It's a phenomenon that if a woman, A, spends time around a woman, B, who is either pregnant or has a young baby (B is perhaps a sister, friend), sometimes woman A finds herself with "a desire to have a baby or another baby".

(This trope often features in both serious or comedy shows and films, or indeed, in everyday life.)

In English you usually somewhat humorously refer to this as being "clucky" or "broody" (from the words used with female birds).

(If you're not a native speaker and not familiar with this, you can find endless examples by googling the words, eg https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/pregnancy/66023277/you-know-youre-clucky-or-broody-when )

In short ...

are there really any synonyms or alternatives at all for this phenomenon, other than the two slang-ish ones?

(I've checked all the usual thesauri - the problem is they tend not to include jokey terms like "clucky", and for "broody" you get the unrelated senses.)

Essentially, they are both jokey/informal - so how do you say it in a non-jokey way?

In particular, there has surely been any amount of scientific, psychological / sociological study of this, scholarly articles, so perhaps there's actually a scientific term in use in such papers - which is indeed the ideal thing I'm after.

(I have the usual access to such things, but I know little/nothing about the medical field so I really have "failed to google it" after hours.)

If we just happen to have someone like Dr. McKay on this list, we should get an answer!


Surely there's some more formal way to describe this?

  • random kind of scientificish web page pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3171469
    – Fattie
    Oct 1, 2021 at 14:29
  • 1
    fantastic link there @KannE , thanks a million. {Just BTW there is also a lot of scientific study on why yawning is contagious - a strangely similar thing. }
    – Fattie
    Oct 2, 2021 at 13:01
  • L O L on that :)
    – Fattie
    Oct 3, 2021 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


I found the term reproductive ambition. You would need to delve into the literature to know how much/quickly it can change because of environmental factors.

Additional questions were asked about maternal personality (importance of having children, self-rated maternal/broodiness), reproductive ambition (ideal number of children, ideal own age at first child) and career orientation (importance of having career). Higher circulating testosterone levels were associated with lower scores on measures of maternal personality and reproductive ambition. D. K. Deadly et al.; "Maternal personality and reproductive ambition in women is associated with salivary testosterone levels", Biological Psychology (2006)

The current study shows that preferences for male faces with masculine shape cues, characteristics that are thought to signal men's underlying health, are positively correlated with partnered, but not unpartnered, women's reported reproductive ambition (i.e., their desire to become pregnant). C. D. Watkins; "Reproductive ambition predicts partnered, but not unpartnered, women's preferences for masculine men", British Journal of Psychology (2012)

Sometimes only the Abstract of a journal article is available for free; other times the entire Full Text is free. If a Full Text exists, there should be a link to it on the page with the Abstract. If there is a pay wall, there may be a rental option that is usually much cheaper than the purchase fee. You may be able to get free access at your work place or an institution, such as a local or medical library. Some sites like www.sciencedirect.com have free registration that gives you access to the Full Text of articles in participating journals.

IMO the best places for this type of research are PubMed and Google Scholar.

  • spectacular find !!
    – Fattie
    Oct 1, 2021 at 19:19
  • i'll read through the papers - they may well include other relevant terms
    – Fattie
    Oct 1, 2021 at 19:20

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