Pica: why your craving dirt and other bizarre non-food items

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craving dirt and other bizarre pica symptoms

Lusting after strange food combos is pretty common in pregnancy. But a small group of us are itching to eat much more bizarre things when we’re pregnant. Dirt sandwich anyone?

Some pregnant women find themselves craving non-food items like dirt, soap and sand – even the urge to suck on mothballs. This strange pregnancy symptom is known as pica, and is thought to be the body’s way of letting you know you’re deficient in something.  Or it could be just another one of the many maternity mysteries.

Craving dirt is just one of many bizarre pica symptoms.

What is pica?

Pica is wanting to consume something that you know isn’t food.  It is actually more common in kids, but it’s also become a bit of a unique pregnancy symptom.

Common Pica Pregnancy Cravings

  • Clay
  • Stones
  • Charcoal
  • Cornstarch
  • Cigarette ashes
  • Dirt
  • Mothballs
  • Burnt matches
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Sand
  • Plaster
  • Coffee grounds
  • Baking soda
  • Laundry powder
  • Sponges

Pica is one of those weird pregnancy symptoms that still has scientists scratching their heads. Some experts think it’s our bodies way of trying to get the minerals or vitamins that we may be lacking – like craving odd things because you need more iron.

In some cases, there can be a more serious cause, including sickness or mental illness – so you should see your doctor if you do find yourself craving an oddity.

Does pica harm the baby?

Eating things that are not food can be bad for your health, and your growing baby. Not only because you’re getting no nutritional value, but some of them can be toxic. That’s why you need to see a medical professional if you are having pica cravings, and especially if you are eating, non-food items.

How long do pica cravings last?

While it may seem like a passing pregnancy symptom, pica can be quite serious and it’s difficult to say how long it will last, the important thing is to seek help. Your doctor can test you for any deficiencies you may have, and refer you to a specialist if need be.

We asked the Mum’s Grapevine community what they craved during their pregnancy and this is what they had to share …

“I knew someone who would eat pink Andrex toilet paper. She even knew by taste if it was a different brand.” – Christine

” I licked pages from books and sniffed books and magazines.” – Jaime

“I know someone who craved mothballs and used to suck on them.” – Hannah

“Eucalyptus oil in both pregnancies (from about 28 weeks). Took all my willpower not to down a bottle, but I ate at least a packet of eucalyptus drops a day!” – Hilary

“Used to crave the air from rubber bath toys and would ultimately suck the air out of them.” – Bree

“I had this weird obsession with the smell of new stationery. I could have seriously spent all day in the stationary room at work.” – Mel

” I ate dirt and sand! Used to dip carrot sticks or strawberries into it and crunch it between my teeth. My husband thought I was nuts. I found out I was low in iron and zinc.” – Jacq

Join the conversation

Head over to our Facebook pregnancy group and read what other mums craved during pregnancy.

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