My dreams have me really worried. They’re really scary dreams, about deformities and death. This has me concerned if maybe I’m getting subliminal messages through my dreams or that they mean something is wrong. Is that possible?
Since ancient times, people have been trying to solve the riddle of why we dream, but no one knows for sure what purpose dreams have, if any. We do know that dreams happen during the REM phase of sleep, which is critical for learning and language, and something called procedural memory, in which we store the various steps involved in accomplishing things.
A lack of deep sleep appears to inhibit decision-making ability. Almost every pregnant woman has some scary dreams about her baby at some point: that the baby is born deformed, or it dies, or she leaves the baby somewhere by accident. That does not mean that anything that you dream about is actually going to happen or that anything is wrong with you or the baby. It could be that your dreams are your brain’s way of processing your worries and filing away what you learned that day so that after the baby’s born you’ll be prepared to act first and think later—your brain is rehearsing different scenarios as a way to process the strong emotions of impending motherhood.
For instance, death in your dream may be the way that your brain is processing and filing away your fears about the huge life transformation of becoming a mother. You know this major life change is coming and is unavoidable and you don’t know if it’s going to be wonderful or horrible. You can’t know yet if the baby will be perfect and healthy you’ll fall in love at first sight, or the opposite. We must be honest that sometimes terrible things do sometimes happen: stillbirths, deformities, truly scary mothering moments. But the odds are very high that the truth will be somewhere in the middle: motherhood will be both heavenly and horrible, there will be moments during birth and after that scare you to the very core, and your new baby will be perfect and loveable and also a slimy alien-looking creature.
If you feel scared often during your pregnancy, write down your fears as specifically as possible: stillbirth, deformities, a crisis you can’t handle, you won’t love your baby. Then ask your health care provider straight-up how likely these things are to happen and what will happen next if they do. You can’t completely erase all of your fears, but the more you know, the less power your nagging fears will have over your mind.