How to Interpret Dreams of Children and Pregnancy
Dreams of a pregnancy or child can often mean change is coming.
Posted Jul 31, 2014
If you're interested in psychology, then you're interested in change. You may want to change the way you feel inside—especially about yourself. You may want to change the depth of your relationships, your communication patterns, or the people you choose to have in your life. You may want a new job or career path. You may even wish for a new spiritual power; one that holds you more lovingly throughout your days and ways.
While you have some influence over these changes, I've found in my 20 years of experience as a counselor that other factors affect the likelihood of those changes being realized or sustained. Sometimes timing plays a role, and no matter how much we try, change won’t happen until a certain time or date. Furthermore, some changes become easier once the world around us changes. For example, it is easier for some folks to come out as gay today than it was a decade or two ago. Lastly, there is a "spirit" or zeitgeist to consider, and this needs to be aligned with the changes we are trying to make as well.
Here are three dreams submitted to me, along with my response to them and further commentary. Enjoy!
Pregnancy: Change That's Growing Inside of You
Pregnancy in a dream can symbolize that something new is growing inside. It’s not out yet, but with some care and love—and if fortune is on our side preventing incident or miscarriage—nature will take her course and the growing “child” will manifest in our lives.
When people dream of being pregnant, I ask them if they sense, feel, or know what new thing is coming into their lives. “Have you been hoping for a change, considering a new path, exploring a next step in your life?” I might ask. And if they say, “Yes, what should I do?” then I say, “Be calm, tell a few chosen friends about it, approach it with a loving attitude, maybe begin arranging aspects of your life accordingly, and, if it’s right for you, try a little praying or meditating.”
This is the attitude that goes along with being pregnant. It’s less of a “doing” time, and more of a time for self-care and preparation. Consider the pregnancy dream below.
The dream: “I dreamt that I was unexpectedly pregnant by a man who was in an established relationship, but his partner was fine about it. We all were. In fact I think it was the second time that I was having one of his babies. There was an atmosphere of love and acceptance. I joked with him about how fertile we both were, [considering] in both instances I became immediately pregnant. Another friend was amazed to hear that his partner was so accepting. I said that I hadn't expected to be pregnant again at age 46 and wondered whether I would have a more complicated delivery, having had such a brilliant birth the last time. I thought about needing to get back to doing yoga.”
My response to the dreamer: "You are ripe, sister! One my favorite writers, Meridel LeSeuer, perhaps the first feminist writer in the U.S., once said to me, 'Ripeness is all.' She was 86 years old at the time and was ripe as a plum. I asked her if she still wrote, and she said, 'More than ever.' 'Why more?' I asked. 'I finally know what I want to say,' she replied. She said this about 50 years after her first novel was published.
"Your established self and life is open to your new dreams. That's great. You are free to follow something new that is arising without worry or hesitation, even though 'you' think there is less freedom for three reasons: age, the idea that your established life/self would resist, and the possibility that it might become too complicated. Just be flexible. Go with what's coming up next for you. Consider it a kind of yoga.”
Upon listening to my commentary, the dreamer informed me that she was about to “embark on an exciting new job” and was planning to rewrite a play.
Further commentary: Beginning something totally new is not entirely consistent with the way the dreamer thinks about herself. I know this because she doesn’t “expect” the pregnancy. In addition, she sees an established life, like the “established relationship” in the dream, as something that might not be open to something new. However, the dream says she is quite fertile—open to new directions, new projections, and change in her established life. In effect, she is a lot more ready, willing, and open to change than she knows. Change is likely to be easy, “accepted,” “loved,” and without much “complication.”
Lastly, it is worth noting that her hesitation about age is quite common. Many people, at varying ages, have a belief system that suggests that certain changes, risks, and developments can only be taken at an early age. Some people won’t make career changes at age 35, 40, or 60. While there are practical considerations for everyone, limiting beliefs about age can discourage people from following their heart.
The Abandoned Child: Change by Remembering
Sometimes we leave a part of ourselves behind in order to commit to our current life with its attendant responsibilities, goals, and ambitions. We put aside further education to raise children, sacrifice creative projects to build a relationship, forgo a career path that we find impractical, or even stop nurturing ourselves because of difficulties that require big efforts to address. There is no blame about this; guilt about these decisions is not terribly useful. However, our nighttime dreams may indicate that it is time to reconnect with, to remember, our “abandoned selves.” Consider the dream below.
