Drug use negatively impacts lives beyond that of the user. This is never truer than…
Addicted to Being Pregnant
Addiction is a complicated and sometimes mysterious disease. It becomes particularly mysterious when an addict isn’t fixed on a chemical like a drug or alcohol. People can develop behavioral addictions to activities like shopping or gambling, and how this happens is not fully understood. The latest type of addiction to be identified is pregnancy. Some women get attached to the feeling of being pregnant and of having a big family. It may sound ridiculous, but it has become a real problem for some women.
The media haven’t helped when it comes to women obsessing over pregnancy and having kids. Shows that follow the lives of huge families are popular. Paparazzi strive to get photos of early baby bumps of pregnant celebrities. Our culture is in the middle of a baby frenzy. Most women, even those with big families, are not addicted to being pregnant, but the emotional and physical yearning to have a baby is real.
Researchers from Kansas State University have found that baby fever is a real phenomenon and that it can affect men as well as women. They used surveys designed to assess the desires and attitudes of participants toward children and being pregnant. The results showed that the main motivating factors in wanting to have children were positive experiences with babies. The researchers propose that exposure to babies triggers emotional and physical responses that lead women to want to get pregnant.
The research about baby fever does not demonstrate that there is anything unnatural about the desire to get pregnant. What is not normal is becoming obsessed with the idea of being pregnant and then acting on it. Some women actually report feeling obsessive about being pregnant and display addictive-like behaviors. For instance, a woman in England who has four children of her own acts as a surrogate mother for other women. She does it for free because she desires the high she gets from being pregnant. She doesn’t want more children. She simply wants to be pregnant and feels empty when she isn’t.
How can this obsession with pregnancy be explained? It isn’t an addiction to alcohol or drugs, but there are similarities. Women addicted to pregnancy feel empty when they aren’t carrying a child. This is similar to the feelings drug addicts have that lead them to use. Both are filling a psychological or emotional void. For some women, it is the neediness and love of an infant that helps to fill the hole, while for others, it is the physicality of being pregnant. It can also be both.
In a way, the obsession with pregnancy is like a drug addiction. The body produces a hormone during sex, pregnancy and childbirth and while one is caring for an infant. The hormone, called oxytocin, helps people bond with one another and with their infants. It is possible, although research is inconclusive, that oxytocin acts like a drug. It feels good to be flooded with the “love hormone.” Another aspect of pregnancy that could become addictive is the attention. Pregnant women are often treated with respect and extra care. That special attention can become addictive, especially for a woman who has always craved the love and attention of others.
Just exactly how pregnancy addiction works, or whether it truly is an addiction, remains to be seen. What we know for sure is that some women do become dangerously obsessed with carrying a child. If being pregnant fills a void for you, you may need psychological help. One can’t be pregnant forever. Learn how to fill the void in more healthful and productive ways.