.
What you think it means: OMG, I must secretly really want a boy/girl. But what if it's not actually a boy/girl? Does that mean I won't love a baby of the opposite sex? Or, maybe it is a boy/girl and it's the Universe communicating that to me.
What it actually means: Literally nothing. Like, if you're going off the gender binary, there's a 50/50 chance it's going to be either a boy or a girl and you dreamed of one of those possibilities. I wouldn't read too much into it.
The dream: A realistic interpretation of how your birth will go.
What you think it means: I'm going to have a baby soon and I'm thinking a lot about birth.
What it means: That. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
You're Walking Through The Woods
The dream: You're walking through the woods when you come upon your house, except it's not your house. But in the dream it is. So you go through the front door and you're greeted by a fawn who starts speaking to you in Pashto, which you do not speak, but you're trying really hard, and the fawn is just getting really angry and slowly begins to morph into Alison Brie's character from Glow and you start wrestling and then something happens but you don't know what and then you and your grandma are sitting in a waiting room, only it's not a doctor's office, it's an ice cream parlor that looks like a doctor's office and they give you the wrong flavor, but you don't care because you waited too long but when you bite into it it turns into saw dust and then you go into labor.
What you think it means: You're not sure, but you tell everyone about it because it was so weird.
What it actually means: You're pregnant and your hormones are going kooky. This dream means absolutely nothing and, please, stop telling everyone about it.
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.