The husband frantically searching his local grocery store at two in the morning to find a jar of kosher dill pickles and walnut fudge ice cream for his pregnant wife is the picture that we often get when we think about pregnancy cravings. While this might not completely be accurate for many women, it is true that pregnancy can result is a variety of cravings.
Food cravings during pregnancy are particularly common. Some research suggest that over 85% of women will experience some sort of food craving or another while they are pregnant. In some cases, these cravings can vary from day to day. For some women during some pregnancies, however, these cravings can be persistent.
Research has not conclusively shown why exactly women have cravings during pregnancy. Some nutritionists suggest that cravings may be your body’s way of letting you know that you are not getting enough of some sort of nutrient or another. A craving for ice cream, for example, might be your body’s way of telling you that you are low on calcium. Other research suggests that cravings during pregnancy may be hormone related, and that many women also have cravings during different stages of their monthly cycle. Other experts suggest that cravings for food of any type represent an unmet emotional, rather than physical, need.
Sometimes women crave things during pregnancy that are not particularly healthy, or even downright harmful. For these women, ice cream is not enough. Some women have reported craving everything from laundry soap to cigarette butts. This condition is known as pica. Pica is a condition in which a person craves non-food items that have no or little nutritional value. Pica has been tied to deficiencies in the body, such as low iron. When the nutritional deficiency is corrected, pica tends to disappear.
So, while cravings can be a sign of pregnancy, they can also be a sign of something else. If you or someone you know is experiencing prolonged cravings or cravings for non-food items with little or no nutritional value, you should contact your health care provider immediately.