Visions of fuzzy booties, niblet-size toes, and chubby cheeks may fill your nights during pregnancy, but just as often you may be dreaming of aliens in the bassinet. "Pregnancy can be a tumultuous time, filled with joy, apprehension, fear, and wonder -- and all of this extra emotion spills over into the dream world," says Hillary Grill, M.S.W., a psychotherapist in New York City and coauthor of Dreaming For Two.
Dreams are remembered more often during pregnancy, says Grill, probably because women are waking up frequently at night to use the bathroom or to find a more comfortable sleeping position. And while some night visions may seem particularly disturbing, it's normal for them to be scary or bizarre. It isn't always easy for moms-to-be to express their concerns -- especially when society often expects them to be constantly overjoyed -- so dreams can provide an outlet for feelings like worry or guilt.
The most common dreams revolve around fear of losing the baby, labor pain, and not being a good mother. Loss of control figures prominently as well. Recurring symbols are water (the baby floating inside of you), food or feeding (breast imagery, forgetting to feed your infant), and babies as animals (cute as well as creepy).
Even if they're frightening, pregnancy dreams can help ease fears and may teach us about ourselves. "Dreaming allows us to work out our anxiety over having a baby and to practice the emotional role of being a mom," explains Grill. So try to relax and understand these visions by discussing them with your spouse or a close friend.