Many women while pregnant experience some sort of craving. The cravings can be for things as simple as sweets or veggies. However, these cravings can be for stuff slightly stranger, like mayonnaise and bananas or pickles with ice-cream. But there is another type of craving pregnant women can get, called pica. Only a small percentage of women experience this type. This craving can be for anything that would not be thought of as food, and with no nutrition. Some things craved for are ice, dirt, hair, baking soda, nails, metal pieces, chalk and several other random items. If you have pica, that is just a small sample of what you might crave.
I myself had three pregnancies, cravings with two of them. My first, I craved tuna fish sandwiches with potato chips on top. I did not want any more chips, except for what was on the sandwich. My second pregnancy I did not have cravings, but my third I craved oranges and ice. I remember my doctor asking me with the third one, if I craved stuff that was different, like dirt. I looked at him funny, I never heard of pica. I never mentioned the ice to him, I did not believe that was strange. I knew it could not be harmful. I found out years later that ice was on the craving list for pica. You might be in the same position as me, and not know about pica. If so, this may be of some help to you.
There are different thoughts on what the cause of pica is. Some think that cravings occur when the body is trying to obtain minerals and vitamins, that consumption of normal food did not give. It can possibly be from a underlying mental or physical illness. Some more reasons considered are extreme poverty, neglect or abuse, or possibly had pica as a child. Some of the cases of pica, may be due to culture factors where pica is accepted. Although, the exact reason for developing these cravings is not certain.
While some of these craving may not be harmful to you or the baby, some others are. This is why informing your doctor of these cravings, is extremely important. Many doctors worry that women with pica will not inform them, because of embarrassment or fear. This will only increase any risk to the health of the baby and mother. There is no reason to feel embarrassed about pica. It is not something abnormal, and does happen. Every socioeconomic group and race experience pica. Remember you are not alone, and your doctor already knows about this type of craving.
There can be complications that are associated with pica. One is possible surgery, depending on what was consumed. For instance, metal pieces or nails might have to be removed by surgery. With a pregnant woman, surgery cannot always be an option. In addition, there is a risk that items digested contain parasitic or toxic ingredients. Some other complications can include cramping, constipation, pain, and infections. Malnutrition and even excessive weight gain may occur. Remember these complications are for you and possibly the baby, as well.
Do not panic, there is treatment available for pica. Inform your doctor as soon as you notice any craving that may seem strange. They will check to ensure that no physical complications occurred. The treatment may be simple, and may just require treating nutritional deficiencies. Taking supplements for the deficiencies might eliminate or reduce the cravings. They might refer you to a therapist if no deficiencies are found. A therapist may be of help with finding a possible subconscious or life event issue, triggering the cravings.
Another way to deal with pica would be to find alternatives for the item that you crave. This may be an option if a therapist or supplements are not working. If the craving is so severe that you must lick or eat the item, try to find a food that is similar. Some foods include plain flour, flat bread, nuts, or dried berries.
I know that my doctor was not informed of the ice craving I had, but I was fortunate it was not hazardous to digest. If the craving had been something else, for instance dirt, I could of hurt the baby by not informing him. I would definitely talk to my doctor if these cravings occurred now, since I now know about pica.
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