Weird Dreams and Occasional Nightmares

To any of you who have had vivid dreams and or nightmares after giving birth… Does this torture stop? If so, how long did you experience it before it settled down after delivery?

Some background: Since my early twenties I have not usually remembered my dreams or known I had been dreaming when I awoke. The change from having memorable dreams to not knowing what, if or how often I had dreamt was deliberate. It was necessitated after I was in a motor vehicle accident that left me with a brain injury one effect of which was to flood me – day and night – with memories I had buried in far corners of my mind and not recalled since childhood — when Very Bad Things had happened. I learned with professional help after that accident to forget my dreams and more often to have no awareness that I had actually dreamed. I do not remember how we did it. 
During Azulito’s pregnancy I dreamt a great deal. I had the odd nightmare but most of the time the dreams were vivid and often weird but not unsettling. Weird vivid dreams were often one of the first symptoms of my lost pregnancies and of my two successful ones. I accepted them as par for the hormonal course. 

But the endless dreaming and more frequent nightmares I have encountered since baby Azulito was born in early June are wearing me out. I wake up more exhausted than when I go to bed even though this baby is a rather good sleeper and is not the direct cause for my lousy sleep. 

This morning I had a vivid dream that went on for ages and ended as a jarring and violent nightmare. I still feel unsettled and shaken. 

This cannot go on night after night. At least I do not know how I could possibly go back to work and function if these nightly trips to a wild and sometimes scary dreamland persist. Perhaps this is a new outlet for expressing my anxiety? The dreams are not about everyday things for the most part. They are of another realm or at least another life than the one I presently lead. 

Have any of you experienced this, whether as part of the post partum period or otherwise?  If so, what did you do to make it stop? 

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34 thoughts on “Weird Dreams and Occasional Nightmares

  1. I’m sorry the limited rest you get with a newborn is interrupted with odd dreams and nightmares. Most of my postpartum dreams (and I’ve always had very vivid dreams about things I’ve suppressed) have been about me looking for the baby. My husband finds me holding my pillow out to him in the middle of the night still while I’m still asleep telling him to take the baby and put him in his bassinet. I chalked it up to sleepless delirium. Are there any natural herbs or remedies you’re open to taking (BF safe) like melatonin or perhaps essential oils before bed (lavender, sandalwood). Hoping you get some peaceful rest soon. You’ve certainly got enough on your plate and you deserve rejuvenating sleep!

    • Interesting. I have a hunch the dreams especially the bad ones are allegories about things I have either suffered or fear having happen. The worst ones have a thread of imminent harm, a lack of control, a race against time and fear, heaps of both rational and irrational fears.

    • Do you know whether melatonin is safe when BFing? Lavender never actually puts me to sleep or makes me feel truly chilled but perhaps that’s just my nature. I am going to ask my TCMD as she suggested some homeopathic stuff for the MT when he was going through a really Velcro Kid period (glued to mama). It seemed to help the first time but not the second and I swear I’ve never noticed any big improvement when I’ve taken homeopathy treatments before (once I actually had a severe reaction instead, it exacerbated a mild anaphylaxis response and made it much worse) so I’m not super hopeful. I had terrible dreams and little sleep during and for quite a while after the third pregnancy in 2013 that ended at ~11 weeks. I was only night nursing then and my Dr. put me on sleeping pills; they didn’t make me sleep but made me feel like a complete zombie the next day (much like how I felt on Ativan). I expect I have some trauma replaying itself here and will need an alternative modality caregiver to help me. My TCMD recommended a sacro cranial therapist to resolve any birth trauma for me and baby A but I wasn’t feeling the need. Perhaps there is some other energy I need to clear however. Who knows.

      • Unfortunately I do not know about melatonin and bfing. Acupuncture sessions with a cd of positive affirmations playing during my session helped me sleep better…not sure if positive affirmations are your thing (I didn’t think they were mine until I tried it with acupuncture) but it cleared my head and I slept wonderfully. For days following each treatment. The affirmations helped me sort through the clutter in my head as well. Hoping you find a solution to the wild dreams and any underlying concerns your subconscious is trying to work out.

  2. How many weeks do you have before you have to go back to work? I only remember my dreams while pregnant or when I’m on Clomid. And in those two cases they are always bizarre, terrible and stressful. I happen to be on Clomid right now because they are adding it to my IVF cycle, so I’m having some weird ones. I don’t have any advice for you, but I do think it will pass. I just hope it passes soon so you can a) get some sleep and b) not go back to work a zombie. I agree with you that the dreams could be some sort of PTSD. Like, alllll the shit you’ve been dealing with the last few years is now just creeping out in your dreams.

    • Ugh. That’s a bleak connection that I actually hadn’t made myself but seems quite plausible. My dreams of late are bizarre, terrible and stressful too. Yuck. I’m sorry you’re experiencing that too and hope it is short-lived.

  3. I very rarely dream, or maybe I should say I very rarely remember my dreams. And I’ve virtually never have nightmares, which of course is something I’m grateful for. So, all of this means that I have absolutely no advice. But, I do really hope your dreams turn pleasant, it’s never fun waking up exhausted and unsettled.

