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You're leading a cheer at a high school football game. You know you've had your baby, but you don't know where he is. Suddenly you remember: You left your baby at the gym!
Some dream images typically appear at certain stages of pregnancy. For help figuring out what your dreams might be telling you, read on. The following excerpts, adapted from Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams by psychologist Patricia Garfield, describe some common dreams you may have during the final weeks of your pregnancy and their possible interpretations.
Imagining the uncharted territory of birth and motherhood
"I am boarding a plane, going off to a foreign country somewhere. I am pregnant but not so much as I am now. I have a bad feeling, like I don't really want to go. I am not in exile. People are escorting me. I have to go, but it is not for long."
– Cheryl's dream five days before she delivered
Cheryl's dream expresses an emotion women typically experience toward the end of gestation: reluctance to confront the unknown.
For a first-time mother, giving birth is rather like a journey to a foreign country. Face to face with her own adventure, she has an important starring role, even though it is with reluctance, since she must go along. The fact that Cheryl knows she is "not in exile" in the dream and that the trip is "not for long" suggests that her attitude is basically positive and that she expects to return safely.
Giving birth, in addition to being depicted as a journey or an important commitment, may be represented as traveling through tunnels and corridors or the bursting of great waters.
Waiting for your baby's arrival
"In the dream, we had the baby two days ago. I have gone somewhere while Nat (my husband) is taking care of the baby. He's taken it to a sporting event with a bunch of his buddies. I go to the football stadium. It is a beautiful, sunny day. There is a combination football and baseball game going on. One team wears bright red uniforms and the other yellow. I walk up the bleachers, and Nat tells me where the baby is. I look behind where there is a cabana-like arrangement with three babies. It is easy to pick out mine. It is time to feed the child, and so I nurse it. I think that I must ask Nat how the labor went. He comes in. The whole dream has a feeling of great happiness."
– Sonny's dream three days before she delivered
There is much symbolism in this involved dream, but the main points here are the sensation of joy at having finished childbirth and the complex game. Sonny explained that she likes football and knows a lot about it. Baseball she sees as boring – it takes a long time before anything happens. Thus the combination is something with interesting elements but that requires a lot of waiting before there is any action – just as pregnancy does.
The ball in the game probably represents the fetus, whose motion will determine the end of the "waiting game." Being nine months pregnant, Sonny expresses here a wish for her baby's arrival and the pleasure she anticipates. The game is not over, and the outcome remains unknown.
Taking responsibility as a parent
"I go into labor. I'm walking around the living room and I feel the baby's head come out. I reach down and pull it out – it's a little girl. The head is flesh and skin, but the body is just bones. I'm worried. This is not right. I blow on the baby or breathe on her, and she fills out to normal-looking. I'm still kind of concerned she will stay okay when I wake."
– Leah's dream two days before she delivered
Although "blowing" or "breathing" on a newborn may be simple behavior, the important fact is that Leah took action in her dream. In so doing, she transformed the dream baby. Subsequently, she gave birth to her first child – a girl – in a short, six-hour delivery.
Taking charge, having confidence in herself, and being in command may help a woman cope with the job of giving birth. If you are being threatened in a nightmare, you may find that instead of letting yourself be victimized, assertively reacting to the situation can make a profound difference. Not only will you feel better about your nightmare, you may find your labor is shorter and easier.
When short- and long-labor groups were asked about how assertive they were during nightmares, researchers found that there was a strong connection between the dream content and the length of labor. Among the women who had short labor, 94 percent had been assertive in at least one of their nightmares. Among the women who had long labor, only 30 percent had been assertive, whereas the remaining 70 percent had been victimized.