Pregnancy and Postnatal Dreams Reflect Changes Inherent to the Transition to Motherhood

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to describe and compare the pattern of dreams of pregnant women and new mothers as an expression of the changes inherent to the transition to motherhood. Ninety-eight antenatal and 68 postnatal dreams were collected from 20 women during the third trimester of pregnancy and at 10–12 weeks' postpartum, and dream content was coded and analyzed with theHall and Van de Castle (1966)Coding System for dreams. Perinatal dreams were found to consistently reflect expected changes associated with the transition to motherhood, thus supporting the continuity hypothesis of dreaming. Women's dreams reflected awareness of the unborn and newborn baby, an enhancement of protective functions to take care of an infant, and a strong focus on family members. χ2 analyses revealed some significant differences between antenatal and postnatal dreams, which suggest the progressive development of infant and maternal-related attitudes and representations and point to characteristics that may be specific to each period. Also, the results support the notion that pregnancy and childbirth are generally considered joyful and positive experiences for healthy, low-risk women.

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