Whenever you hear of strange pregnancy cravings, you normally hear of weird combinations like the classic one, pickles and ice cream. Or sometimes you hear of strange pregnancy cravings having to do with eating a certain food in the middle of the night each and every night during any pregnancy. However, there is one very odd craving that many pregnant women have and that is by eating non-edible items and substances. The term for that type of craving is pica. Pica comes from the Latin origin, magpie because magpies literally eat anything whether it is edible or not. And this is something you hear of children doing or those who have profound disabilities as well. However, many pregnant women have pica cravings and the exact cause is unknown. But it is believed that these pregnant moms are either severely deficient in iron or are not receiving the right amount of nutrients in food. It can also have something to do with an underlying physical or mental condition as well as playing a part. And the most common pica cravings that pregnant women have had are burnt cigarettes, laundry starch, clay, dirt, stones, baking soda, sand, plaster, and even soap. Additionally, pregnant women craving for cornstarch and ice is considered pica as well but many people eat ice and technically it is quite fine to crave ice. After all, ice turns into water which is what is needed regardless since hydration is important. Especially during pregnancy.
Is Pica Harmful To The Unborn Baby
The answer to that is it really depends on what is in the substance that the pregnant woman is craving. If it is cornstarch or ice, then definitely not. However, when it comes to soap, even baking soda, laundry starch or burnt cigarettes or ashes, then yes those substances will contain toxins. And those toxins most definitely can cross the placenta. This is where pica can be quite problematic. Not only are these substances dangerous for the baby but they are also dangerous for the mother’s health. Not only do some of the substances contain toxins but they may even contain parasites which will be harmful to the baby due to the fact that important nutrients are being depleted from the growing baby that needs them to develop. And if you are pregnant and you are having symptoms of pica, or if you know someone who is, don’t panic, because there are ways to manage this odd condition.
How Can Pica In Pregnancy Be Managed?
The first thing to do is to inform your healthcare provider if you are the one who is pregnant and experiencing symptoms of pica. Or if you have a loved one or a friend who is, then you encourage her to do the same. What will need to be done is to have the iron count closely monitored and to keep tabs on the intake of vitamins and minerals. And if all of that checks out and there are still cravings of pica, then it is quite safe to stick to sugarless gum as that will not cause any harm. Even with the sugar substitute in the gum will not be enough to cause any harm to the baby as it will only be absorbed in trace amounts since gum is not digestible.
However, regular gum with sugar is never a good idea to use for a substitute because of the high sugar consumption which can lead to other complications such as too much weight gain during pregnancy or even gestational diabetes. Again it is also quite safe to munch on ice as that is only water which is what is needed anyway for staying hydrated. However, if you are pregnant and you have pica, don’t be embarrassed about it. It is a condition that can happen and it is important that you not only inform your OBGYN or your midwife – but he sure to tell a friend or a trusted family member who can keep you on track so you don’t start eating substances that are not edible and can potentially be harmful to you and your unborn baby. And perhaps your care provider can give you other ideas for safe substitutes as well if you are not able to handle sugarless gum or you are not crazy about munching on ice. It is important either way to speak up if you are experiencing these symptoms because you are not alone. Additionally, it is important that you do speak up as well because of the fact that pica may make you feel quite isolated.