Pregnancy and Dreams
Birth Dreams During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is one of the most powerful experiences any woman can face. A woman’s body changes enormously during childhood and adolescence, but to meet such enormous physical, personal and social changes as an adult is a huge challenge. A woman’s dreams at such a time not only show some of the detailed events that are occurring physically, but also comment on psychological and relationship events and subtleties too. See A Woman’s Creative Power
Robert Van de Castle made a special study of women’s dreams during pregnancy – (Our Dreaming Mind). Other studies were made by Carolyn Winget and Frederic Kapp.
Castle found that during pregnancy women tend to dream about buildings and houses a lot more than in a control group. The dreams would be about things like adding a porch to the house, or seeing distorted parts of a building. These he felt were expressing the change in physical shape the woman was experiencing. As pregnancy progressed so did the shape or size of the buildings.
Those Scary Dreams
Other themes more common in the dreams of pregnant women than in those of a control group are those of animals and water. At first such dreams of water or animals may be calm, even healing, but later on in pregnancy there may be dreams of turmoil or even nightmare. Several studies show this is normal in the sense that it is experienced by many women, and probably reflects the anxieties unconsciously held by the woman about her unborn baby and about birth.
It is also very common for women to dream about actually having the baby, and these dreams are often bizarre or even disturbing to the dreamer. Winget and Kapp found that a high percentage of dreams showed this theme of anxiety, and by following their research through, they were able to observe that the more anxiety dreams a mother-to-be had, the easier the birth was. They conjectured that the anxiety dreams release a lot of tension and fear, and the mother is therefore more relaxed at the time of the birth – usually less than ten hours.
The anxiety dreams include such images as giving birth to a baby who is only a few ounces in weight – the baby is malformed – the baby is born dead – the baby is blind or deaf or injured.
On a positive note these pre-natal dreams may show the baby born and capable of walking and talking right away, or being a beautiful or holy child. Such dreams are also occasionally dreamt by men. Men may even dream of being pregnant and giving birth to a beautiful or holy child.
Castle was able to follow the dreams of over 200 pregnant women, often from about the time of conception through to their post natal situation and experience. One of his interests was to see if dreams showed signs of information about physical conditions that were not apparent at the time of the dream. He says that many dreams did in fact show that small shifts in the physical state, such as conception, were shown in appropriate symbols in the dreams of some women. So if you have a worrying dream about your baby it is worth making sure you check out its condition, something that with modern equipment is easily done. To quote Castle, “The unconscious mind of the pregnant woman seems able to monitor and detect biochemical imbalances, tissue abnormalities, or structural defects in the uterine environment and communicate an awareness of disturbed functioning through dream imagery, which is sometimes fairly literal, sometimes symbolic.”
You are in touch with your baby
But accounts of birth dreams stretch far back into history, and such dreams are said to occur long before conception. In these cases a woman – or sometimes a man – may dream of a child who may be conceived in the future.
Janet Smith, writing in the magazine Sundance about dreams she recorded prior to and during pregnancy, reports this dream:
Example: There are two puppies and some strawberry seedlings. My husband, Eddie, gives the puppies their shots and I plant the seedlings. The puppies run away. I lose one but retrieve the other which I fondle. I try to think up Italian names because it is an Italian puppy.
Janet connects this dream with the fact that she later became pregnant soon after stopping the birth pill, and lost the baby. Within weeks she was pregnant again and carried that child. Interestingly, Rosemary Guiley, in her book The Encyclopaedia of Dreams, states that many dreams occurring in connection with pregnancy include animals to represent the foetus. She gives an example of a dream in which a newly pregnant woman dreams of swimming amongst turtles, and says that amphibian creatures may represent the foetus. In later stages of pregnancy the baby may be represented by rabbits or a puppy as with Janet’s dream.
An interesting series of dreams was reported to me by a man who dreamt that an invisible being came to a room in which he and his wife were living. The spirit had a very powerfully presence and the dreamer felt afraid. Then the being spoke, saying, ‘Do not be afraid. I have come to ask you to make love to form a body for me.’
