Question: “My sister just told me that when she was pregnant, she had pica syndrome. What is pica? Should I worry that I may have this too since she did?”
Answer: Pica syndrome means that a pregnant woman gets compulsive and persistent cravings for non-food items, for at least a month. It can include cravings for things like dirt, stones, charcoal, clay, toothpaste, soap, sand, or coffee grounds. Sound crazy? It’s actually pretty common in pregnant women!
No one knows for sure what causes pica syndrome, but many believe it means you need more iron in your diet. If you have an iron deficiency, your body may be trying to get the missing vitamins and minerals by other (creative!) means.
Some suggestions to help you deal with pica include chewing gum, or telling a friend. Your friend’s task is to stop you if you think you’re about to give into a craving. You could text her and then she texts back, reminding you that it’s not worth it to put your baby at risk.
If you’re longing to eat a really weird item like one of those we listed above, make sure to tell your doctor. Pica syndrome can be dangerous because many of the weird cravings would be toxic to eat. Your doctor should check your iron levels and then give you recommendations, such as getting on iron supplements.
Are you having a difficult time affording the co-pay at prenatal checkups? Or maybe you don’t have a way to get to your doctor? Call Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784 to learn about how we can help out.