What really causes Pregnancy Cravings?

Pregnancy cravings

Not a week goes by that you don’t hear about another pregnant celebrity and her pregnancy cravings. Whether its pickles, avocados or waffles, a bizarre or even normal celebrity pregnancy craving is sure to make headlines. But what do we really know about what and why pregnant women crave?

Why aren’t my pregnancy cravings for healthy foods?

Of course, pregnant women are not immune to general cravings.  So the cravings that people experience all the time will continue to occur during pregnancy. If a particular food, drug or behavior is of concern prior to pregnancy, the chances are good that an expectant mom will continue to crave it during pregnancy. Sometimes this is very dangerous, as in the case of some drugs like benzodiazepines or alcohol, where the substance might be toxic to the pregnancy. And sometimes it’s fairly benign, like a particular flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Often the maternal instinct is more powerful than the craving, and even an alcoholic mother may remain abstinent from alcohol during the pregnancy. At other times, the urges are too overwhelming. With behavior addictions and cravings (such as gambling) often the urges will intensify during pregnancy. And eating disorders can be particularly problematic during pregnancy, because the rapid changes in a mother’s body can be very difficult emotionally and can trigger all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions that surround body image and self-esteem.  These can often result in a worsening of bulimic or other self-destructive behaviors during pregnancy.

In general, these cravings can be addressed just like any other. Whether a craving persists at the same level during pregnancy, or intensifies, or the related behaviors are the same but the consequences are greater because of the pregnancy, the basic recommendations in the book to manage cravings can generally be employed. There are exceptions…some of the medications that are used to manage cravings may be unsafe in pregnancy. So it’s important to check with your physician about these medications if you think you might be pregnant.

Source: Psychology Today

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