Aaaachoo! Oh, excuse me. Seems I’ve given you the baby bug. Hey, don’t look at me like that! Scientists have confirmed that pregnancy is contagious! Well, something must’ve been going around in the US in 2010 because that’s when pregnancy rates reached their highest at 6.2 million expectant mothers!
So, what could’ve caused this sudden and unexpected baby boom? Well, a 2014 study by The American Sociological Association suggests that pregnancy can, in fact, be contagious… but only on a psychological level. Over a 10-year span, the researchers interviewed and studied 1,720 women in an attempt to figure out what the connection was between close friendships that started back in school and a desire to have a child.
In the end, half of the women ended up having kids, and they admitted that their decision was partly based on the fact that their female friends had already given birth. If you think about it, the results of this study aren’t all that strange. Humans are social beings, after all. That’s why our environment and interpersonal interactions have a huge impact on our decisions.
When a woman sees a pregnant friend, she can easily get a subconscious message that pregnancy is a good thing. Otherwise, her friend wouldn’t have done it, right? Some other factors also come into play that may affect a woman’s fertility intentions. It’s no secret that taking care of a baby is anything but easy. I know, “Understatement of the Year Award goes to…” Anyway, it’s extremely demanding trying to juggle so many commitments all at once.
Add a lot of sleepless nights to it, and you get the idea. But when a woman sees that her friend with a kid is managing her life just fine and feels so rewarded by it, well, it boosts her confidence and interest in her own parenting abilities. But friends can influence not only if or when a woman decides to have a baby, but also how many children she has.
A 2014 report in the Journal Demographic Research states that there’s a strong correlation between friendship and birth rates. It can be explained with the same reasons – if a woman’s friend with 3 kids is managing the mommy lifestyle like a champ, then she’ll feel like she can do it too. Plus, there’s always that desire for your children to have playdates with your friend’s kids! Surprisingly enough, this “pregnancy contagion” thing doesn’t occur when it comes to siblings.
Some scientists put it down to the fact that people have stronger emotional bonds to their friends than with their siblings. That is, our friends play a more prominent role in our lives than our brothers or sisters do, especially as adults. So, all this means that a woman’s chances of getting pregnant increase with every friend who has a baby. And if she does get pregnant, her body is up for a 9-month journey full of fascinating changes! For example…
1. “Pregnancy brain” can ensue.
Have you ever heard of “momnesia”? It’s pretty much an onset of constant absentmindedness that many pregnant women experience. They tend to forget stuff and may find it hard to concentrate. One study revealed that about 80% of expectant mothers have memory impairment.
But what causes these mommy memory lapses still remains unknown. Some researchers believe that it might be because of hormonal changes or because a woman feels stressed out during pregnancy. Ya know, worrying about how drastically her life will change after the baby is born. Yeah, she’s got a lot to think about!
2. Her heart gets bigger.
You might think that when a woman gets pregnant, only her belly grows in size. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Her heart also gets bigger because blood volume increases up to 50% to supply enough oxygenated blood to the baby.
The heart has to pump all that extra blood around the body, which means double the work. And without an increase in size, that’d just be impossible! But it’s not only her heart (and belly!) that get bigger…
3. Her feet can grow.
An expectant mother has a perfect excuse to go on a shoe-shopping spree because quite often, her regular shoes become too small! It happens because of a hormone called relaxin that’s produced during pregnancy. Its main task is to make the pelvic joints more flexible for childbirth.
But it loosens joints throughout the whole body as well! That’s why a foot (which has more than 30 joints, mind you!) can get as much as a whole shoe-size bigger! Sometimes weight gain or swelling can contribute to this too.
4. Her voice can change.
Believe it or not, all those hormones pumping through a pregnant body can cause some changes in a woman’s voice as well. An increase in estrogen and progesterone levels may result in swelling of the vocal cords.
That’s why higher notes are lost, and a pregnant woman may speak with a deeper voice. It can also happen because there’s a significant increase in body fluids, which make vocal cords vibrate at a slower rate than before. What’s more, pregnancy causes the pelvis, back, and chest to shift, and this can affect a woman’s posture, which, in turn, can cause her to have a hard time singing during the last trimester. No, not sitting, singing! Fascinating stuff, right?
5. Pregnancy can last longer than 9 months.
If all these changes weren’t hard enough, guess what? They can last longer than the 9-month term we’ve all come to associate with pregnancy. Normally, a pregnancy lasts for 280 days (or about 9 months), and only 4% of women give birth to a child after that.
Most women usually deliver within 10 days of their expected due date. But some of them get to carry their newborns much longer. There are cases of 10- or even 11-month pregnancies! And the longest time on record that a woman was pregnant for is 375 days. Yeah, crunch the numbers, and that’s one year and 10 days. I guess some buns need a little more time in the oven!
6. Sense of smell heightens.
More often than not, a pregnant woman’s senses become much sharper, kinda like a superhero! That’s especially the case with the sense of smell. It could be anything from foods and drinks to the scent of other people that a pregnant woman can suddenly feel much stronger than usual.
Unpleasant odors may become more intense than before, and the smells a soon-to-be mom once liked can make her nose wrinkle. But other scents become a lot more pleasant, so it’s not all bad! It’s still not fully understood why this happens, but some experts believe that it’s kinda like the body’s way of beefing up an expectant mother’s ability to detect environmental dangers to her baby, like unsafe or spoiled foods, for instance. Speaking of food…
7. The bizarre cravings
How about hot sauce on a spoonful of peanut butter? Yeah, most people wouldn’t find this combo appealing, but a pregnant woman just might! Hormonal spikes can cause changes in her sense of taste as well, and that’s why she starts having food cravings that may seem weird to others.
For most women, that urge to eat a particular food is so strong that they simply can’t shake it off, and they need to give in. Some experts suggest that this is a way for the body to get what it needs. For example, if a pregnant woman craves a lot of red meat, it can be a sign that she has an iron deficiency.
8. A partner can experience pregnancy symptoms too.
Yup, you’ve heard that right! A partner of a soon-to-be mom or even her close friend or relative can also gain weight, have morning sickness, and experience back pain during her pregnancy. This is called Couvade syndrome or “sympathetic pregnancy”.
Scientists can’t agree on what causes it, but the most logical explanation lies in the human ability to be empathetic. Those partners or loved ones who are very supportive and caring feel so emotionally involved in the pregnancy and spend so much time with a future mom that it triggers their body to mimic the same changes. It’s also a way for partners to develop an attachment to the baby.
But once the woman delivers the child, all those symptoms that her partner had usually disappear! So try to stay strong, all you expectant mothers, fathers, grandparents, best friends, neighbors, and anyone else taking care of a “contagious” pregnant woman!
So, how many kids would you like to (or do you!) have, if you want kids at all? Feel free to share in the comments down below! Don’t forget to rate “Scientists Prove Pregnancy Can Be Contagious”. Share it with your friends (hey, apparently they’re sharing their baby bug with you!).
Credit: Bright Side