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How to Manage Pica Disorder in Pregnancy: Tips to Avoid Unusual Food Cravings

How to Manage Pica Disorder in Pregnancy: Tips to Avoid Unusual Food Cravings

Vital nutrition for pregnant women

Nutrition is very important for pregnant women. It provides sufficient nutrients and vitamins that are very essential for the development of the baby. The nutrients that they get from the foods are highly valuable for the organ development of the growing fetus. However, several cases of cravings during pregnancy occur to most pregnant women because of some psychological factor. These pregnancy cravings are considered irrational activities which has no known cause. This article will discuss the different aspects of pica disorder that can affect the health condition of the baby and how it is being prevented.

Statistics of pica disorder for pregnant women


The term pica is a Latin word which signifies a notorious bird that eats anything. This term is applied to people especially pregnant women who have cravings during pregnancy to food which are non-edible and not nutritious. The most common cases of pica eating disorder affect 25 – 30% of children and 15 – 20% of pregnant women. Some pregnant women crave for

How to Manage Pica Disorder in Pregnancy: Tips to Avoid Unusual Food Cravings
How to Manage Pica Disorder in Pregnancy: Tips to Avoid Unusual Food Cravings

non-healthy foods such as ice, chalk, dirt and other non-edible objects are caused by emotional and psychological concerns. Although this phenomenon occurs in most women across the globe, countries like South Africa, Australia, and Jamaica women experiences it without knowing the exact cause. The prevalence rate in U.S. is undetermined because not all of them are unrecognized. The reason why they are don’t report these manifestations is because of fear from being ridiculed or embarrassed.

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Causes of pica disorder

As a matter of fact, pica eating disorder has no exact cause but the case is related with psychological factor. Based on the current research investigation made by the Journal of American Dietetic Association (JADA), the cases of pica disorder is due to iron deficiency anemia. The iron which is an essential element that is responsible for carrying the oxygenated blood all throughout the vital organs of the mother and her unborn child. Low level of iron can cause serious condition if not properly treated. Another reason is based on mental illnesses. The cravings during pregnancy are brought by the preoccupation of thought caused by intense stress and anxiety which is common during pregnancy. If the stress level is too high for pregnant women, they tend to eat something which is not edible for normal feeding in order for them to relieve the feeling of uneasiness.

Preventing the pica disorder

There are several ways on how to prevent the pica eating disorder. The easiest way to help the pregnant mother is to reinforce proper nutrition education. This involves the exact and appropriate diet for pregnant women. The importance of this reinforcement can help the mother to adjust to cravings during pregnancy. It needs to have proper observation during feeding time which involves other members of the family, especially the husband. Pregnancy cravings are a normal occurrence during pregnancy but what makes it abnormal is when a pregnant mother eats non-edible food to satisfy their

How to Manage Pica Disorder in Pregnancy: Tips to Avoid Unusual Food Cravings
How to Manage Pica Disorder in Pregnancy: Tips to Avoid Unusual Food Cravings

cravings. Another way to prevent pica disorder is to provide efficient health education to pregnant mother about what is pica. Most pregnant mothers failed to recognize this manifestation especially first-time pregnant mothers who is not familiar with the normal activities during the period of gestation. Discussion about what is pica will help them to identify the common factors that can predispose them to unhealthy cravings.

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Discussion about the related causes and effects of this manifestation will enlighten the pregnant mothers. This form of preventive measure will help them to identify the possible complications of eating non-nutritious foods. Diverting their attention from eating non-edible foods can also help their situation.

The most important preventive measure is to provide open communication between the pregnant mother and her husband. Through this, the pregnant women can express her feelings about pregnancy. Ventilating the unexpressed thought can help minimize the chances of pregnancy cravings which are not healthy for them. If stress is the main related factor that causes them to do this activity, then socializing with friends or family members, talking with group forum, and counseling are the best tool to prevent the disorder. Finally, explaining what is pica to other members of the family can also help them to recognize the unhealthy activity of the pregnant mother.

The ideal food for pregnant women

There is a prescribed diet for pregnant women. This regimen is based on the current condition of the women who undergone her first prenatal checkup. The appropriate foods will be determined after the doctors have made their final assessment and evaluation regarding the health condition of the mother and her unborn baby. This includes vital nutrients, vitamins, and other supplementary minerals which helps the mother to cope with the recommended daily allowance for nutrition of pregnant mother.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have made a food pyramid which includes the different groups of food that are essential for the pregnant women. This chart must be observed and practiced by pregnant women with the guidance of the family. It will help them to acquire the necessary nutrients.

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Delores C. West is a compassionate healthcare professional with a focus on women's health and wellness. As a certified nurse-midwife, Delores is dedicated to providing comprehensive care to women throughout their reproductive journey. With a warm and nurturing approach, she empowers her patients to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Delores's expertise in women's health makes her a trusted resource for individuals seeking personalized and compassionate care. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more about her commitment to women's health and wellness.