Pregnancy cravings; they’re weird, aren’t they? You’ve never actually liked the taste of anchovies but before you know it you HAVE to eat them. In great quantities. With ice cream. Meanwhile, one minute you’d love nothing more than a hot cup of coffee and then – BAM! – the very smell of it makes you feel queasy. So what are pregnancy cravings and aversions all about?
If you have topsy-turvy tastebuds you are not alone. Up to 90% of pregnant women may have a sudden urge for a particular food, they crave it, they simply just can’t get enough of it. Meanwhile up to 60% experience a food aversion, a strong desire to avoid a certain dish, where they suddenly cannot bear a food they used to like. So do not worry, it is perfectly normal to experience either or neither or both of these.
When do pregnancy cravings start?
There is no exact time as to when they might start, it varies with each woman and each pregnancy. You might not even experience any at all. But if you do, it is most likely it’ll be in your first trimester. The cravings typically grow in strength during your second trimester, and then usually stop in your third trimester. However, like I said, everyone is different, so don’t be surprised if they come and go and not follow this pattern.
Food aversions might stop after the first trimester or may continue throughout your pregnancy. Usually aversions will disappear after the baby is born but not always. If it is particularly strong it may stay with you forever! One of my friends went off gravy when she was pregnant and hasn’t been able to eat it since.
Why do we get them?
Well, there is no definitive answer. It is not really known what causes these changes to your taste buds, there may be several factors involved. But it’s highly likely that pregnancy hormones are having an effect, especially early in the pregnancy when your body is swamped with them.
The pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is arguably the cause. This is the hormone that reacts with a pregnancy test. HCG is often thought to be responsible for morning sickness as its levels are highest during the first trimester (when morning sickness is most likely). As morning sickness and food aversions happen pretty much side by side they are thought to be linked.
Also bear in mind that it’s very common during pregnancy for your senses to be generally out of kilter, they may be heightened or dulled. Which means things may taste different and/or smell different to usual. This would easily lead to cravings and aversions.
It could just be that your body is telling you what it needs, if it has a shortage of a particular vitamin or mineral, and is steering you away from what is not good for you and the developing baby. Which would explain not liking the coffee but wouldn’t work with not be able to bear the smell of strawberries!
It’s also thought that perhaps we seek comfort food, foods to make us feel good which will raise our dopamine level that may have gone haywire along with the rest of our hormones.
Should I worry if I don’t get them?
No. Food cravings are incredibly common, but that is not to say that every woman has them. I didn’t: not one craving with any of my three pregnancies. Rest assured, it’s perfectly normal not to have any cravings at all. In fact, without cravings overpowering you, you’re far more likely to make healthy food choices = better for you and better for baby.
What might I crave/ avoid?
Cravings come in all shapes and sizes. The most common pregnancy cravings include fruit, veg, carbs and salty snacks while others crave fatty foods. Friends of mine craved cheese toasties and oranges, and one craved grapes so strongly that the Tesco delivery driver thought she’d made a mistake with her online order… until he saw the bump! Some women get cravings for things they didn’t even like before they were pregnant.
The most common food aversions include spicy food, fried food, eggs, onions, fish, garlic and dairy. It might not just be the taste of these though that pregnant women cannot bear. Remember all of your senses may have gone haywire and a lot of these foods have textures that might also make them unappetising – scrambled eggs can be slimy, for example. Others have strong odours which could overpower a heightened sense of smell. It’s not just the smell of food stuffs though; friends have reported not being able to bear the smell of the fridge or the dishwasher whilst pregnant. Another couldn’t face milk in a hot drink first thing in the morning.
For a few other examples, have a read of these top cravings on the Baby Centre website.
When should I check with my GP?
If you find yourself craving non-food items like toothpaste, ashes, soil or even harmless ice cubes, speak to your midwife or GP. This type of craving is known as pica and may be a sign of nutritional deficiency. Also talk to them if your morning sickness is unbearable and won’t stop. They may be able to prescribe you medication to help relieve the nausea.
Interested in a maternity session?
If you would like to book in for a full maternity session, all the details can be found on my Maternity Photography page.
For more information with regards to newborn studio portraits then check out my newborn photography page which gives you a great insight into how the sessions run.
I look forward to hearing from you xx
Pregnancy Cravings and Aversions, by Samphire Photography