Pregnancy Cravings – When They Start and What They Mean

pregnancy cravings

Cravings are completely normal during pregnancy, and most women find them rather satisfying. There are no proper theories to explain why women get pregnancy cravings, but gynecologists have linked it to taste buds and body demands. Comfort eating is a term mostly used to explain pregnancy cravings.

It is totally okay to crave starchy carbohydrates, sweets, fast foods, or regular pizza because they can be replaced with healthier alternatives. However, craving for substances like dirt, clay, burnt matches, stones, cornstarch, soap, or ice are termed Pica and are unsafe for consumption. But what really happens when you ingest them? Find out why below.

What Your Body Requires

There is really no theory to explain why women have pregnancy cravings. But sometimes, it is related to the nutritional deficiency of some foods. Other theories explain that cravings are due to a lack of something the body needs and is demanding. Some pregnant women crave salty, sugary, hot, and sour foods like unripe mangoes. A craving for chocolate ice cream could be the body needing more calcium, cholesterol, or carbohydrates, and eggs and cheese craving could lack enough protein in the body. In other words, the body might not need the actual food sweetness instead of the nutritional contents.

Can Cravings During Pregnancy Be Harmful?

Although certain pregnancy cravings may seem weird, they don’t always pose a threat to your baby; not all cravings are dangerous enough to harm you. There are most cases where women start to crave a non-food item (something that isn’t food). This condition is referred to as “Pica.” It is a clause used to describe an occurrence when someone has an enormous urge to consume something that is not edible and should not be eaten because it could harm both the mother and her baby.

Strange things pregnant women find themselves craving include crayons, laundry starch, cigarettes, onions, icing, and tomatoes, or dirt. Obviously, these items are not edible, and some shouldn’t be consumed alone, but there is a profuse and increased urge to eat them. The urge can be really high, causing some women to engage in harmful eating practices by consuming non-food items that can endanger their baby’s health.

How Do Taste Buds Affect Cravings During Pregnancy?

Gynecologists think women’s cravings and how they decode their needs may be closely related to their taste buds. As pregnancy proceeds, hormone levels drastically increase, altering a woman’s sensory nerves. These hormonal changes affect her sense of smell. So they often get disturbed by various flavors, finding them either appealing or offensive. These smells cause food aversion in pregnancy, making them nauseous. Most times, morning sickness, dizziness, and vomiting may be triggered.

What Period Will Pregnancy Craving Begin?

Surprisingly, not all women experience pregnancy cravings. Pregnancy cravings start at different stages in different expectant mothers. Some begin to see these symptoms during their first trimester, which is the initial three months, and then become more pronounced just at the second trimester’s peak, about three days to the third. 

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In the third trimester, some women experience dizziness, constant tiredness, and swollen feet. These cravings can continue till the baby is born, but it is very rare. When cravings become heightened, particular food cravings may extend for days before they subside, and others only happen for just a few minutes, after which she loses her appetite. This may seem strange, but there’s nothing to worry about, just your hormones in motion.

What Are Food Aversions?

Food craving is the exact opposite of Food aversion; it is a feeling women develop when particular food types make them uncomfortable. As the name implies, they simply can’t stand the idea of eating specific types of food. Pregnancy cravings occur at almost the same time as food aversion.

Gynecologists suggest that they may be linked to morning sicknesses, with nausea and vomiting. Many women get an aversion to bacon or any type of meat, especially raw meat: the texture, sight, cooking odors, and smell cause many pregnant women to feel ill. Theories also further explain that women who consume lots of meat are likely to have elevated morning sickness levels.

Specialists suggest that the bacteria in meat could be potentially dangerous to their baby’s health and could make them really sick. When the body produces an aversion to meat, it could be protecting them against any possible risk attached. So it’s important for pregnant women to listen to their bodies to avoid pregnancy complications.

