Why recent posts on dooce.com are about to cause a little baby-boom

I had a thought yesterday that might already be part of conventional wisdom, but which I don’t remember having heard elsewhere.

I was thinking about how research has been showing that our behaviors interact with our physiology: that repeated behaviors can influence brain structure and body chemistry, and the changed physiology can in turn reinforce behaviors.  For example, I remember reading an interview with the author of a book about fatherhood, promoting fidelity in marriage and an active parenting role for fathers, and the author said that new research is showing that fathers who take an active role in parenting their children have different body chemistry and brain physiology than before they were married; they become more nurturing and less aggressive.  He argued that this is scientific evidence for how marriage and parenting have a civilizing effect on men.  I’ve also heard of research that shows that people who’ve habitually practiced self control have structures in their brains that are absent in the brains of violent criminals.

So, then I was thinking about the often-observed phenomenon in which formerly infertile couples who adopt a baby become pregnant shortly after the adoption.  The usual explanation is that stress had been interfering with fertility, and adopting a child alleviated the stress.  What I was just wondering, though, is whether the act itself of caring for a baby or young child influences body chemistry and brain physiology in a way that can increase fertility.  (As I said, maybe this theory has already been put forward, but if so, I don’t recall encountering it yet.)

Hazel_16Jul01
Can looking at photos like this one cause pregnancy?

Update:  I think I’d better clarify that, notwithstanding the title of this post and the photo caption, which were both meant tongue-in-cheek, I wasn’t actually meaning to speculate that wanting a baby could make you more fertile–obviously, couples who adopt do so because they do want a baby very much.  I do still wonder whether actually caring for a baby or child on a daily basis might somehow increase fertility, though.

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11 Responses to Why recent posts on dooce.com are about to cause a little baby-boom

  1. Jen says:

    I hope the picture can’t cause that, because I was wanting to wait another year this time. Excellent insights, thanks for sharing!

  2. debbie says:

    We are creatures who copy each other. Sometimes good things (like pregnancies) and sometimes bad.

  3. Mrs. Organic says:

    I think it can nurture feelings of wanting to have children. But for me, the pregnancy isn’t going to happen. She’s adorable!

  4. Erin says:

    I think I will stare at this picture for a while. We have been trying for months to no avail. Let’s see if your little experiment works!

  5. Luckily, adopting three children has not had an effect on my fertility. Birth control may have something to do with that:)

  6. And I will not be studying the picture above for long periods of time. In fact, for those not wanting to get pregnant, maybe there should be a warning to avoid the picture—just kidding.

  7. American Yak says:

    I always thought people got pregnant from kissing.

  8. jrh98409 says:

    I think you’re on to something Zina, and I would be a little surprised if the literature doesn’t already support your hypothesis. However, the more research I perform, the more I want to have a baby.

    Another parallel is how (I’ve been told since my first was born) non-pregnant women can begin lactating at prolonged exposure to hungry-baby sounds. (I suppose we could add Hazel’s picture to those stimuli.)

    To riff on Debbie’s comment, I sometimes think we are not only copy-creatures, but one creature, distributed in various bodies, discrete containers of DNA, as if our navels were the remnants of animate crochet stitches.

  9. OhSusanna says:

    OH MY GOODNESS. I just said that OUT LOUD. On the INTERNET. Zina, please delete as quickly as possible.

    • zstitches says:

      LOL–I was thinking that this made saying your mom was in the shower to whomever’s at the door pale in comparison. Will delete ASAP.

      • UnkieJas says:

        I can’t believe I exercised more discretion on this thread than Sooz! Wow. Maybe I’ll stay off my meds.

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