Each mother has an interesting story to tell of her frenzied pregnancy cravings, be it crying for her favorite candy in the middle of the night or finishing bowls of ice creams in no time. Besides the regular food cravings, some may experience unusual ones like an undying urge for a potful of salt or even munching on ice. While grabbing on trays of ice, pause to think if it is just one of those weird likings that arise when pregnant, hinting towards something more serious.
Is it common to crave ice when pregnant?
On average, one out of every five expectant mothers crave ice chips and cubes or to sip on ice cold water. Though ice cravings can happen in any trimester, it is said to be at their peak during the first and the third.
Is craving ice a sign of pregnancy?
Many women experience an intense desire to eat ice cubes during the early weeks of pregnancy, but it is not as common as to be declared a sign of pregnancy.
What does craving ice during pregnancy mean – Pagophagia
When these normal cravings transform into increased addiction, accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue, sore throat, dizziness, and reduced appetite, it may hint towards pagophagia, a form of the eating disorder pica (an inclination to have inedible substances, devoid of any nutritional value).
According to old wives’ tales, craving ice in pregnancy means you are having a girl, but like all such theories, there is no scientific evidence to back it up.
Why do pregnant women crave ice?
The actual cause behind pagophagia is unknown, though several studies have deduced iron deficiency to possibly responsible for the condition, alongside other nutritional problems. Research shows that ice helps to relieve the pain of inflamed tongue (glossitis), a common symptom of anemia. Another finding even mentioned that anemic patients have an increased affinity for ice as it helps drive away fatigue and stress caused by the condition, increasing their mental alertness.
However, all women with pagophagia may not be anemic, as emotional problems like stress or obsessive compulsory disorder may also be responsible for it.
Is eating ice bad for pregnancy?
Eating ice cubes during pregnancy is not as dangerous as other pica cravings like sand, stones, charcoal, or soap since there is no chance of ingesting toxic substances. However, if it happens because of anemia or any other underlying condition, it should be taken care of at the earliest to prevent any risk to the unborn baby. Tooth decay is also high for those who indulge in chewing ice.
What to do to manage ice cravings when pregnant?
If your fondness for ice exists over months, seek your doctor’s advice. A medical evaluation may be needed to test if you are anemic or suffering from any other underlying condition.
Besides taking iron supplements as prescribed by your doctor, maintaining a healthy diet is also essential. Shellfish, egg, green vegetables, fish, and chicken are some iron-rich foods to include in your food chart.
If depression, stress, anxiety, or other similar factors are responsible for pagophagia, counseling sessions or cognitive behavioral therapy might be beneficial.
If you continue to long for ice chips or cubes even after pregnancy, a medical consultant’s advice is essential to detect the root cause.
Dr. Mashiach has completed his MD at the Sackler School of Medicine, TAU; specialization in gynecology at the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; fellowship in Endoscopy at the Polyclinique de I’Hotel-Dieu, Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont, France.
He is a Senior Physician, Director of the Department of Gynecology, which provides routine and preventative care services to its patients and a full range of gynecological surgical procedures for adequately managing its patients with benign gynecologic disorders.
He offers advanced care in all gynecological subspecialties such as Urogynecology, Colposcopy, Fetal Loss Clinic, and Post Menopausal Clinic.