Craving Ice during Pregnancy

Each mother has an interesting story to tell of her frenzied pregnancy cravings, be it crying for her favorite candy in the middle of the night or finishing bowls of ice creams in no time. Besides the regular food cravings, some may even experience unusual ones like an undying urge for a potful of salt or even keep munching on ice. While grabbing on trays of ice, pause to think if it is just one of those weird likings that arise when pregnant, hinting towards something more serious.

Craving Ice during Pregnancy

Is it common to crave for ice when pregnant

A craving to have ice chips and cubes, or to sip on ice cold water occurs in one out of every five expectant mothers on an average [2]. Though ice cravings can happen in any trimester, it is said to be at its peak during the first and the third.

Is craving ice a sign of pregnancy

Many women experience an intense desire for eating ice cubes during the early weeks of pregnancy, but it is not as common as to be declared a sign of pregnancy.

What does craving ice during pregnancy mean – Pagophagia

When these normal cravings transform to an increased addiction, also accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue, sore throat, dizziness and reduced appetite, it may hint towards pagophagia [3], a form of the eating disorder pica (an inclination to have inedible substances, devoid of any nutritional value) [1, 9].

According to old wive’s tales, craving ice in pregnancy means you are having a girl, but like all such theories, there is no scientific evidence to back it up.

Why do pregnant women crave ice

The actual cause behind pagophagia is unknown; though several studies have deduced iron deficiency to be possibly responsible for the condition, alongside other nutritional problems [1, 3]. Research shows that ice helps to relieve the pain of inflamed tongue (glossitis), a common symptom of anemia. Another finding even mentioned that anemic patients have an increased affinity for ice as it helps in driving away fatigue and stress caused by the condition, increasing their mental alertness [6, 7].

However, all women with pagophagia may not be anemic as emotional problems like stress or obsessive compulsory disorder may also be responsible for it [5].

Is eating ice bad for pregnancy

Eating ice cubes during pregnancy is not as dangerous as other pica cravings like sand, stones, charcoal, or soap since there is no chance of ingesting toxic substances. However, if it is happening because of anemia or any other underlying condition, it should be taken care of at the earliest to prevent any risk to the unborn baby. Chances of tooth decay are also high for those who highly indulge in chewing ice. [2]

What to do to manage ice cravings when pregnant

If your fondness for ice exists over months, seek your doctor’s advice. A medical evaluation may be needed to test if you are anemic or suffering from any other underlying condition.

Besides taking iron supplements as prescribed by your doctor [8], maintaining a healthy diet is also essential. Shellfish, egg, green vegetables, fish, and chicken are some of the iron-rich foods to include in your food chart  [2].

If depression, stress, anxiety or other similar factors are responsible for pagophagia, counseling sessions or a cognitive behavioral therapy might be beneficial [3].

If you continue to long for ice chips or cubes even after pregnancy, a medical consultant’s advice is essential to detect the root cause.

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