Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pregnancy and dreams

I’m sitting in the hospital bed holding our newborn baby girl. My dad is seated next to me. A visitor walks in and says “Oh, how precious! What’s her name?” My dad replies back “Emory Jade.” I tell him in a frustrated tone, “Dad, we haven’t committed to that name yet. Please stop telling people.” A second person walks in and the same scenario repeats. Then a third.

I awoke from my strange dream and shared it with my husband, Josh. After some thought, we decided to look up the name Jade and found it meant “belonging to God,” which fit a Bible verse Josh wanted to put in the nursery. With that it was settled: the name that came to me in a dream became our daughter’s name. -- Julie Swink, Sr. Marketing Specialist.

Many moms come into the OB/GYN office with stories of profound dreams or nightmares during pregnancy.

During the recent ice and snow storms, I had the opportunity to research this tough question because I felt like I didn’t have a good enough answer to provide. My patients deserve the best from me and I wanted to be able to share an answer with them that had more “meat on its bones.” 

What did I find? I found that yes, hormones in pregnancy can increase dream activity. But the real question my patients were asking was, “Do they MEAN anything?” (Great stuff.)

Well, in my quest I found an article that may shed some light on the matter. In 2008 the Journal of Psychiatric Research studied 290 women in their third trimester in Ireland. They divided dream activity into pleasant and unpleasant/nightmare dreams. The studied showed that pleasant dreams were associated with women over 35, had higher family income, higher educational level and a “satisfactory” physician–patient relationship. 

Unpleasant dreams were associated with women less than 35 years old, whose quality of information about pregnancy was not as satisfactory, and who had frequent thoughts of delivery. Although women with unpleasant dreams had higher levels of depression, they were found to have shorter labors. (Such irony.) 

I found this exercise to be very helpful. As a caring doctor, I am going to make sure each of my patients concerns is addressed. I’m going to strive to insure that our relationship is a sound one. Of course, I always believe our relationships are positive, but it will be good to double check and verify. I also will continue to keep my eye out for signs of depression in my patients because I now know that means that there’s a good chance she’s in for a short labor!

Antonio “Tony” Asis, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., is Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology and he is a member of the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.

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