        • Hello! 1:29 am here and WIDE awake right now. I feel your pain. I have always had that problem, too. 😦 The crazy dreaming makes it worse because let’s face it who wants to go back to sleep after that? I just spent time searching the entire house for the dog because I dreamed she had a gored intestine (from stealing the LP’s pork chop while we were tag team parenting an exhausted and monstrously behaved then sobbing (after a knock-down blow out with me) toddler. Sigh. Perhaps my dreams are a reflection of my stress?!

        • It sounds to m like your dreams are the reflection amid stress and ironically a lack of sleep too. I still have no advice, but sadly sadly do expect you may experience this lack lack sleep for a long while yet given the age of your little ones.

        • Ugh. Lack of sleep I can do. Lack of restful sleep and incessant dreaming and frequent nightmares I cannot. I think maybe stress is behind a lot of this. Clare made that point too and it resonates. I think I’m going to take a stress inventory and see if there are things I can do to reduce some of the stressors and at the same time try Lindsey’s (Awaiting Autumn) tips for sleep apps or cd.

  4. I always always been a crazy dreamer. I started going to bed using a sleep CD years ago to let get myself past the dream phase and into deep sleep. Since getting pregnant (and waking up multiple times a night), I can’t get away from them. Mine are extra bizarre too – new places and situations that make me think past lives – either mine or my child’s. I have tried essential oils too, but some nights nothing works. I just keep hoping they go away once he arrives, but your situation makes me think otherwise. If you wanted to try a brain wave sleep sound, there’s a few apps you can download instead of buying a CD.

  5. I had lots of nightmares and weird, intense dreams for a few month postpartum and then bouts of insomnia after that. I think for sure it’s a product of whacked out hormones and the disrupted sleep that comes with waking up to feed a baby multiple times a night. I would say though, in your case you’ve also been in a state of chronic stress for quite a while. It might be worth looking at that side of things. It may be that your body is so used to being in a heightened state that now you just can’t switch of and have a peaceful sleep. I’m not sure if any of that rings true to you, basically I’m talking from my own experience over the past while. I finally had to get on some anxiety meds because of this very thing. Really hope you can get it figured out though! There’s nothing worse than having insomnia on top of the regular new baby sleep woes.

  6. Wow, that sounds miserable. I’m sure this is waaaaay oversimplifying, but the more sleep deprived I am, the more vivid and memorable my dreams – the good, the weird, and the scary. Is it possible that once your sleep patterns “normalize” again this will improve for you? I know that’s not much of a solution for what sounds like a debilitating challenge for you. And from the sounds of it, stress is definitely a factor for you, too. Not that I’m one to take advice from on stress management…not in the least! I just hope it improves for you ASAP. 😦

    • I actually think that’s a huge part of it. I wish I knew how to normalize my sleep and get back to sleeping deeply so my entire night isn’t a litany of waking up frequently and dreaming during the intervals between those wakenings. Stress is part of it for sure too. A toddler who can bring me to tears and my consequential less than stellar parenting is another I’m sure.

      • The older I get, the more I think the answer to all life’s problems is adequate sleep. Sometimes I think we could establish world peace if everyone would just get enough shut eye each and every night. It’s the key.

        Your parenting, however, IS in fact stellar. You are doing all that you can under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. I know you. You are giving every ounce of your being toward MT and Azulito and then some. This, too, shall pass. MT will adjust with time and in the interim, you will live one day at a time and aim to keep everyone sane and safe until life hits a plateau again.

  7. mmm… Hi! I just found your blog over at Lindsay’s. Anyway, I’m no therapist of any sort, but I wanted to tell you you’re not alone! When the girls were a few months old, I had the most terrible nightmares and would wake up having panic attacks in the middle of the night almost every day. Sometimes, the panic attacks would come during the day and I’d try to sleep to make them go away. I believe both the nightmare and the attacks were caused by exhaustion. Even though your baby is a good sleeper, babies tend to put us out of our rotine. Sometimes we’re tired, but we’re still rocking them to sleep. Sometimes we’re hungry, but we can’t eat. Sometimes we wanna go to the bathroom, but we just can’t… and that’s pretty frustrating and exhausting for me at least (and I had help!). The nightmares stopped at one point and so did the panic attacks. Try breathing exercises, good music and family movies on the background… =) I do that a lot.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and kind words. I think you’re right, exhaustion is a huge part of things. I think I am also on high alert all night or pretty much 24/7, afraid this baby will not stay alive – leftover anxiety from our 8 pregnancy losses I guess. 😦

      I hadn’t thought of the movies. I will try that. No shortage of family movies around our house these days!

      • I’ve just put on old disney movies and the girls fell asleep. Its somewhat comforting and I remember the scenes from my childhood, when things were so much more simple… 🙂 no problem, btw! Your baby will be fine! Happy, peaceful thoughts!!! Thoughts have power, ya know?

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