Pregnancy is filled with new experiences, many of them life changing and exciting. Others may not be as thrilling but they too can affect the way we live. Many pregnant women experience cravings. You have probably heard crazy stories of frazzled husbands searching for watermelon in the middle of winter, or women driving many miles to indulge in their favorite treats. Perhaps you have experienced unique cravings yourself.

The truth is our bodies often crave things that we need. If you crave ice cream, it may be because your body needs more calcium. If you find yourself peanut butter, it may be because your body needs more “good” fats or more protein. Don’t discount your cravings as simply being a desire to indulge. Your body just might be telling you something.

If you have really strong cravings, say for liver, you might want to have your iron level tested. It is also a good idea to check with your obstetrician or midwife if your cravings become so extreme that they distract you from other things.

Most important, if you crave something peculiar, tell your healthcare provider. This doesn’t mean every time you get a taste for bologna and butterscotch you should page your doctor, but if you crave things like dirt or other non-edible items, you could be suffering from a condition known as Pica.

In most cases, cravings are harmless and may in fact be helpful. They can be a way for your body to make sure it gets what it needs. Again, however, if you crave anything that could be harmful to you or your baby, make sure you tell you obstetrician or midwife immediately.