We’ve all heard the story of the pregnant woman who sends her partner out for pickles and ice cream to sate a late-night craving. But what about the cravings that call into question a woman’s sanity? Pica is the practice of craving non-food substances and affects a minority of pregnant women. Doctors believe it can be triggered by low vitamin levels or even mental illness, but the exact cause is unknown. So next time someone gets on your case for mixing fries with syrup, show them this list of the 7 wildest, but genuine, pregnancy cravings.
1. Wet cement
Without fail, during all four of her pregnancies my mom had to restrain herself from running outside and licking the cement, especially when it was raining. She tells me the smell would drive her wild to the point that she’d sit on a couch in front of the window, staring longingly at the sidewalk in front of our house.
What is it about dirt that has pregnant ladies salivating? Perhaps it’s that iron deficiency acting up? Whatever it is, if you’re craving a nice spoonful of dirt, you’re not alone. My mom constantly had the urge to eat dirt, and pop star Britney Spears divulged that it was one of her biggest pregnancy cravings as well.
While I was pregnant, the building I worked in was being renovated and constantly painted — and it was heaven. The painters started to mock me because every time they were in the midst of a project, there I was, loitering nearby and taking as many deep breaths as I dared. Nonetheless, I wasn’t surprised when a good friend confessed she wanted to drink paint while pregnant (she didn’t).
If you’d like to bite down on a piece chalk, join the club. A survey from a popular parenting website in the UK questioned more than 2,000 women, and chalk made the top ten list of pregnancy cravings. Talc powder is another similar and common crazy craving. My advice: if you’re jonesing for a bite of chalk, stick with Tums. You’ll get that chalky substance you’re longing for with a healthy dose of calcium, doctor approved!
Some women long for nothing more than to cuddle up with their husband on the couch with a nice bowl of … charcoal? Yep. And it’s not just charcoal they crave, but licking matches too! My advice: get the charcoal and the matches and barbecue some of your favorite foods to take your mind off the craving.
6. Cigarette ashes
Google around a bit and you’ll find the Internet is filled with women admitting the desire to snack on cigarette ashes. Even women who aren’t smokers! Yikes! Can you imagine? Your brain says no, no, no while your body says yes, yes, yes! Don’t worry about keeping this desire a secret — according to the American Pregnancy Association, cigarette ashes are one of the most common Pica cravings.
7. Laundry detergent
Nibbling on a spoonful of powdered laundry detergent is another common, yet bizarre pregnancy craving. As this mom blogger says: “when I was pregnant, I couldn’t walk past a laundry room without wanting to crunch on powdered Tide, liquid Downy and all manner of cleaning product, especially Mr. Clean.” Clean, but not healthy. Put the spoon down and back away from the laundry detergent, mama!