Have you heard someone say they have baby fever? Experts are split on whether it’s a real phenomenon, but it’s a common colloquial term. What drives baby fever?
It’s a colorful way to explain the emotion of wanting to have or be around a baby. In 2011 researchers at Kansas State University explored the phenomenon and determined that baby fever does exist in both men and women, but it’s not so easily explained after that. Their research shows that people surrounded by the positive aspects of babies—looking at small baby clothes and baby toys, and seeing adorable babies and parent/child interactions— have an increase in their longing to have a baby. People who focus on the more negative aspects of babies—unpleasant smells, crying children—are less likely to experience baby fever and may even feel an aversion to the thought of having a baby.
Have you heard the term “ticking biological clock?” Although fertility does change with age, this term is rooted in psychological meaning, not physical. Societal pressure and personal desire to have a baby may spark feelings of baby fever, and can sometimes make someone feel like they’re ‘running out of time’ to have children. And for those who struggle to become pregnant, this feeling can be intensified.
Everyone’s body and life are different, and there’s no single perfect age to have children, and no hard-and-fast age is “too old” to have children. If you’re worried about your fertility, struggling to become pregnant, or considering adding to your family, talking to your provider about your individual health factors is the best place to start.
Baby fever is not uncommon in people who already have children. Someone who has recently given birth may have strong feelings that they need to become pregnant again quickly in order to have close-in-age siblings. Your family planning is a personal decision, however, there are health factors to consider when planning your pregnancy spacing.
Research shows that beginning a pregnancy within 6 months after giving birth increases risks for both the mother and the baby. After giving birth your body needs time to recover and build up necessary nutrients to support another birth. The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting between 18-24 months after birth to reduce the risk of complications. The appropriate pregnancy spacing can be very different depending on your personal health and risk factors and prior birth experiences, so consulting your provider is an important step in planning your next pregnancy.
Miscarriage is relatively common: about 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Despite it being common, it’s not always openly discussed, and the emotional effects of suffering from a miscarriage can be intense. Some women report strong feelings of baby fever after a miscarriage, prompting them to want to try for another pregnancy right away.
The good news is that in most cases, physical recovery from a miscarriage takes up to only a few days, and it’s possible to become pregnant during the next menstrual cycle immediately following a miscarriage. But it’s important to consult your provider to make sure that you’ve physically recovered and your health is in the right place to try again. For women who suffer from repeat miscarriages, your provider can help you test for underlying causes. The most important things are to make sure that both partners are both physically and emotionally ready to try again.
Nope! Longing to have a baby or child doesn’t affect everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you haven’t experienced that feeling. The presence or absence of baby fever also doesn’t indicate suitability for being a parent—many women who are fantastic mothers report never having had a longing for children before becoming a mother. And some women choose not to become mothers despite feeling baby fever. Your healthcare providers can help you navigate your choices and make decisions based on your health factors and lifestyle.