Broodiness: The Need to Conceive
Mother Nature just doesn't play fair.
Broodiness refers to feelings of longing and the urge to have a baby. The reasoning behind broodiness is somewhat debated by the scientific community. Many theories suggest that broodiness is the result of changing hormones, suggesting women's bodies are biologically programmed to procreate. This theory is supported by the fact that most women begin to feel broody around the same point in their lives, generally between their early to late 20s, but this can vary depending on the individual. On the other hand not all women experience this at the same age, in fact some women do not experience these feelings at all.
This gives weight to the idea that broodiness is an emotional reaction. That some women simply want a baby, whether this is because they feel like something is missing, want someone to care for or they want someone to love who will love them in return. This theory is supported by the fact the majority of women who do not experience broodiness generally do not want or do not like children. On the contrary, the physical symptoms women describe when broody are unlikely to be caused by emotions alone.
Broodiness in older women is often considered a reaction to aging. A woman's fertility begins to decline rapidly around the age of 35, thus extreme broodiness maybe a subconscious reaction for worries that they may be unable to conceive if they wait much longer. There is a distinct lack in reliable research as to why women experience broodiness. However, whatever the reason, research does strongly support that broodiness is a real and surprisingly common phenomenon.
Women describe broodiness as an overwhelming desire to create a baby. Women can feel that they are not 'whole' or their lives are incomplete without a child, regardless of their circumstances or what they have accomplished in their lives so far. Being broody is generally not a pleasant feeling, as it is associated with feelings of emptiness, longing, and sadness. The desire to bare a child can be so strong that some women have described the sensation as almost physically painful.
Some women experience feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and even depression due to feeling broody. When trawling through the internet I have found many women desperately seeking help on how to combat these feelings. Hundreds if not thousands of women, seeking to alleviate broodiness without actually having a baby. For some of these women these feelings strike when it isn't the right time for a baby, they physically cannot have a baby, or already have the amount of children they want.
Relationships can be affected when experiencing broodiness, not only with significant others but with friends and family members who already have children. This is because being around people who have children or are pregnant can trigger emotions such as jealousy and sadness, which may cause resentment. The best way of coping with these feelings is talking to those around you. By ensuring they understand how you're feeling they maybe able to relate and are less likely to take any bitter feelings personally. They may even appreciate you offering to hold or take care of their little ones if they need a break, making this a win/win situation for all involved.
There are many triggers which may make a woman feel this way. One of the most obvious triggers are hormones. Hormone levels play a big part in how we feel, both physically and emotionally. Thus women are more likely to feel broody whilst ovulating, as this is when they are most fertile. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that fertility is at its peak between 21 and 28 years of age, which is when women are most likely to begin experiencing the need to conceive.
Another common trigger is seeing a baby, whether this is in person or on TV. For me personally the worst trigger is hearing the cries of a newborn, it makes me feel like my heart is crying with them and accompanied by a strange, indescribable twinge or contraction within my womb. There are a lot of women who claim to experience this feeling, none of which describe it as enjoyable.
There are tried and tested ways which may help with feeling broody, although some may not work for everyone. The first and most often suggested tip is to get a new pet, something needy like a puppy. This will give you something to give all your love and attention to and will return them in equal measure. A puppy will need you in a similar sense to a newborn baby, in the way that they will always want your constant attention and affection.
Secondly, if possible, spend time with the young children or babies in your family or your friend's children. This will give you a glimpse into what the reality of parenting is and give a better insight into what you're getting yourself into. Say goodbye to peace and quiet, or a decent nights sleep once your own babies arrive.
Finally, you may want to consider a career in childcare. There are many options which you may want to consider including nursery nurse, childminder, play therapist, early years teacher or pediatric nurse. All of these potential careers would provide you with childcare experience, helping to lessen the yearning for a child of your own, but would also help others. As long as there are children, people will need childcare making this a good option for a lifelong career.