It’s the first thing the rellos told you when your bestie announced she was up the duff (“You’re next!”) But before your eyes glaze over, know this: baby news really is catching.
In a study published in the American Sociological Review, scientists looked at data from 1720 women over a period of 10 years. After conducting a series of interviews, they noticed something pretty curious: among participants who were still tight with their high school mates, there was a strong “contagion” for planned pregnancies.
“Results show that, net of confounding effects, a friend’s childbearing increases an individual’s risk of becoming a parent,” the study’s authors explained. “We found this effect to be short-term and inverse U-shaped: an individual’s risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend’s childbearing, reaches a peak around two years, then decreases.”
Honestly, as strange as it sounds, it does make sense. Ever noticed how clucky you get when holding a pal’s bub?
Funnily enough, pregnancy timing isn’t the only thing friends influence. A 2014 report points out extensive evidence on the correlation between friendships and birth rates, meaning our mates may dictate how many kids we have too.
“Depending on the context, social mechanisms may act for or against having a large number of children,” the researchers said. (Side note: both studies found the contagion thing doesn’t apply to siblings.)
Bottom line? If you feel like your Insta feed is flooded with pregnancy announcements rn, don't think you're imagining it. There really is something in the water.