Such behavior may reflect a mother's state of maternal vigilance, and it may even serve a functional role in infant care-giving, the researchers said. Or the behavior may be a sign of a disruptive sleep disturbance that interferes with maternal duties.
Pregnant women had similar types of anxiety dreams in which the focus was the unborn child and the possibility of birth complications, even the intense hallucinated presence of the unborn infant.
A woman's body goes through drastic changes during pregnancy, Dr. Nielsen said, and these changes, physical, hormonal, and emotional may be enough to affect sleep. Most pregnant women experience daytime fatigue even though they may get enough sleep, mainly because the quality tends to be worse.
Finally, the researchers said, they were surprised to learn that 10 of 119 (7.6%) new mothers queried about their spouses' experience reported that the men had one or more dream-associated activities concerning the infant. Episodes ranged from sleep-talking to searching for the infant in bed or walking while carrying a pillow believed to be the infant.