The caricature of the pregnant woman who makes a 2 AM run for pickles and ice cream is funny because it’s often true. Many women experience cravings during pregnancy, and while it’s not always for pickles and ice cream, it can often be for some strange things.
In most cases, nutritionists believe that a craving for a particular food is a way for your body to tell you that it’s not getting enough of a certain nutrient. If you’re craving milk, it might be that you’re not getting enough calcium.
Other experts disagree. They suggest that any pregnancy-related cravings are more likely the result of hormone changes. This would seem to be supported by the fact that many women experience cravings when they’re not pregnant during various points in their monthly cycle. Some women, for example, might crave chocolate while they’re on their period.
Some of the studies done suggest that around 85 percent of all pregnant women will have a food craving of one kind or another while they’re pregnant. It might be a sour craving (pickles, for example) or it might be a craving for sweets.
The researchers haven’t told us if there is a pattern to the timing of cravings during pregnancy. Some women may have cravings throughout pregnancy, but some women may only experience those cravings during one particular trimester.
There are some cases where a woman craves unhealthy things while she’s pregnant. This condition, known as “pica,” can cause health problems. Some women have craved odd items such as laundry soap and cigarette butts. In the most basic sense, pica is when someone (not necessarily a pregnant woman) craves non-food items that have little or no nutritional value. There have been studies that suggest a definite nutritional deficiency cause for pica, such as having low iron. Obviously, if you’re experiencing these kinds of cravings you should talk to your health care provider.