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Find out the common reasons you might crave ice when you’re pregnant, if ice is a normal pregnancy craving, and if craving ice is anything to worry about.
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From gherkins and ice cream to chocolate sandwiches, lots of women have unusual food cravings when they’re pregnant.
And if you find yourself heading to the freezer for a handful of ice cubes, you’re not alone. A surprisingly large number of women in the Netmums forum say they crave ice during pregnancy.
There are a few different reasons why you might crave ice when you’re pregnant, some are nothing to worry about while others might need a bit more investigation.
Here’s what you need to know:
Common reasons why pregnant women crave ice
1. Iron deficiency anaemia
A common reason for craving ice, whether you’re pregnant or not, is low iron levels.
Low iron levels can cause a condition called iron deficiency anaemia. This means your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen around your body, resulting in a lack of energy.
One small study of people with iron deficiency anaemia found that around 16% had strong ice cravings. Another study found that some anaemia sufferers craved ice because it gave them a mental boost.
Anaemia is common in pregnancy and can be caused by the extra demands on your blood supply and circulation, not eating enough iron or abnormal bleeding.
The NHS says symptoms of anaemia include:
- tiredness and lack of energy
- shortness of breath
- noticeable heartbeats (heart palpitations)
- pale skin
Anaemia in pregnancy can cause complications before and after birth. Luckily it’s usually easily diagnosed and can be treated with iron supplements.
If you suspect you may have anaemia, speak to your midwife or GP.
You can find out more about anaemia in pregnancy here.
Ice cravings during pregnancy could also be caused by a condition known as pica.
Pica is a form of disordered eating where you crave or eat things that aren’t food and have no nutritional value. Common cravings include soil, ice, soap, washing powder and chalk.
Craving and eating ice is a form of pica known as pagophagia.
Anyone can develop pica but it’s particularly common in pregnancy.
While no one’s sure exactly what brings on pica, it’s thought to be caused by psychological reasons or by a nutrient deficiency such as a lack of iron or zinc. Some research also links pica and anaemia.
Pica is thought to be common in pregnancy because the extra demands on your body mean your diet might not fulfil all your nutritional needs.
If you have constant ice cravings and think you may have pica, talk to your GP or midwife to find out what’s causing it.
3. Feeling nauseous
In the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, it’s very common to have feelings of nausea, a heightened sense of smell, and morning sickness, which can occur at any time of day or night.
You might be craving ice because it doesn’t have a taste or smell so is unlikely to make you feel sick when you eat it. You could also be craving ice to replace liquids if you’re dehydrated after vomiting.
According to the NHS, feelings of nausea usually clear up by weeks 16-20 of pregnancy. If they continue or you have severe vomiting, are dehydrated and struggling to keep anything down, speak to your midwife or GP. You may be suffering from a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum – a form of severe, prolonged nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
4. Feeling hot
When you’re pregnant, you’re likely to feel warmer than usual. This is because of hormonal changes and increased blood flow to the skin, which can make your skin feel warm to the touch.
You’re also using up more energy by moving around with a bump, which can make you feel warmer.
If you feel hot during pregnancy, your ice craving could be a way of cooling you down and increasing your fluid intake.
Is it OK to eat ice in pregnancy?
Eating ice in pregnancy is generally safe – although be careful of your teeth. If you’re crunching through lots of ice it can damage your enamel.
If you’re constantly craving or eating ice, though, it’s important to get to the bottom of why. Your cravings could be caused by a condition or nutrient deficiency that needs treatment.
Speak to your midwife or GP for advice if you have persistent cravings for ice.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff is a must-read for all expectant parents. Packed full of advice, is has over 15,000 positive reviews on Amazon! See more details here.
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