Why Do Some People Crave Non-Food Items When Pregnant?

Cravings in pregnancy are a common occurrence. In fact, when you tell someone you're pregnant, you'll likely be asked what you're craving many times. According to On Health, the most common pregnancy cravings include things like fruit, ice cream and sweets, pickles, and dairy. While there is no scientific evidence supporting the reason pregnant people crave certain foods, a lot of it is said to be due to changing hormones and societal norms, meaning it is so ingrained in people that pregnancy causes cravings so in turn, they do.

So while we always see pregnant people on television indulging in a large bowl of ice cream on the couch, there are a lot of aspects to pregnancy cravings that aren't portrayed — specifically the one where those expecting crave non-food items. If you find yourself having unusual cravings for things like ice or even soap, you may be suffering from something called pica and surprisingly, this is not an uncommon occurrence during pregnancy.

If you crave non-food items during pregnancy, you may have pica

According to Healthline, if you crave non-food items during pregnancy, you may be suffering from an eating disorder called pica. Anyone can suffer from this, but it is a lot more common when you become pregnant. People with pica may have sudden odd cravings for things like ice, paper, dirt, clay, glue, uncooked grains, pebbles, or baby powder. This isn't to say that this is all they eat — your diet will likely remain normal, with the addition of these weird cravings.

While pica is rarely talked about in mainstream media, it is actually quite common. According to Baby Center, 27 to 68% of people may experience pica during their pregnancy. So what causes those expecting to have such weird cravings? Many believe it occurs when the body is missing vital nutrients, specifically vitamins and minerals. It has also been linked to an iron-deficiency. In both cases, the body is searching for ways to get these nutrients, even through non-food items. But while pica is common, is it something you should be concerned about during pregnancy?

What to expect if you are diagnosed with pica during pregnancy

If you find yourself craving non-food items during your pregnancy, don't panic. According to the American Pregnancy Association, eating these non-food items can be a concern to you and your baby as many of them may contain toxic ingredients and are hard for the body to absorb. But, the cravings are common and as long as you let your doctor know of your unusual eating habits (according to Healthline, even a simple craving of ice is cause for concern), they can help you get it under control.

Your doctor may order blood tests to see if you have any vitamin or nutrient deficiencies. While there is no specific test to determine if you have pica, your doctor will likely have you switch prenatal vitamins and focus on a balanced diet. If the problem continues, they may recommend you work with a nutritionist to get your diet on track. Fortunately, most cases of pica in pregnancy resolve as soon as the baby is born without any intervention.