Pica – Things I Should Know

Experts think these unnecessary cravings may be linked to nutritional deficiency like an increased need for iron. But this is still uncertain, as no study proves such suggestions or theory. In some situations, these cravings have a cultural or ethnic constituent. These elements encourage the consumption of harmful non-edibles. Several communities always motivate fulfilling such cravings regardless of if they are food-based or not. Some cultures and traditions even force pregnant women to consume some foods against their will.

What Is So Dangerous About Pica Pregnancy Cravings?

Consumption of dirt or clay in the form of Lead is one of the most dangerous non-edible pregnancy cravings. Developmental changes are usually caused in babies from the consumption of Lead. Some of these include weak motor skills, hearing loss or impaired hearing, or low oral intelligence quotient scores. Exposing babies to Lead in any form makes them develop learning disabilities or Attention deficit disorder.

Consuming dirt or soot can cause poisoning as they are Lead-related products. Continuous intake can result in terrible neurological injury or damage in unborn babies. Appropriately, consulting a medical practitioner for advice should be considered as it may be a result of nutritional deficiency of iron or zinc.

Implications Of Pica Pregnancy Cravings?

The majority of expectant mothers will crave one of these categories: sour, salty, sweet, or spicy foods. From statistics, only about ten percent of pregnant women crave healthy fruits and vegetables. This is the reason why doctors are really concerned about cravings in general, including food-related hankerings.

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Enormous deficiencies are caused when a woman ingests lots of unwholesome foods. It’s advisable to opt for more nutritional substances, as this would benefit the baby’s health. Since most foods associated with pregnancy cravings contain high cholesterol, mothers gain immoderate weight. This rapid increase in weight can result in a long-term health condition for both the baby and mother. Obesity is a common problem in most pregnant women that consume excess junk and unhealthy foods.

There is a high risk of developing preeclampsia, complications diagnosed by continuously increasing blood pressure. Weight gain also poses a greater threat during delivery or labor. The normal amount of body weight women are expected to gain during pregnancy is between twenty-five and thirty-five pounds. Chubby women only require between fifteen and twenty-five pounds gain. Responsible consumption of unhealthy food can help regulate weight gain during pregnancy.

How To Effectively Handle Pregnancy Cravings?

Mothers that are prone to gestational diabetes should withstand the urge to give in to food cravings. More cravings for sugary and sweetened foods during pregnancy can lead to excess weight gain in the early pregnancy stages. Healthy replacement of sugary hankerings should be sourced to avoid health risks. 

What Other Foods Can I Eat When I Get Unhealthy Cravings?

There are many substitutes for sweetened cravings to opt for when it is mostly based on unhealthy food substances. Ditch:

  • Cake for banana bread
  • Sundae toppings for strawberries
  • Cola for lime water
  • Sealed fruits in syrup for fresh juice.
  • A chocolate bar for a frozen fudge
  • Jelly beans for dried nuts
  • Carbonated drinks for skimmed milk
  • Toasted bread for whole grain meals
  • Regular cereal for porridge mixed with fruits
  • Sausages for chicken breast
  • Any chips for a cooked type like boiled potatoes
  • Fruit juice for actual fruits
  • White bread for whole meals
  • Energy drinks for herbal tea.
  • Refined meat for a hot dog

The listed food alternatives would help you satisfy unhealthy food cravings and still supply you and your baby with the required supplement. They would supply what your body demands and help you have a safe delivery.


It’s crucial for women to pay adequate attention to their bodies to identify underlying issues. Consumption of healthy foods containing vitamins and minerals is important because they supply the right nutrients and body requirements for babies to develop properly. 

Pregnant women should avoid eating unhealthy non-edibles that contain Lead, as it can harm a baby’s mental growth and cause neurological conditions or retarded growth. It is also important to get enough rest to ensure your body supplies the necessary energy requirements.

Not all women get pregnancy cravings; it is important to look for healthier alternatives to pica cravings to prevent developmental changes in babies and help them grow normally and under safe conditions… Consult your gynecologists if you get weird cravings for proper medical advice on safer substitutes. Visiting a doctor at different pregnancy stages is important for proper checkups and advice on how to live healthily.

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