After the dream the man, already with several children, wondered about whether to take the dream seriously. He and his wife did make love. Two weeks later he dreamt that he heard his wife crying. When he went to her she told him she was pregnant and it was a difficult child to carry. Still in the dream he then knew that the pain was because the child was a special or unusual being who would be a male. Weeks later his wife was found to be pregnant. The child when born was a boy.
Usually the dreams which show conceptions are of a more symbolic nature. Castle quotes one in which the woman dreams she looks at an open shoe-box. Then a purring kitten active with a pink ribbon tied around its neck springs into the box. Straight away the sides of the box start to fold over, closing tight. The woman could feel the kitten moving anxiously against the side of the box, which now seemed to be zipped up.
Conception dreams may include such symbols as a room without doors or windows, putting bread in an oven, watching or getting involved with a creature in a pool or in water, seeing seeds grow or witnessing new plants develop. Some such dreams use the image of the strawberry, perhaps because it has a similarity to the budding cells in a foetus. Still others might use the image of a ploughed field or the earth and the moon. Often there is a feeling of pleasure or even a direct sense of conception linked with the images. A dream told me which seems typically to do with conception is – Last week I suddenly started having a recurring dream. In it I woke, walked downstairs, went into the kitchen and looked in the kettle. It was full of little fish. Karen LBC.
Castle mentions an interesting case in which a woman who had been attending an infertility clinic with her husband could clearly see conception in her dream when it occurred. For two years while attending the clinic she constantly dreamt of having a baby, but there was always a problem attached to it. The baby might be too small to handle, to large, or it was a doll not a real baby. Always there was a problem connected with being able to mother the baby. Then suddenly the dreams changed. She woke from a dream which left her with warm feelings of fulfilment. In it she satisfyingly held her baby for the first time. She says the dream must have occurred within hours of the moment of conception.
Hey – I’m pregnant!
These dreams can be so powerfully supportive that the prospective mother can face difficulties that without the dream, she might not have met with confidence. For instance Peggy, a woman who believed from medical evidence that she could not, and should not have any more children – she already had two teenage sons – dreamt she was in hospital and had given birth to a girl baby named Kathy. Peggy begs for the baby to be taken away, but a voice cries out – ‘YOU MUST HAVE THIS BABY’. Peggy awoke distressed as she deeply wanted a child. But when the pregnancy was confirmed she struggled with the decision as to whether she ought to keep it. She was suffering a nerve complaint which necessitated the taking of sixteen aspirin tablets a day. Medical advice had suggested this could lead haemorrhaging, to a haemophiliac child. But Peggy decided to go ahead with the pregnancy because the dream and the commanding voice haunted her. The baby when delivered was perfectly healthy and a beautiful child.
In his book Our Dreaming Mind, Castle describes many dreams which occurred to women during their months of pregnancy, which gave detailed information about the condition of the foetus and its future health or sickness. Mother-in-laws often appear in these dreams, giving positive advice, sharing information, or in some way being responsible for bad events.
Not only do the dreams point out details of what diet might be helpful, what might happen with surgical operations, what the physical health and development of the growing baby is, but often they detail the disposition and personality of the coming baby. In fact women have often told me that during the middle months, they often dream they are meeting their baby and know just what it is like. So the bonding in such cases begins before birth. The relationship starts in dreams and quiet moments of communion.
It must be stressed that nightmarish dreams are a common part of most pregnancies, and in general do not indicate any difficulty with the growing baby. As already said, women who experience more anxiety dreams usually have a shorter labour. One investigator suggests this is because these women are often more assertive in life and in their dreams. Where dreams indicate actual problems, they have an extremely vivid quality which leaves the dreamer with a deep sense of their truth. This conviction does not rest on anxiety, but on insight.
The positive dreams of a mother in which she has a sense of knowing her baby’s character, can reach far beyond the birth of the baby. They inform the mother long into the life of the child, aiding how the mother responds to problems arising in the long years of rearing.
The enormous number of women who experience unusual dreams about their conception and baby is an powerful indicator that human nature goes beyond the boundaries of the physical senses, and information we gain via them. The dreams create a picture of the mother as a weaver of a life from the many strands offered by family genetic material, the subtle living influences streaming from the past, and the events, standards and social life of our times. The mother is a co-creator, standing in mysteries which, while she may not understand consciously, she nevertheless touches through her dreams, and manifests in the life of the child.