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Why do pregnant women experience strange cravings?

Cravings can range from pickles dipped in papaya milkshake to non-food items.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA—October is one of the most popular months for delivering children, and many women will experience strange cravings prior to giving birth to a new child.

Television shows have capitalized on the humor of it. On the popular show I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball craved pickles dipped in papaya milkshake as she waited for the birth of her first child.


Scientists aren’t 100% sure, but they believe those cravings are linked to physical changes, hormonal changes, and the nutritional deficiencies of an expecting mom.

“Scientists have proposed that both physical and hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy contribute to the development of increased appetite and food cravings,” says Elyse Krawtz, Outpatient Dietitian at Northside Hospital.

The hormones in a pregnant woman heighten the sensitivity of her smell and taste. Suddenly, they find themselves hating foods they once loved. That could lead to a craving for a pickle to substitute for the food they no longer want.

Eating for two, or three, or four can make it tough to get all the nutrition you need.

If an expectant mom needs more calcium, she may suddenly crave ice cream.

There are extreme cases where women develop an appetite for non-food items like paper.

“Certain cravings for non-food items is a condition called ‘pica’ and could be related to deficiencies, such as iron deficiency,” says Krawtz. “Individuals who are craving non-food items should let their doctor know.”

If it’s ice cream dipped in papaya milkshake that a woman desires, she and her baby can relax and enjoy.


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