A woman undergoes a lot of changes when she is pregnant. Besides the physical changes and hormonal fluctuations, many women also experience strong pregnancy cravings. Though the common understanding of pregnancy cravings is food cravings, a pregnant woman can crave non-food items too. Some women may crave toothpaste, chalk, soil, or other non-edible items. These can indicate a vitamin deficiency and requires professional consultation at the earliest.
First, let’s understand why a woman pregnant woman has cravings – sometimes mild and ignorable but sometimes very strong. Pregnancy cravings are those sudden urges a pregnant woman feels towards food or other items she wants to eat. The urge is so strong for some women, that they can’t focus on anything else until the craving is satiated.
No one is very sure about what causes such strong cravings, especially when the cravings keep changing frequently. While most of it could be due to the hormonal fluctuations that affect a pregnant woman's sense of taste and smell, it may not be just that alone.
Confusing? Well, let’s put it this way. Every pregnant woman undergoes hormonal changes and fluctuations, but not all of them experience pregnancy cravings. Thus, one has to consider the possibilities of other factors apart from hormonal changes, to trigger such cravings.
Studies show pregnancy cravings for non-edible items could be a possible vitamin deficiency. Similarly, cravings for edible items could be due to some deficiency or something else too. This is why one can never be too sure about when a pregnant woman will crave what.
Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. One can never be sure about when these cravings start. For some, it can be even before they find out about the pregnancy while some women don’t experience any strong cravings at all.
When you do start craving during pregnancy, it can again differ from what other women crave. You may crave fatty foods in the first trimester and crave sour items in the third trimester. The pregnancy cravings can differ from woman to woman and even from trimester to trimester.
Many women develop both aversions and food cravings in early pregnancy. This is because the hormonal changes make them very sensitive. An increase in sense of smell results in aversions and an increase in sense of taste leads to cravings or changes in food habits. They might suddenly hate even the smell of their favourite food.
Pregnancy cravings differ from woman to woman, just like how pregnancy differs from woman to woman.
Some common pregnancy cravings you might experience or hear about are:
1. Spicy foods
3. Sour food items
4. Salty foods
5. Fatty foods
6. Dairy products
7. Junk items that are rich in flavour
8. Ice creams or anything very cold
9. Crunchy food
10. Certain fruits or vegetables
The pregnancy cravings list does not end here. As mentioned earlier, many women can also have very peculiar or weird cravings. While some could be just the need for the taste or smell of the item, sometimes the strong and odd cravings could indicate some deficiency or an underlying issue.
When these cravings hit, many women are unable to control themselves. Though they know they should not eat certain things, they are unable to control themselves. The cravings can be so strong at times that they can even hinder the pregnant woman’s daily activities or work. It can lead to mood swings, which can in turn impact the baby.
If you do experience pregnancy cravings, how can you control them? It is not possible to satiate cravings right away. Here are a few pointers to help you manage your cravings:
1. Stock Right – Stock on healthy alternatives. For example – if you are craving sweets during pregnancy, you can stock up on naturally sweet foods like fruits or opt for items that do not use processed sugar but uses jaggery instead.
2. Short Intervals – Switch to small meals within short intervals, this way you will constantly fuel your body and won’t feel hungry. Eating this way will also help as your pregnancy progresses and makes it difficult to eat your usual quantity.
3. Avoid Guilt – Giving into your cravings once in a while is nothing to be ashamed of. Stop feeling guilty for doing something that is not fully under your control. Eating a sweet treat or fatty junk once in a while will not harm you or the baby. Just be conscious enough to not let it become a habit.
4. Get Checked – If you are craving non-edible items, it could indicate a vitamin deficiency or some kind of disorder. You need to check with your doctor or midwife immediately.
5. Cook Your Food – For many pregnant women, standing in the kitchen and preparing their food might be very difficult or medically not recommended either. If possible, try preparing your meal – partly or fully. When you put in the effort and are part of the entire process, you tend to eat it rather than resort to junk from the cupboard.
Pregnancy craving is nothing unheard of. Most women experience pregnancy cravings at some point in their pregnancy. While some can be manageable, some can be harmful. Seek help to control such harmful cravings and be gentle with yourself for the harmless cravings. Pregnancy is after all a time to be happy and content in addition to being cautious and healthy as well.
1. When do food cravings start in pregnancy?
Food cravings can start as early as the fifth month itself. It differs from woman to woman and even pregnancy to pregnancy. No one can be very sure of the exact timeline for such cravings.
2. Is craving milk a sign of pregnancy?
Milk is one of the most common cravings pregnant women experience. It may indicate your body wants more calcium to support the growing fetus. However, just because you are craving milk, it does not mean you are definitely pregnant
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