Why Do Pregnant Women Crave Ice Cream?

Spring in London
Creative Commons License photo credit: bortescristian

We’re all familiar with the old stereotype: a frazzled looking husband is wandering through the local 24-hour quickie mart searching for a half gallon of pistachio ice cream and a big jar of kosher dill pickles. Of course, this almost never actually happens; pregnant women do sometimes get cravings, but it’s rare that it’s for ice cream and pickles.

A common symptom of pregnancy

According to some research, food cravings affect as many as 85% of pregnant women. This makes them one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy, second to things such as morning sickness.

For some women, these cravings might just be a fleeting occasional thought. For other women, they can be rather persistent. A pregnant woman may crave the same thing over and over, or she may find that she’s craving a variety of foods.

The cause of cravings

We’re not really sure what it is that can cause a pregnant woman to have cravings when she’s pregnant. There are some experts who posit the theory that these cravings are actually your body’s way of letting you know that you’ve got some sort of a deficiency. For example, if you’re craving ice cream during pregnancy, it may be that your body is low on calcium.

Other theories tie these cravings in to hormonal changes. Just like a woman might have a variety of cravings during her monthly cycle, so she might have certain cravings during pregnancy.

Still others suppose that food cravings during pregnancy have more to do with some sort of unmet emotional need, rather than a physical condition.

When it’s a problem

Cravings during pregnancy are usually no big deal. Sometimes, however a woman may start craving non-food items. This condition, known as “pica,” can be dangerous. Some women have craved harmful things like laundry soap, or dirt. Pica has been tied, for most women, to an iron deficiency; since iron is a key nutrient that your baby needs to grow and develop, it’s no wonder that it may be at the root of this kind of problem.

So, what about you? Have you had any pregnancy cravings?

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