Belly up: A beginner’s guide to pregnancy fetishism

In a previous blog on lactophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from lactating women), I briefly mentioned maieusiophilia (sometimes known as cyesolagnia), a sexual paraphilia and/or fetish in which an individual derives sexual pleasure and sexual arousal from particular aspects of human female pregnancy. In the 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr.Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) specifically defines maieusiophilia as gaining sexual arousal from pregnant women and /or female childbirth. However, other sources define maieusiophilia more broadly to include sexual attraction to women who also appear pregnant, attraction to lactation and/or attraction to particular stages of pregnancy from impregnation through to childbirth. For instance, in relation to impregnation, Wikipedia’s article on pregnancy fetishism alleges:

“Impregnation fantasies are characterized by the arousal or gratification from the possibility, consequences or risk of impregnation through unprotected vaginal sex. Impregnation fantasies are often indulged by reading erotic literature and role playing with a partner”.

Like lactophilia (i.e., breast milk fetishism), there are other paraphilias that have very specific sexual referents, such as gravidophilia (which simply refers to a fetish for actually being pregnant oneself). There appears to be a widely held belief that the overwhelming majority of gravidophiles are lesbian but those in the maieusiophile community claim this is simply untrue. As with most types of paraphilia and fetishes, most maieusiophiles are male (typically heterosexual) although there are females of all sexual orientation (heterosexual, bisexual and lesbian).

It has been alleged in various online articles (although I have yet to see the empirical evidence for this) that there are no specific and/or preferred elements within pregnancy fetishism that are common to all maieusiophiles. For instance, it is claimed that some are sexually aroused by pregnant women’s mobility, and/or how they walk or sleep. Others may be sexually aroused by the bodily changes that pregnant women experience. Like many paraphilias and fetishes, conventional sex and/or nudity are often not required for the maiesiophile to become sexually aroused.

Other human conditions that remind the maieusiophiles of pregnancy aspects may also be a turn on (e.g., a woman with a protruding navel, or a fat women with a large abdomen). It is not know if there is any fetishistic crossover between maieusiophilia and those individuals into fat admiration and fat fetishes. One practice that appears to be liked by both maieusiophiles and fat admirers is the act of belly expansion. This refers to the practice of inflating the belly (typically with air or liquid), until the abdomen is distended. For maieusiophiles, this means that non-pregnant females can be made to appear pregnant and serve as a visual focus for individual fetishistic episodes to occur.

Despite the fact that pregnancy is as old as humanity itself, the glamorizing and sexualizing of pregnancy appears to be a more modern day fetish (at least in terms of being talked about). The popularity of maieusiophilia appears to be linked to the rise of the internet and the mass media. One such ‘tipping point’ appears to be when heavily pregnant Hollywood actress Demi Moore appeared naked on the front of Vanity Fare magazine in 1991. The generally positive reaction to the photograph kick-started a market for mothers wanting to be photographed in a pregnant and stylized naked state. As one more recent news story noted:

Pregnancy, in short, has become hipper, more glamorous – sexy even. It sure feels odd to think that way about something as basic as, well, the propagation of the human race. And yet, fueled by an ever-spiraling interest in the lives of our celebrities and a consumer culture always coming up with new luxuries, the very act of reproduction appears to have reinvented itself”.

The most well known online resource for maieusiophilia is the Bastion Works (BW) website run by self-confessed maieusiophile Darren Shields. The remainder of this article uses information from the BW website. All information on BW appears to be written by maieusiophiles for other maieusiophiles, but I have no idea how representative the views on the website are.

The site acknowledges that: “most maieusiophiles find their attraction to be completely inexplicable, making it especially difficult to explain it to outsiders”. However, the types of erotic focus for maieusiophiles is said to include one or more of the following: (i) the shape of the pregnant woman, (ii) the concept of creating life, (iii) pregnancy as a result of a loving relationship, (iv) increased libido during pregnancy, (v) the urge to create offspring, and (vi) the transformation of the body. This latter focus is a sub-set of more general transformation fetishes that have also been psychologically linked to other types of fetishistic communities such as the Furry Fandom and technosexuals. The BW site also makes reference to birth fetishism and argues that it is a ‘sub-fetish’ of maieusiophilia. More specifically:

“Birth fetishists are attracted, usually sexually, to women giving birth. Some enjoy the woman giving birth vaginally, while others enjoy belly bursting or anal birth”

BW notes that the most varied aspect of maieusiophilia is the attraction to different sizes during pregnancy (i.e., some prefer an abdominal bump that is “just showing” whereas others – seemingly the majority of maieusiophiles – prefer “the bigger the better”). For a small minority, the belly is so big that all thoughts are fantasy-based as the source of sexual arousal can become “a belly with a girl attached”. In fact, the BW site claims that some maieusiophiles “have been known to enjoy the concept of stomachs grown to the size of vehicles, buildings, or even planets”. This would seem to indicate that there is a crossover with macrophilia (which I examined in a previous blog).

Despite the increasing awareness of maieusiophilia (and an apparent increase in the number of people who are into it), little is known on the etiology and cause for developing such a fetish. Even among the online maieusiophilia community there appear to be few commonalities between such people. The BW site claims:

“Generally, maieusiophiles found themselves naturally attracted to pregnancy when they became sexually aware during their teens, and did not initially perceive any difference in their own attraction from the norm. It is safe to assume that the cause is not genetic, due to the unlikelihood of the human genome having enough ‘space’ for such a level of detail. Also, most maieusiophiles do not find that they share the fetish with anyone else in their family”

Based on what I have read, I have no idea how prevalent the activity is and nothing is known empirically about the condition. As with many paraphilic behaviours that I examined, this appears to be an another area where academics and/or clinicians should be doing some research.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Bastion Works (2012). Maieusiophilia. Located at:

Gates, K. (1999). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. Juno Books.

MSNBC (2006). Celebrities make pregnancy seem glamorous. April 26. Located at:

Savage, D. (2000). Sexy mamas, kiddie porn. The Stranger, June 29. Located at:

Wikipedia (2012). Pregnancy fetishism. Located at:

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 600 research papers, four books, over 130 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on September 5, 2012, in Case Studies, Compulsion, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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