Pregnancy Cravings Unveiled: What Causes Them?


Pickles dipped in Nutella or ice cream with olives? Ever wondered about those fascinating yet bizarre pregnancy cravings? Let’s dive into the mystery and what causes them!

Pregnancy cravings are a well-known phenomenon, with expectant mothers often experiencing intense hankerings for specific and sometimes unusual foods.

While these cravings are a common aspect of pregnancy, their underlying causes remain somewhat enigmatic. Obstetricians and gynecologists (ob-gyns) weigh in on this intriguing aspect of pregnancy.

The Most Common Foods Pregnant People Crave

Dr. Tiffany Pham, a medical adviser at the women’s health app Flo, identifies five primary food groups that pregnant individuals typically crave: sweets, carbs, animal protein, fruit, and dairy.

While TikTok may introduce unique combinations like candied pickles and banana with ketchup, these cravings generally align with these categories.

However, Dr. Pham emphasizes the importance of monitoring salt intake, especially with cravings like pickles, as excessive salt can lead to health risks during pregnancy.

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Typically Emerge?

Cravings can strike at any time during pregnancy but are most prominent in the early stages. Dr. Pham notes that they often begin at the end of the first trimester, with some women experiencing cravings as early as five weeks into pregnancy.

Cravings may evolve throughout pregnancy, becoming less intense in the third trimester and eventually subsiding after childbirth.

Why the Specific Food Desires?

Ob-gyn Dr. Cheruba Prabakar suggests several theories to explain pregnancy cravings. Some attribute these cravings to changes in taste buds driven by surging pregnancy hormones, while others speculate that cravings may reflect the body’s need for specific nutrients.

For instance, a woman low in iron might crave red meat. However, Dr. Pham offers a contrasting view, suggesting that cravings are most prominent when fetal growth is at its peak, indicating a need for nutritional foods. Surprisingly, sweets and carbs tend to dominate these cravings.

The Psychological and Cultural Factors

Another theory behind pregnancy cravings involves emotional and cultural factors. Research from the University of Albany suggests that cravings may have a psychological dimension, possibly influenced by societal expectations to eat more during pregnancy.

Dr. Prabakar acknowledges that there’s no single, definitive explanation for these cravings, and they could stem from a combination of factors.

It’s important to note that not every pregnant individual experiences cravings. Dr. Prabakar points out that the prevalence of cravings varies, with estimates ranging from 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women reporting them.

Each pregnancy journey is unique, and hormonal fluctuations can affect individuals differently. Until further research sheds more light on the subject, it remains a fascinating and somewhat enigmatic aspect of pregnancy that requires individualized understanding and care.

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