Pregnancy Cravings: What Do I Need to Know?
One of the many joys of being pregnant is the cravings. If you’re lucky, you could be fantasising about your favourite meals, if you’re less so, you could be scraping the bottom of that pickled onion jar when you couldn’t stand them before. Either way, we thought we’d take a look at pregnancy cravings and understand what they’re all about…
Pregnancy Cravings: Understanding the basics
Let’s look at what causes pregnancy cravings – with so many changes going on inside your body, it can help to understand what’s behind them.
What are pregnancy cravings?
Pregnancy cravings are the sensation of developing an appetite for specific foods while pregnant. Sometimes those cravings are for foods you already enjoy whereas sometimes they can be a hankering for foods you don’t like, or weird combinations of food.
Are they a real thing?
They are a real thing and are experienced by many people who are going through pregnancy. They are causes by changes to your body and hormones, as well as external factors like seeing or smelling certain foods. Some research suggests that there may also be psychological reasons for experiencing cravings.
Do your cravings change during pregnancy?
Some people experience very specific and set cravings for certain foods, whereas others experience them in waves, fancying different foods at different times.
When do pregnancy cravings start
Most commonly, cravings start very early in pregnancy, during the first trimester. However, not everyone experiences them in the same way. Some have cravings which start later, while others don’t experience them at all.
When do they stop?
If cravings start during the first trimester, usually they get stronger during the second trimester and then tend to ease off during the third.
Do cravings mean anything?
Some doctors believe that cravings are a sign of your body needing more of certain nutrients or vitamins or a sign that you’re deficient in certain foods but there isn’t much to support any specific cause. It is equally possible to experience them if you’re dehydrated, tired or stressed.
Are cravings worse with twins or multiples?
Many people who are pregnant with twins or multiples have reported feeding more intense cravings during pregnancy. However, it is also possible that other feelings like nausea are more intense, and therefore make cravings less likely.
What are popular pregnancy cravings?
Everyone experiences different cravings but often they concern foods that have very distinct flavours, such as food that is:
What happens if you don’t get pregnancy cravings?
While cravings are common, it is equally possible that you won’t experience any sort of cravings. If you have strong morning sickness, then you might find that your appetite is generally lower. As long as you’re managing to eat a balanced diet, there is no issue with not experiencing cravings.
Can you experience cravings for non-foods?
Yes, this can happen but is uncommon. Craving non-edible things is called ‘pica’. It can be caused by numerous physical or mental conditions. If you experience these, then it is worth consulting your doctor or midwife.
How to Deal with Pregnancy Cravings
Now we know a little more about what causes cravings and how you experience them, we can look at what you can do to keep them at bay.
It’s important to eat regularly during pregnancy – meals and snacks - as this will help you to keep your strength up and make sure you’re getting the vital ingredients you need. If you’re experiencing cravings, then sticking to a regular eating pattern (i.e. every three hours) it should help to keep your cravings under control.
Get lots of sleep
Sleep is incredibly important during pregnancy, and one of those reasons is that it can help you to regulate the changes to your hormones. This will help to reduce the intensity of cravings.
Drink more water
Drinking lots of water is a great way to keep your appetite at bay and that is true during pregnancy. By drinking water, you can keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration can be a cause of experiencing cravings.
Eating regularly is important, but eating the right things is also essential. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet as this will ensure you’re taking in all the vitamins you need and should hopefully help your body to stop hankering after specific foods, as it should be catered to.
Give into them
For the most part, there’s nothing wrong with giving into your cravings. Depending on what it is you’re craving, and how often the feeling comes over you, there’s nothing wrong with giving into a piece of cake or bag of chips. As long as you’re balancing it out with other foods that are good for you.
If you crave foods you’re not supposed to have, should you eat them?
No, even if you’re craving specific foods that you should avoid during pregnancy, do not give in to these cravings. These foods could be harmful to you or baby so you should avoid them until after your pregnancy. Where possible try to find safe but similar options.
And that’s cravings! Depending on where you are in your journey, you could be flooded with the urge to eat everything or you could be queasy at the thought of food (ah, it’s all fun). We hope this guide has helped you get to grips with why your body is feeling this way, and help it seem a little less out of your control.