As a new mom, it’s normal to feel anxious about things that you cannot control – like post-partum nightmares.
Women experience it but rarely talk about it. In the first few days following childbirth, the body is recovering and re-adjusting itself, reason why raging hormones and other psychological physiological symptoms manifest themselves.
Among the many ways post-partum depression manifests itself is through your dreams.
A neighbor of mine, a new mom herself, once told me that she dreamt of her baby suffocating between the pillows and sheets in bed, which is a really common nightmare among moms that it got its own name – the BIB or Baby In Bed.
I, myself, dreamt that my 9-month old boy fell from our bed and I screamed my heart out at the sight of his lifeless body that it woke my husband up in real life.
Once, while I was napping with him, I dreamt that I forgot him inside the car and on my return from the grocery store, I found out that I left the car keys inside and he was turning blue.
According to a study, 73 percent of post-partum women have reported that they had nightmares of their infant meeting some kind of morbid incident and dying.
According to Tore Nielsen, Ph.D., post-partum nightmares might be due to short bouts of sleep during the first few months after childbirth.
This, according to Nielsen, is due to a rapid-eye movement (REM) rebound effect.
“When you get only short bouts of it (say, because of a crying baby), your need for this type of sleep builds up so that during your next stretch of sleep, you may actually have more REM sleep and, therefore, more intense and vivid dreams,” Glamour writes. “Combine that with out-of-whack hormones and a completely helpless new being to worry about, and it’s easy to see why a sleep-deprived new parent is a prime candidate for wild, lucid dreams.”
However, these dreams could not really mean something ominous is coming your way. In fact, according to the executive director of Postpartum Support International, the nightmares are a result of your bond with your baby.
“What new parents don’t realize is how many of these difficult, scary images happen because you’re attached and bonding with your baby,” said Wendy Davis, Ph.D. “In brain imaging studies, the part of the brain that lights up when new parents are having these intrusive thoughts is the part of the brain that deals with vigilance and protectiveness, not violence.”
Phew! At least somehow there’s an answer why post-partum nightmares happen so often and so common to moms.