Why You’re Having Vivid Pregnancy Dreams—and What They Mean
A newborn sporting a full set of adult teeth, leaving your baby suspended from a fish tank, hanging out with Willy Wonka—these are just some of the out-there and weird pregnancy dreams our community of moms-to-be has reported. As if pregnancy didn’t already mess with your sleep, you might wake up feeling pretty confused after dreaming that you’ve given birth to a Barbie doll (We’ve heard that one more than once!), or that your belly is an aquarium full of fish. But, rest assured that it’s pretty common to experience vivid, wacky or just plain hilarious dreams during pregnancy. Read on for what causes weird pregnancy dreams, the meaning behind common pregnancy dreams—and how to deal with nightmares.
In this article:
Why you have weird pregnancy dreams
When do vivid dreams start in pregnancy?
Common pregnancy dreams and what they mean
Real women’s weird pregnancy dreams
How to stop bad dreams during pregnancy
Experts generally attribute weird pregnancy dreams to the wonky sleep patterns many people tend to experience in pregnancy. “Our normal sleep pattern, as we know it, is … disrupted during pregnancy,” explains Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn, women’s sexual health expert, and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. and She-ology, The She-quel: Let’s Continue the Conversation. “Sleep during pregnancy is interrupted and irregular, with more wakeup times and trips to the bathroom, which ultimately affects our REM sleep pattern, which is the cycle of sleep where dreams primarily occur. Since REM sleep is interrupted, it makes sense that pregnancy dreams are turned upside-down.”
Why are pregnancy dreams so vivid?
Vivid dreams during pregnancy are a common occurrence. You might wake up feeling as though what just happened in your dream actually happened to you. Although some research links vivid dreams during pregnancy to hormones, such as higher levels of progesterone in late pregnancy, there are likely multiple reasons. “Scientists tell us it’s still a mystery why dreams are more vivid during pregnancy, but we can definitely speculate on some potential contributing factors,” says Ross. “Emotional, physical, mental and hormonal changes create the foundation for unpredictable, vivid and often terrifying dreams.”
Vivid dreams during pregnancy can occur at any time, but are more noticeable during the second and third trimester, says Ross. In late pregnancy, you’re going through significant hormonal changes and physical challenges that can contribute to weird pregnancy dreams, she adds.
While pregnancy dreams span the gamut, there are a few common pregnancy dreams that experts tend to hear about over and over again.
Here are a few common pregnancy dreams and their potential meanings.
“Announcing dreams” contain important information about the baby you’re carrying, explains Athena Laz, a spiritual mentor, lucid dream teacher and psychologist. “I’ve had many clients experience these sorts of dreams and can attest to the potency of these kinds of wonderful dreams,” she says. They can be about the sex of baby, a potential baby name or even a piece of important family information.
Giving birth to strange things
This is particularly common with first-time pregnancies because the pregnancy journey is unfamiliar, notes Lauri Loewenberg, a certified dream analyst, speaker and author. “The subconscious allows us to explore the unknown resulting in very interesting imagery… [like] a baby with a rat’s tail. Surprisingly common is giving birth to an alien,” she says. Since dreams are symbolic and the subconscious uses metaphors, the imagery in your dream will often represent something you’re experiencing in real life—like, perhaps, a feeling that baby is a foreign or “alien” object that’s “invaded” your body, she adds.
Giving birth and something going wrong
Laz says her pregnant clients often experience dreams of giving birth, and sometimes these dreams are associated with loss—like someone taking the baby away (including the dreamer’s partner, in some cases). “These kinds of dreams generally just alert the dreamer to any fear or anxiety associated with giving birth,” she says. “These dreams give voice to any feelings that may be hard to face.”
Taking baby out and putting them back again
Another bizarre riff on the giving-birth dream, this dream is often caused by “fluctuating back and forth between wanting the pregnancy to be over with and being afraid of the birth, as well as concerns over the possibility of a premature birth,” says Loewenberg.
Forgetting baby somewhere
“Misplaced” future baby in your dream? This signifies anxiety over the huge new responsibility of taking care of baby, says Loewenberg.
Your partner cheating
Loewenberg says this is a common pregnancy dream, often due to a pregnant person’s insecurity with their changing body and concerns that their partner doesn’t find them attractive anymore. It’s not necessarily about cheating with a different partner, either. “This dream can also be a subconscious reaction to this ‘third wheel’ that has come into the relationship,” she adds. “You may see your partner enjoying certain things you no longer can such as alcohol, certain foods, great sleep, freedom of movement, and you’re feeling a bit jealous and ‘cheated’ out of those pleasures.”
Dreaming about your own mother represents your new role as a mom, says Loewenberg. “If Mom is a helpful character in the dream, you’re feeling positive about your pregnancy and feel things are going well,” she says. But if Mom is a negative or helpless character, you might be having anxiety around your pregnancy and perhaps doubting your ability to handle parenthood.
Teeth falling out
If you’re dreaming about your teeth falling out during pregnancy, it might mean you’re anxious about the pregnancy or being able to take care of baby, says Laz. “Teeth dreams often represent changing structures and speak to the notions of both communication and nurturance,” she explains. “These kinds of dreams are actually very helpful because they alert you to the fact that you may be feeling anxious, and that you need to take some action to feel more comfortable and relaxed.”
Baby being born with teeth or talking
You might dream about a baby with more “adult” characteristics. This dream is particularly common in the third trimester. As silly as it might seem, it symbolizes your “eagerness to communicate with [your] new child,” says Loewenberg.
Fish and other sea creatures
Dreams about fish and other water-dwelling creatures are very common, particularly during the first trimester. They “represent the state of the embryo floating in the amniotic fluid,” says Loewenberg.
