It probably has nothing to do with actually having a baby.
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Have you ever dreamt you were pregnant? I sure have, and as someone not looking to have children just yet, it can be quite disconcerting and scary to truly believe you are pregnant . ..even if it's just for the duration of your dream. (Unless, of course, you've mastered the art of lucid dreaming.)

Pregnant Woman
Credit: Getty Images

For others who are looking to conceive, it may be an exciting dream, but regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, having a pregnancy dream doesn't necessarily have to be about having a baby at all. Like many dreams, it could be a metaphor pointing to something deeper.

"Being pregnant in a dream when you aren't [actually pregnant] or even thinking about being pregnant in waking life is a very common dream scenario," says dream decoding expert and author of the forthcoming book How to Catch a Dream Theresa Cheung. Popular pregnancy dreams include being heavily pregnant, in labor, giving birth to an ugly baby, or being pregnant with your ex's kid, she says. (Don't worry — we'll break down all of those scenarios later.)

So why do we have dreams that we're pregnant and how can we decipher what they are actually trying to tell us? Here, Cheung breaks down why exactly you're having these dreams and what they mean.

Why Are You Dreaming of Being Pregnant?

In most cases, dreaming you are pregnant doesn't equate to being with child IRL, but it could be. "The first step with dream interpretation before you move to the symbolic and psychological is always literal," Cheung tells us. "Literal interpretations are exceedingly rare but they need to be ruled out first." In order to figure that out, you need to pay attention to how you feel about your pregnancy in your dream, she says. "If you were terrified, your dreaming mind may be advising you to check your birth control." Put simply? Make sure you're not actually pregnant, just in case your dreaming mind is trying to tell you something.

Your pregnancy dream could also be out of "wish fulfillment" or "fear of getting pregnant," Cheung explains. "Your dreams reflect what truly matters in your waking life and can offer opportunities for you to role-play being pregnant, and if you have pregnancy-related dreams that are frightening, this can help you release fertility-hindering anxiety," she explains.

Once you've taken inventory and crossed off the more literal meanings above, you can examine why else you might be experiencing a pregnancy dream. Cheung says it could be your mind telling you to try new things and "find ways to reach your full potential."

"These dreams really encourage you to consider your future and how you are actually creating [that] by the actions, thoughts, and feelings you give birth to in every moment," she says. "Reflect on what kind of future you are actually conceiving for yourself right now with your first waking thoughts."

How to Interpret Your Pregnancy Dreams

Now that you've discovered the "why," it's time to start decoding. Start by remembering that "the symbols in your dreams always relate to what is current in your waking life," says Cheung. "Let your dream wisdom offer you new perspectives and insights."

Of course, there's a long list of possible interpretations besides the obvious of wanting to conceive or being fearful of an accidental pregnancy. Cheung says it can be anything from wanting a fresh start to longing for unconditional love and acceptance. "Your dreaming mind may be suggesting to start with self-nurturing," she explains. "Look within yourself for loving acceptance rather than externally."

Here are a few interpretations based on your specific dream:

If you go into labor in the dream...

The dream could also allude to a period of waiting, says Cheung. Maybe you're currently having to display patience or determination towards the completion of a project. "A new area of your personality or idea is developing or hatching, and the seeds of something new are growing in your waking life," she says. She also adds that if you actually give birth or go into labor in the dream, it could mean that your hard work will soon be rewarded.

If you suffer from morning sickness in your dream, or have a pregnancy glow...

Maybe you're just entering a new phase in your life, and if that's the case Cheung says to "pay attention to how you feel about your dream pregnancy as this reflects how confident you are about this new beginning." For instance, if you're suffering from morning sickness in your dream, she says it could be a bad sign of whatever you're metaphorically giving birth to. On the contrary, if you've got that pregnancy glow, then you're probably doing the right thing in your waking life.

If you dream someone else you know is pregnant....

If you dream that somebody else you know is pregnant, then Cheung says that could mean there is a part of you that needs to be nurtured "in order to fulfill your potential or learn new skills" or that person has taught you something that has helped you to evolve.

If you dream of being pregnant with your ex's child...

Then there's the controversial scenario of being pregnant with your ex's child. But before you wake up feeling icky, sad, or confused, Cheung tells us that it's actually a great sign of growth. "Your dreaming mind is trying to tell you that your past relationship led to the birth of new insight within you, and this is a positive thing," she says. "You grew in life experience because of that relationship, and the wisdom you gained has matured you." Again, if you experience morning sickness in your dream it could point to a toxic nature of the relationship.

She adds, "[These] dreams remind us of the importance of knowing when it is time to let go of the past and come to terms with the new."

If you have multiple babies or misplace the baby....

Now, if you actually give birth in the dream, Cheung says that generally represents a new beginning. She also suggests focusing on how difficult the labor is, because that symbolizes the dedication or discipline you'll need in the real world to accomplish your goals. She adds that what you give birth to will also point to what part of your life is changing.

"If you give birth to many babies this suggests lots of exciting new directions but also a warning not to spread yourself too thin," she says. "If the baby gets lost or is misplaced perhaps you have lost your focus or need to get back on track in some way to focus on what truly matters."

If your baby is a monster...

If the baby turns out to be ugly or a monster, then something in your life may be out of sorts or you may be involved in something that's out of your comfort zone, says Cheung. It could also speak to things not going accordingly.

The Bottom Line on Pregnancy Dreams

Typically, there is nothing to worry about when it comes to having dreams that you're pregnant. It happens to all of us (even men!). But pay attention to specifics to help you decode what your dreams are trying to tell you. Often times, our subconscious is alerting us to something that isn't yet obvious to us in the real world.