The dream: “An unidentified other person and I went into an old, abandoned house, to rescue a neglected child. She had been there for three months, but seemed in very good condition, even having a dry diaper. We handed her over to some other party who would take care of her.
“Going back into the house in an attempt to figure out the mystery, we saw it was an arts and crafts bungalow (my favorite), with parts in serious neglect and disrepair. For instance, my companion noted that part of the ceiling was missing and had been replaced with cardboard and the flooring was not level.
“I stood at the door and heard a noise in the room. Something was coming down the stairs toward me. I could only see a glimpse, a motion, and the impression I had was that this was a troll making me afraid. However, as the scary creature came into the light, I saw that it was a tabby cat dressed up in a red sweater and denim shorts, which I thought were put on her by the child.”
My response to the dreamer: “I’m so glad that you rescued that child. Something new was born about three months ago. What was it? A vision, a hope, a plan? Don't worry so much about the framework of your life (the roof, the floor); It's the freedom to live your life, your art, and your craft that matters. That's what will make you happy; that's what will nourish your new life. Of course, some part of you wants it to look more 'together;' some part of you is scared that the boogey man will come out of the dark. But it's not the case. It’s just a more light and playful attitude toward life that is scaring you.”
Upon listening to my commentary, the dreamer informed me that three months earlier she was sparked by a new and grander vision and commitment to certain aspects of her life.
Further commentary: The abandoned child is a common motif in dreams—something has been left behind, forgotten, or dismissed. We may not be aware of this “abandonment” for two reasons: 1) Our decisions seemed to be so “right” at the time and thus the sacrifice was not deemed important, or 2) We followed a life path set for us by other’s expectations without questioning or becoming aware that we had even made a choice.
Here, the dreamer—with the help of an unknown part of herself (the unidentified other person)—discovers a child. Because the dream shows her becoming aware of the child (it is she, not someone else, that discovers the child), she is likely to be able to identify this abandoned part of her life when asked.
The dream reveals two obstacles to her making a change and integrating this part of her life, indicated by her worrying about the structure of the house and by her fear about the scary creature. In her everyday life, the dreamer may have “structural” worries—worries about how she will support herself or “keep a roof over her head.” That’s common—our old fears often arise when we are faced with a change and consider turning toward something left behind. However, the dream suggests these hurdles will not be too difficult. She is already learning that her fears may turn out to be like a “cat, red sweater, and shorts”—perhaps some simple joy of childhood.
The Discovered Child: Change That's Ready and Waiting
Sometimes a child (i.e., a life direction) has been left behind, but other times it is simply discovered at just the right time. A new life, not a resurrected one, is upon us. Our exploration can lead to our discovery of this “child,” or the child might be obscured or hidden within difficult feelings or the business of everyday life. This can keep us marching to an old beat while never making room for something new to blossom. The dream below suggests such a process.
The dream: “In my dream, there were smelly feet and a need to clean a huge dark, and dreary house. I was surprised to find I had tenants—three extra children tucked in a room. I opened their stubborn windows to clear out the smell. I was thinking that cross ventilation will help air out the popcorn-cheesy-stinky-feet-smell.”
My response to the dreamer: “It's time to clear things out and make room for something new. The dream suggests that there are already three new things waiting—things you were not aware of or had dismissed as unattainable or unrealistic. Don't let go of your dreams for your life. Be a bit more 'stubborn' and insistent. Stay close to what truly moves you and follow that. You might also want to take a moment of reflection and list three things that you dismissed but still want.”
Upon hearing my commentary, the dreamer reported that she was “navigating three goals right now: teaching, writing and renewing her counseling license.” She said, “All three I cherish, and each one has certain caveats and have felt rather daunting.”
Further commentary: Sometimes dreams include specific numbers. They don’t always mean there are a specific number of things to consider, though. Dreams can also present more than one of something in order to amplify the importance of the symbol. However, I took an educated guess for this dreamer that there were three specific things, and indeed there were.
The dream also suggests that making space for these three "children," or new things in her life, may require a little force, conviction, or “stubbornness.” I love details like this in dreams that show a kind of attitude one needs in taking on a new task.
While I didn’t raise the issue of the darkness or dreariness in my response to the dreamer (depicted by the “huge, dark, and dreary house”), I wondered whether she suffered from a little bit of a depression or low mood. If that turned out to be the case, I would think that her mood might not lift with antidepressants, positive self-talk, or other remedies alone. Rather, her low moods might not really lift unless she took on her new tasks.
Bedrick, David. (2013). Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology. Santa Fe, NM: Belly Song Press.