Sex dreams are pretty common, especially during the second trimester, says Loewenberg. What do they mean? Hormones are crazy at this point in pregnancy, and your libido may be on the rise.
Operating heavy machinery
Are you driving 18-wheelers or pushing boulders around in dreamland? The interpretation for this common third-trimester dream is simple. “These dreams are connected to the difficulty of getting around with a very large belly,” says Loewenberg.
Death or the end of the world
While preparing to give birth, it’s not uncommon to dream about death. To the dreaming mind, it often means that your life, as you know it, is ending or changing, says Loewenberg. “These dreams are very common during pregnancy because lots of changes and endings happen along the way. Our sense of self changes, relationships change, old ways of thinking die off,” she says. “In that same vein … if you dream that you murder someone or that you witness a murder, it’s likely because you’re having to kill off certain habits or behaviors in order to have a healthy pregnancy.” These types of dreams can allow you to let go of what no longer serves you in life, she adds.
Similar to death dreams, dreaming that the world is ending is also about adjusting to upcoming changes, says Loewenberg. “The world, in this respect, is your personal world around you ceasing to exist the way you’re used to it existing,” she says.
How to Interpret Common Pregnancy Dreams
If you want to learn the meaning of your pregnancy dreams, Laz says you can follow her three-step method. “All dreams can be helpful if they’re interpreted accurately,” she notes.
- Acknowledge all of the symbols within the dream. You can use a dream journal to write down all the symbols you remember from the dream.
- Believe that the dream has your best interest at heart. “Ask yourself: Why this dream, in this way, right now? You want to look at your dream as a whole story and recognize what the general emotional tone of the dream was. In other words, how did you feel? And can you link that feeling state to your waking life?” Laz says.
- Identify an action step. If you recognize that your dream is speaking to you about (for example, your anxiety), you could then try “to do something that helps regulate any nervous or fearful feelings, such as talking to someone or meditating,” says Laz.
Weird pregnancy dreams can be on a whole other level. Our readers shared their craziest, most confounding and laugh-out-loud dreams with us:
“I just found out we are having twins yesterday, and last night I had a dream about when we found out. When the ultrasound tech announced we were having twins, he said they’d have to ‘cook’ until they were about 5 years old. I remember saying, ‘Anything you want!,’ and mentally preparing for the next five years of pregnancy.” —futurehockeymom
“I had just come home from the hospital when I went to put baby to sleep—in my bedside table drawer! Then my mom showed up and told me it was time to go for a bike ride. I had just given birth and, of course, couldn’t ride a bike, but she insisted. So we did.” —JennyBaze
“I had one where baby came out with the anatomy of a Barbie doll! It was bizarre.” —beachykeen1723
“I had a dream that they handed baby to me after he was born, and he looked up at me and smiled—with a full set of adult teeth! It was really weird. I remember I was worried about breastfeeding and having baby bite me with his teeth.” —Amber
“I had a dream the doctor took baby out of me when I was only two months pregnant and transferred it to my husband. He had to go through it all. He was in labor for 18 hours, and I got to leave the hospital every night while he was stuck there for a full week.” —Emilyheps
“I had a dream I was with Willy Wonka and we were flying over the city in the movie and then, out of nowhere, he starts yelling at me. It was kind of scary. Maybe I should stay away from sweets?” —Kelseyciarah
Your weird pregnancy dreams might sometimes turn into nightmares—as if you needed even more to worry about right now. But, thankfully, there are tried-and-true tips for preventing scary dreams during pregnancy.
Experts have advice on how to stop bad dreams during pregnancy—or at least minimize them:
- Visualize a positive version of the dream. “Play out the dream from start to where it finished, but then take it one step further and imagine everything working out beautifully,” advises Laz. “For example, you’d see the nurse taking baby as it happened in the nightmare, but then you imagine her coming back into the room, giving you a good reason as to what she was doing, and returning baby back to you in good health.”
- Remember that dreams are about your current life. “If you’re having persistent upsetting dreams, you need to ask yourself what right now in your real life is causing you to feel similar to how you felt in the dream,” says Loewenberg. “The emotions you felt in the dream are very real and exist somewhere in your real life, and the dream is trying to help you with the waking life issue that’s causing these negative feelings.” You might also be anxious that your bad dreams are predicting something—this isn’t the case, she says. “They’re simply subconscious expressions of what you fear.”
- Keep a dream journal. Writing down your dreams—which is a good idea anyway—can help you get to the root of the bad ones, says Loewenberg. Keeping a parallel journal during the day helps too. “Then you have your day and your dream right next to each other, so you can more easily connect the dots and identify what it is that’s causing your upsetting dreams,” she says.
- Keep up with your daily wellness. Taking care of yourself can help minimize bad pregnancy dreams, says Ross. She suggests establishing a regular sleep routine, wearing comfortable clothing, sleeping in a cool environment, practicing relaxation techniques and doing calming activities—like reading a book, taking a warm bath or listening to relaxation apps.
Finally, don’t hesitate to contact your provider if the bad dreams continue, says Ross. After all, you deserve to feel comfortable (or as comfortable as you possibly can!) during your pregnancy—including when you’re snoozing away.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
Athena Laz is a spiritual mentor, lucid dream teacher and psychologist. She’s the author of The Alchemy of Your Dreams: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Lucid Dreaming and Interpretation and The Deliberate Dreamer’s Journal.
Lauri Loewenberg is a certified dream analyst, speaker and author. She’s the author of So, What Did You Dream Last Night?, Cracking the Dream Code and Dream on It: Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life. She’s a member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD).
Sherry Ross, MD, is an ob-gyn and women’s sexual health expert. She’s the author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. and She-ology, The She-quel: Let's Continue the Conversation. She received her medical degree from New York Medical College.
Sleep Foundation, How Pregnancy Affects Dreams, May 2023
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