Pica In Pregnancy – Causes, Complications & Remedies

Pica In Pregnancy - Causes, Complications & Remedies

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Commonly, pregnancy has a lot of challenges that you need to overcome. One of the most common ones is the fight against cravings. As your body changes, so do your hormones, and this can lead to extreme cravings which are not always healthy. Overeating can be a challenge but so can a condition where unusual cravings bother you, this condition is called Pica.

What Is Pica?

Pica is a prevalent condition during pregnancy where you feel like eating non-food items. These include dirt, clay, coal, wood chips and steel.

Craving chalk

These cravings can be hard to fight against but are known to be indicators of a deficiency of vitamins or minerals in your body. It is more commonly known to manifest in young children between the ages of 6 months to 11 years old. These cravings affect up to 30% of children; it is considered normal for pregnant women to have such cravings as well.

Causes of Pica During Pregnancy

While the exact causes of pica in women who are pregnant are unknown, it is assumed by doctors that this is a natural way of your body telling you that you need vitamins, minerals or other nutrients. Doctors also assume that unnatural cravings in pregnant women could be an indicator of an underlying physical condition or a form of mental illness that is triggered due to hormones.

Causes of pica in pregnancy

Most Common Pregnancy and Pica Cravings

Pica can lead to numerous cravings, some of the most common ones are:

  • Dirt
  • Soap
  • Sand
  • Clay
  • Faeces
  • Paper
  • Hair
  • Toothpaste
  • Plastic
  • Wood Chips
  • Nails
  • Porcelain
  • Coal
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Kids Plaster

Craving for paper - pica

Pica can cause cravings that are specific to you when you get the uncontrollable urge to eat something that isn’t purely edible, talk to your primary care physician.

Will It Affect Your Baby?

Pica can affect your baby if you give into your cravings. Eating anything non-edible is considered harmful as this can lead to malnutrition because of issues with nutrition-absorption in your body. The urges can also be for items like plastic or paint which have toxic properties. It can be extremely harmful to both your baby and you.

Complications in Pica

Pica can lead to food absorption disabilities that eventually lead to malnutrition; it also can lead to infections due to the consumption of non-edible items that are hard to digest, in the case of glass or wood chips it could cut you throughout your digestive tract and lead to internal bleeding. The complications are specific to the cravings you have. It is essential that you understand what the cravings you have are and what risks are associated with them.

Dealing With Pica Cravings

It is most important not to panic, as pica is considered a typical craving. It can be managed and usually goes away after a short spell. Here are a few important things to note while dealing with it:

  • Have an open and honest conversation with your doctor. Tell them about your cravings no matter how unnatural or embarrassing they seem to you.
  • Inform your caregivers, and ensure they are aware of the risks and ramifications of giving into your urges. Having loved ones help you will make fighting the urge easier.
  • Ask your doctor if there is a need to review your prenatal records, and perform the required tests.
  • Monitor your nutritional levels, and keep an eye on your vitamin and mineral counts.
  • Monitor your iron and zinc intake, and keep an eye on your body’s magnesium. Take supplements regularly if they are low.
  • Distract yourself, watch TV or do something productive to keep your mind off the urges.
  • Try using substitutes like chewing gum or sugarless candy.

Pica is a very common condition which can have dire consequences; it is highly recommended that you talk to your doctors and begin managing it till the urges go away. Seek out a counsellor to ensure the condition isn’t due to an underlying psychological condition. Always remember to keep your loved ones informed of the status of your condition, and keep communicating as talking about it can help. Remember, the most important thing is not to panic and to follow your doctor’s advice.

Also Read: 25 Surprising & Interesting Pregnancy Facts