Kate is a mother of two boys and also manages a nanny business in the Sacramento area of California.
Cultural Beliefs Around Pregnancy Cravings
Besides puking into the nearest potted plant, the telltale sign of pregnancy in movies, television, and pop culture is weird cravings. Across the globe, ideas about gender, personality, and physical appearance based on pregnancy cravings persist.
Italians believe that each time you deny yourself what you're craving the baby will gain an extra birthmark, while Brazilians hold steadfast to the superstition that your baby will end up resembling whatever food you crave if your partner doesn't rush out for it ASAP (if this were true, my eldest would resemble a can of corned beef hash).
And in the Philippines, they believe that no matter what, your baby will, in some fashion, resemble the food that you crave during your pregnancy (both kids would look like a heaping bowl of spicy pad thai, hmmm…)!
While some of these ideas are rooted in years and years of folklore, there’s some truth to cravings signaling something deeper at play than experimenting with crazy food combinations for the thrill of it—pickles and pineapple, anyone? For example, scientists believe that pregnant women who crave non-food items such as dirt may have an iron deficiency called “pica.”
But can pregnancy cravings and other attributes like how high or low you’re carrying your baby tell you what gender your baby will be, whether they'll have food allergies, or what they'll look like?
When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start and Why Do They Happen?
According to WebMD, it's not known exactly why cravings occur but ask most pregnant women and they start pretty early on (within the first trimester) and continue on through until labor.
In my experience, I started off craving pickles and pineapple around week four and while some cravings would taper off, new ones always took their place right up through the whole nine months.
Common Pregnancy Cravings
- Ice cream
- Sour things like pickles, sour gummy worms, and salt and vinegar chips
- Carbs, especially potato chips, lightly salted fries, baked potatoes, and hearty bread
- Pickled peppers
- Spicy curries, chilis, and appetizers—buffalo chicken dip, please!
- Weird food combinations that you would never think to indulge in if you weren't pregnant
- Junk food like Cheetos, Doritos, and pizza rolls
- Juicy fruits like strawberries, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, watermelon, and grapes
- Comfort foods from childhood—for me that was always boxed mac and cheese!
- Ice and super cold beverages like slushies
- Lemonade—the perfect combo of sweet and tart
- Seasonal foods that you remember enjoying once in your life and absolutely must get your hands on. Now.
Could Pregnancy Cravings Have a Secret Meaning?
Can Carrying High Mean You’re Having a Girl and Carrying Low Means You’re Having a Boy?
Visit any BabyCenter birth board and you’ll find that it’s not uncommon to use the way you carry your baby—high for girls, low for boys—and what you crave to determine the sex. The widely held belief suggests that if you are cravings sweets or dairy products (especially milk) throughout your pregnancy, then you’re going to have a girl
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Alternatively, if you crave salty, spicy or sour foods, then it’s supposedly a hint that you’re going to have a boy. Tell that to my sister who ate sodium-filled Taco Bell every day of her pregnancy and ended up having twin girls.
Is there any medically-based truth to these theories? Nah, what you crave and how you carry has no known impact on whether you’re having a boy or girl, but it’s fun to think about while you’re waiting for your little one to arrive.
Do You Really Crave What Your Baby Wants to Eat?
I mean, how else do you explain the sudden urge to eat a pound of bacon when you couldn't stand the sight of it before conceiving? Personally, I have to agree with the masses on this one, even if science doesn't back it up. In my own pregnancies, I craved stuff like ketchup, pineapple, string cheese, mixed berry yogurt, and watermelon—stuff I could really take or leave and that ended up being my kids’ favorite go-to snacks. In my non-expert opinion, this is just further evidence that they aren't your own food cravings at all.
Does Giving in to a Pineapple Craving Cause Labor?
When I was pregnant with both of my kids I ate frozen fruit by the pound. In fact, in my first trimester, it was one of the few things I could hold down—pineapple included. But, search Google and you’ll find post after post about pineapple causing labor. So where does this idea come from and is it true? The theory here is that bromelain, a natural chemical found in the core of pineapple is responsible for bringing on labor but there’s no medical or scientific research to reinforce this theory.
Bottom line? Enjoy that pineapple, especially if it’s one of the few foods you can enjoy right now and if you’re going on 40 weeks and looking to jump-start labor, you might wanna look elsewhere!
If You Love Healthy Food, Does That Mean Your Baby Will Love Healthy Food?
This goes hand in hand with the theory that your baby is the one having the cravings, and not you, and again, there’s no significant research to back this idea up. So, enjoy a variety of foods, from apple slices to eclairs and don’t worry too much about influencing your baby’s taste buds right now.
Can You Cause Food Allergies in Your Baby During Pregnancy?
While doctors have found evidence that introducing certain allergens into your child's diet too early (or too late) can cause food allergies, they have yet to agree on whether or not these allergies can be inherited during a pregnancy in which the mother is eating tons of eggs, peanuts, and other common allergens.
Your best bet here is, once again, to enjoy a variety of foods, follow your OB’s diet recommendations, and then introduce your baby to potential allergens according to the advice of your pediatrician.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Kate Stroud