Everyone knows that pregnant women have strong cravings. Sometimes, these cravings may be rather strange, and may not even involve something edible. Still, a desire for ice is one of the most common things pregnant women say they want. Even though ice doesn’t taste or smell like anything, this is a very common thing to happen. So rest assured if you feel a temptation to sit and chew on the ice during your pregnancy.
A Word About Pica
It’s not strange to know that pregnant women often want to chew on ice, even though it seems strange. Pregnancy can cause strange cravings, and cravings for ice is not unheard of. Research shows that one in five pregnant women enjoy eating ice cubes during their pregnancy. A craving such as that for ice, where a person craves a certain food that provides no nutritional value, is called a “pica.”
Though ice is relatively safe, developing a pica during pregnancy could be a sign of a larger deficiency of iron, or perhaps even an indication of an eating disorder. This is something that needs to be looked at right away by your doctor because it could affect both you and your baby.
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Is It Safe To Consume Ice When Pregnant?
Ice is a relatively safe craving to experience during pregnancy. Though it poses no drastic threat to your health or that of your baby, it may yet end up harming you if you consume too much. As you can imagine, having too much ice can affect the health of your teeth, causing damage and increasing sensitivity. It can also give you a sore throat. So, you shouldn’t eat too much ice and should stick to a healthy limit.
Is Ice Craving Common During Pregnancy?
Though not technically a “food”, ice is not at all an uncommon craving among pregnant women. Yet, though there have been several attempts to study the nutritional, physiological, and cultural causes of such a craving, we do not know why such a craving may occur. Despite the numerous theories regarding the matter, the precise reasons still largely remain unknown. That being said, such a craving for ice is still being liked to low hemoglobin levels, mineral deficiencies, eating disorders, and so on, and consuming it in excess can cause dental problems and a sore throat, as mentioned earlier.
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Are Ice Cravings Safe During Pregnancy?
Though there are several things that pregnant women ought to stay away from, ice is not necessarily one of them. For the most part, chewing ice is essentially harmless, and is therefore of no immediate concern. That being said since a craving for ice is often tied to underlying deficiencies, it is still strongly advised that you consult your physician, especially if the cravings expand to more non-food items.
You must maintain a healthy, balanced diet during your pregnancy, and ice cannot be a substitute for that. In addition to that, consuming too much ice can also have negative effects on you, especially with regard to your dental health.
Are Ice Cravings A Sign Of Pregnancy?
Though ice cravings are common among pregnant women, they need not always indicate pregnancy. Particularly the first time, these cravings may not entirely be understood. However, anyone pregnant for the second or third time may see it as an indication. That being said, it is not a reliable way of determining a pregnancy, and it is better to stick to more reliable methods such as a store-bought pregnancy test.
What Makes Pregnant Women Crave Ice?
‘Pagophagia’ refers to the craving to chew on ice. A lot of pregnant women find themselves experiencing some level of pagophagia. Though this can easily be mistaken for thirst, it is more often a consequence of hormonal changes pregnant women may undergo. In addition to that, there may be a number of different causes for craving ice during pregnancy:
Burning Mouth Syndrome
This is a relatively uncommon thing to experience, where you feel a tingling sensation in the mouth. You may also feel a slight burn, pain, and numbness, as well as some pain in your cheeks. Chewing ice can greatly help curb the discomfort caused by burning mouth syndrome. However, if you do end up experiencing this, you must inform your doctor and look into it without fail.
Morning sickness is all too common in pregnant women and is not exactly caused by anything you eat. It is caused by hormonal changes that usually accompany pregnancy. While experiencing morning sickness, women may turn to chewing ice, as it is flavorless and odorless and therefore unlikely to cause nausea or increase their discomfort. Ice can also be a rather effective way to stay hydrated during such times.
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As mentioned earlier, a craving for ice can be an indication of an iron deficiency. In fact, it is usually the cause of ice cravings in pregnant women if the cravings remain consistent. Anemia is rather common among pregnant women due to the increased strain on their bodies. Still, to this day, the connections between anemia and pica remain unclear.
Yet, taking iron supplements has been shown to be able to lower ice cravings and the effects of pica. In any case, it is worth testing yourself for iron deficiency. If diagnosed with an iron deficiency, be sure to consult your dietician and incorporate more iron-rich foods such as meat and leafy vegetables into your diet.
Another common thing an ice craving may indicate is an underlying eating disorder. It is not uncommon for pregnant women to have some kind of eating disorder. However, such a disorder must be tended to as soon as possible, as a lack of nutrition can affect the baby as much as it can affect the mother. Ice can never be a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet consisting of proper nutrients.
