Ask the Expert

Can You Be Addicted to Pregnancy?

When pregnancy becomes the focus of your life

Photograph by Veer

It's not just in your head. There really is a bumper crop of baby bumps out there, from the famously fertile, like Heidi Klum, who, with her last child, flirted with her fourth set of stretch marks in five years, to the infamous Nadya "Octomom" Suleman, who bore eight babies at once even though she already had six other kids at home that she could barely afford to take care of.

In 2007 alone, American women birthed more than 4.3 million babies—the highest number ever. More than a quarter of those were to women having their third or fourth child, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And despite the infertility freak-out the entire country seems to be currently engaged in, only a small number of these babies—perhaps 100,000—resulted from medical interventions such as in vitro fertilization, says Jamie Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at the NYU School of Medicine.

ON WOMEN'S HEALTH: How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy

That doesn't mean that we're transforming into a nation of Duggars (the Arkansas family with 19 kids) and Novogratzes (the New York City clan of seven kids who are the focus of Bravo reality show "9 by Design")—the average number of children per American family is still hovering right around two.

Still, certain mothers, like 31-year-old Meagan Francis, who is raising her flock of five in Michigan, have big broods because that's what they're used to. "I grew up in a relatively large family and always loved having lots of people around," she says. "So it's natural that I'd try to re-create that experience with my own family."

But it's not always quite so simple, psychologists say. Some women may like that pregnancy feeling a little too much, often driven to rapidly reproduce out of insecurity, a craving for attention or feelings of abandonment by their own parents.

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