Why a Friend’s Pregnancy Can Boost Your Chances of Conceiving
You are more likely to get pregnant when a friend is already pregnant
Something about our old apartment got people pregnant. For four years we lived in a 5th floor apartment in Rome. It was a lovely historic building perched on a street brimming with trees, cappuccino bars and buses roaring up and down, night and day. That’s where I became pregnant with our second child, exactly one year after our first was born AND our third baby, only six months later. We’d always wanted three children and since my husband and I started in our late 30s, the idea was to just keep things rolling if we could. We were very lucky.
In between these three babies of our own the babysitter got pregnant. That’s not so unusual I suppose but when our second babysitter got knocked up, I started to have suspicions. So when my friend and her husband, a couple who’d been struggling to get pregnant for many months, came to stay with us in Italy I jokingly told her, well, you’ve come to the right place! And I was right. When she got home to the US, she found out she had, in fact, conceived in Italy. And it was twins.
What is it about pregnancy that sometimes seems contagious? It happens often with sisters, friends and coworkers too. Even Jessica Simpson can relate. She’s had two babies close together, and for the second go-around, her best friend was pregnant at the same time too.
So what is it? There’s actually a lot of interesting information about pregnancy out there, stats and make-you-think patterns like these nuggets from a fascinating list of 24 Random Facts About Pregnancy:
- Each year in the United States, there are approximately six million pregnancies. This means that at any one time, about 4% of women in the U.S. are pregnant.
- Only 25% of couples actively trying to conceive will experience pregnancy within the woman’s first cycle. However, 90% of couples will achieve pregnancy within the first 12 months of actively trying.
- About 3% of all pregnant women will give birth to twins. This rate is an increase of nearly 60% since the early 1980s. However, 17% of pregnant women over 45 will give birth to twins.
- Nigeria has the highest twinning rate in the world at around 4.5%. Some experts attribute this number to the large consumption of yams in Nigeria.
Then there’s all the information about how pregnancy rates are declining in general:
- The New York Times reported last year that “[pregnancy] rates have decreased over the past two decades among all races, ethnicities and age groups—except for women in their 30s and early 40s.” More specifically: [pregnancy] rates for women 35 to 39 rose 38 percent, and rates among women 40 to 44 went up 65 percent.
- Teen pregnancy is also declining, says The Huffington Post, but the state with the highest rates of teen pregnancy is New Mexico. The lowest? New Hampshire. And even though the rate of teen pregnancy is the lowest its been since we started keeping track in the Truman era, it’s still three times higher than other developed nations.
But when it comes to the question of what makes one group of coworkers, relatives or friends tend to conceive at the same time? Not much, but just enough to make it interesting. Here’s what I’ve found.
A 2010 report called Business, Buddies and Babies: Social Ties and Fertility at Work made a connection. “Individuals are on average 10.9% more likely to have their first child 13-24 month after the birth of co-worker’s child.” It’s not just co-workers who can influence your decision to have a baby though, even family members of colleagues can have an effect.
Surprisingly, the study’s authors don’t lean on the idea of women’s cycles syncing up. Instead, they say it’s more about the social connection; seeing your peers getting pregnant (and hearing about it too) encourages many people to move ahead to have babies of their own. It’s actually the power of suggestion. And that’s it.
I’m not entirely sold though. At this point I don’t have a better answer but if I ever do find out that it really IS in the water, especially in that Roman apartment, I won’t be a bit surprised.
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