Tooth or gum issues
When you have a problem with your teeth or gums, you may end up using ice to ease the pain and discomfort, just like you would use ice cubes to take down the swelling. Such dental problems are not at all uncommon, even during pregnancy. If you do find yourself with such dental problems, do not hesitate in consulting your dentist and getting them treated.
Reduces the heat
Pregnant women may experience a 50% drop in blood level. This, along with an increase in metabolism, can leave them feeling hotter and more fatigued. Hot weather can also have a sizeable effect on you. Ice can help relieve much of the stress caused by heat and also helps quench your thirst. Therefore, heat is also a factor that plays a huge role when it comes to ice cravings.
Heartburn is a common side effect of pregnancy, and as you can probably imagine, it can be quite unpleasant. Pregnant women are more likely to experience heartburn. This is especially important to keep in mind during the third and final month of pregnancy. Fortunately, you can find some much-needed relief by chewing on ice, which is a rather effective method of dealing with them.
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Emotional stress is yet another very common thing to experience for pregnant women. An increased strain on their body and mind is sure to take a toll at some point. This can have a number of negatives for you as well as your baby. However, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to cope with emotional stress by chewing on ice, and it is even proven to be a rather effective coping mechanism.
Are There Any Advantages To Eating Ice During Pregnancy?
Though it holds no nutritional or caloric value, ice can actually have certain benefits if consumed in moderation. For instance, it can actually be a rather effective way to stay hydrated, which is very important during pregnancy.
It can also be an effective way of countering the effects of morning sickness and nausea, which are all too common among pregnant women. In addition to this, they are also a wonderful way to cool off in high temperatures. As a bonus, some people may even freeze cubes of juice or small fruits for a nice treat at the center.
What Are the Dangers Of Too Much Ice During Pregnancy?
Though relatively harmless, consuming ice is not without its risks. As mentioned before, consuming too much ice to satisfy your cravings may end up having certain negative effects on your body. There are certain dangers that you need to be aware of when it comes to consuming ice, even though they are not too dramatic in comparison with other, riskier foods. Some of these are:
1. A tooth problem
Teeth are not made to be able to work on hard food. Therefore, chewing on ice too much can end up damaging your teeth. Hard ice can chip away at your teeth, hurt your enamel, or even damage your gums. In the long run, this can do some permanent harm to your dental health. So, it’s important not to go overboard and keep the amount of ice you eat in check. It is also advised that instead of big, hard chunks, you crush them down and consume them in more manageable quantities.
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Chewing ice can wear down the enamel on your teeth, making them more likely to get cavities. It can also make your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold foods.
2. A sore throat
A sore throat is not at all a rare thing for people to experience. However, if you have incorporated ice into your diet, it can greatly aggravate the effects of a sore throat, especially during pregnancy. As you can imagine, this can be really challenging and lead to a great deal of discomfort. Therefore, it is better to limit the amount of ice you consume.
Choking is a risk that shouldn’t be ignored, even though it doesn’t happen as often as tooth damage or a sore throat. Larger pieces of ice can make it much more likely that you will choke, which is obviously very dangerous whether or not you are pregnant. Again, it is strongly suggested that you eat or drink ice in smaller, easier-to-handle amounts and not too much.
Health hazards associated with excessive ice consumption include electrolyte imbalances and metabolic problems. One person with pagophagia caused by an iron deficiency was hospitalized with severe low sodium levels and seizures1.
How Can Pregnant Women Control Their Ice Cravings?
Though relatively harmless, an ice craving can sometimes get out of hand and do more harm than good. As such, it is important to keep it under control if you feel like the craving is becoming too much. One of the ways you can do this is by removing stress factors from your life and trying to remain calm and composed. You can also look for alternative, healthy foods to keep you satisfied. If the cravings are still too strong, you should talk to your doctor to get a better idea of how to deal with them.
Both chewing and letting ice cubes melt in your mouth cool you. You’ll feel refreshed for longer. Better value. If you can’t resist, try a cooled drink instead of ice. Avoiding ice at restaurants may be beneficial. Since ice machines are hard to clean, you may be avoiding microorganisms that cause illnesses and cavities.
In most cases, satisfying a craving for ice while pregnant won’t cause any harm. Moderate ice consumption provided it is safe, homemade ice, should not put your health at risk. If the urge becomes too much to handle or you worry that it may be a symptom of something more serious, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
No. There is absolutely no evidence stating that a craving for ice can in any way be an indication of the baby’s sex. The only way to be certain of the baby’s gender is to use a more reliable scientific tool, such as an ultrasound scan.
Eating ice may damage your teeth, but it won’t harm your digestive system or other internal organs.