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To start with the least, PICA during pregnancy is not what you should have, and neither is it common. But if you are craving for some non-food items that indeed are harmful, like mud, dust, paint, etc. you have developed PICA and you require immediate consultation from your doctor. 

Indeed, many harmful effects come handy with PICA most common being toxicity. When you consume nonedible items you should expect some serious consequences and eating such items won’t fail your belief. 

chalk

For instance, you are in your first trimester and all of a sudden, you start craving ice cream! You will have it since it is normal and has no side effect if taken in a precise manner

But all of a sudden while you were washing your hands, you saw soap on the shelf and you had an urge to eat it! Now, the pregnancy cravings are strong but that does not mean you give in to such a craving. 

cheese cubes

Eating soap will not only harm you but your unborn baby as well. Therefore, you decide not to eat soap. But the other day the cravings increase and keep on increasing to a point where you will no longer be able to resist them.

First of all, you made two mistakes here,

  1. Never consulted the doctor when the craving for food started.
  2. You’re still not consulting your doctor. 

So, the only solution is to visit a doctor at the earliest. But what are the things you should know, this article here aims at answering all those questions. 

Study more about pregnancy cravings. Having a sudden urge to eat: Here is all about Food Cravings

Index

  1. What is PICA?
  2. Causes of PICA?
  3. What items do you crave in PICA?
  4. Can it be avoided?
  5. How much risk PICA is for the baby?
  6. Conclusion 
  7. FAQ

What is PICA during Pregnancy ? 

Pica is a psychological disorder characterized by an appetite for substances that are largely non-nutritive, such as ice (pagophagia); hair (trichophagia); paper (xylophagia); drywall or paint; sharp objects (acuphagia); metal (metallophagia); stones (lithophagia) or soil (geophagia); glass (hyalophagia); feces (coprophagia), and chalk.

These substances have little to no nutrition value. 

plant & apple in see-saw

For you, it could be just another urge, but you need to understand that this urge is not worth satisfying. 

For actions to be considered as PICA, they need to be persistent for over one month. But it has to be noted that if you have pica during pregnancy it becomes of utmost importance to visit the doctor as soon as these cravings start. 

Consult one of the best doctors at Gynomart

Not all women have PICA and it is fairly uncommon. But if you are facing the urge for non-food items you need to be careful. 

What causes PICA during Pregnancy?

Well, as with science failing to explain the cause of food cravings, science also fails in explaining the cause of PICA. So, there is no scientific explanation to answer your questions but there indeed is some research work that claims to answer these questions. 

doctor researching

One such research was conducted by the Journal of American Dietetic Association according to which PICA during pregnancy is caused by iron deficiency. Some believe it is due to anemia and others say it is the body’s way of asking for nutrients and minerals it lacks. 

Whatever the case may be, it is of certain truth that no one should ever think of fulfilling the lack of nutrients and minerals through toxic items. 

toxic

At times PICA can also be caused by some underlying physical or mental illness. But this usually isn’t the case with pregnancy cravings. It is a rare chance that your PICA during pregnancy is a result of some physical or mental illness. 

What items do you crave in PICA during Pregnancy?

Well, anything that a person in normal day to day life would never think of eating qualifies for this list. Some of the items that contribute to PICA are:

  • Burnt matches
  • Stones
  • Charcoal
  • Ice 
  • Corn starch
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Sand
  • Plastic
  • Mud
  • Chalk
  • Baking soda
  • Cigarette ashes
  • Paint

The list will never end. So it is for you to decide what to choose when this craving shits you. It is pretty much easy to identify PICA. Just remember, anything non food item that you would never ever eat at any other time, is the sign of pica and you need to be utmost careful.

Can it be avoided?

Well, to your relief PICA is fairly uncommon and not pregnant women witness it. But if you think that you are witnessing the signs of PICA, don’t panic. It is not abnormal and can be avoided. 

Your foremost task is to visit your health care official. He knows the best for you. Can’t reach out to your health care professional? 

Contact the best professionals at Gynomart!

doctor talking to pregnant lady

Another thing that can be done is to look for a substitute. Keep your mouth full of something that is edible and is satisfying you during your pregnancy cravings. Try keeping it sugar-free. Too much sugar is unhealthy.

Ask your friend or husband for help who will then help you avoid nonfood items. 

Another way is to not keep a single non-food item that you’re craving under your reach. In this manner when you crave and you don’t find it you might look for a substitute. 

Know when does the food cravings end. When do cravings stop in pregnancy? Is it the 12th week?

How much risk PICA during Pregnancy is for the baby?

Firstly, we are all aware that PICA can result in intaking something toxic inside the body which can be harmful to both baby and mother. 

a boy

To begin with, the toxicity can indulge and affect the nutrient absorption from healthy food which can result in the deficiency of certain vitamins or minerals. 

Secondly, maximum nonfood items contain toxic or parasitic ingredients which are of serious concern for the baby.  

What to do?

As stated earlier the best decision you can make is to visit a doctor. 

There could be a possibility that you lack iron hence you should get it checked. 

Anemia should also be checked and if there is a lack of iron or you are anemic the doctor shall suggest the best course of action based on your condition. 

Ever wonder what would happen if you do not get pregnancy cravings. Read it to know! What if there are no pregnancy cravings? Is it bad for the baby?

Conclusion:

It could be quite hard to get rid of these cravings but they can be avoided. Usually, PICA is not very common during pregnancy but if you fear you have it, you might want to start taking precautions. 

Asking your husband or your friend for help is a good solution. They can make sure that the nonedible items are off your limits. 

5 colours

Having a dedicated substitute is also a good option. A substitute will help ease the craving.

Take a small healthy meal after an hour or two regularly This will keep your stomach full and cravings will be easier to control.

With that in mind make sure to stay healthy and enjoy the process o pregnancy. PICA is nothing abnormal. It’s just a phase that requires a little more attention and care. 

FAQ

What is PICA?

Pica is a state where you have an urge to eat non-edible items, like chalk, mud, dirt, paint, soap, etc. In pregnant women, they might come during the first trimester and peak during the second and they are harmful to both mother and child. So you should consult a doctor if you face such signs

PICA is due to deficiency of?

According to the Journal of American Dietetic Association, PICA is often caused by a lack of iron in the body. Others claim that it is because of Anemia or lack of other minerals and vitamins. 

Is Pica an eating disorder?

Yes, Pica in an eating disorder where you crave non-food items.

Is PICA dangerous?

Yes, Pica is dangerous. If you do not visit a doctor in time or you fall into the cravings you will be inducing toxicity into your body putting the baby at risk as well. 

Gynomart
Author: Gynomart

I, Abhishek Gupta & Team Lapaas we always strive to share every possible knowledge related to pregnancy, from a top gynecologist in your cities to pregnancy week by week related information we have it all. And we also committed to updating this site with more information in the coming future, so that you can find every possible question's answer related to pregnancy in one place.