Bun In The Oven Cravings: When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

To Crave or not to crave! Do pregnant women have a choice with cravings?

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Motherhood is a delight and a chore. Before the baby bump shows up, the lady becomes the mother- sleeping, drinking, and eating for two. The physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes are many when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood. Motherhood is a part of the natural mechanism inbuilt in a woman to bring forth a child, which is fundamental to the existence of the world. Nature sets the bed for the child inside and with the umbilical chord-the child and the mother is bound thus! 

With all the goodies nature showers upon the mother-to-be, cravings are universal in the stories of pregnancy. But when do pregnancy cravings start? When you get pregnant, you develop a panache for things you never liked before. Here come certain foods which may bring out the gag instinct for some and salivary tickling for others. Every woman is unique in her own way. Some start to have pregnancy cravings for salty food, while some may want to try out spicy dishes they never would have wanted to eat. The food turned on during pregnancy is a topic that is like a bottomless pit. 

A strong urge to eat a specific type of food that you cannot resist is something we all have experienced in our lives. This is what is called a food craving. Pregnancy is notorious for creating those cravings in women.  

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

There is no specific time that can be pointed out as a starting point for pregnancy cravings. Pregnancy cravings can start at any time during the time one is pregnant. Usually, the pregnancy cravings start at the end of the first trimester and gain momentum during the second trimester. It will slow down and become less towards the third trimester and will vanish with childbirth. You can also check out the list of foods to be included during the first trimester of pregnancy.

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

So when do pregnancy cravings start? Pregnancy cravings are universal–everyone at different points in their pregnancy has it. It is just that there is no common starting point for all! It is also to be noted that the morning sickness present in many women who are in the family way, does not have any connection with the start of pregnancy cravings. Pregnancy cravings will start whether you have morning sickness or not. 

What Do Early Pregnancy Cravings Feel Like? 

You will develop a very strong liking for certain types of food. It may be foods that you did not even consider having before you got pregnant. If it is a healthy craving, do indulge in it in moderation. Like if you have a craving for salty food, indulge in it with care, as too much salt may cause edema, a common companion of pregnancy, especially towards the last trimesters.

But if you start craving alcohol, it is linked to fetal alcohol syndrome, which can have adverse effects on the development of your baby. Make sure you contact your healthcare provider if you develop unhealthy cravings for non-food items like paper, ashes, paint chips, etc.  This may indicate pica(1). Resist the temptation to indulge in them and contact your doc if they feel irresistible. 

The Reasons Behind Pregnancy Cravings  

The reasons for pregnancy cravings to start are still a mystery. There are not many researches that were done to ascertain the exact reason for the cravings during pregnancy. There are many theories floating around. One theory is that the increasing nutritional needs and nutritional deficiencies of the mother with the child show up as cravings for certain foods. Just as the body is aware of the contents in meat that are harmful to the baby and develops an aversion towards meat, the body will sense its nutritional wants and develop cravings accordingly.

The Reasons Behind Pregnancy Cravings  

Another theory associated with ‘when do pregnancy cravings start?’ is hormonal fluctuations. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can cast an impact on the sensory functions of taste and smell, bringing about food cravings. Some others go with the comfort food theory. Women tend to develop cravings for foods they ate during their childhood because they associate comfort and love with those types of food. When they experience nausea, they will crave foods that they used to eat when they are not keeping well.

Another theory associated with the reasons for pregnancy cravings is the cultural theory. They say that the culture we grew up in can color our pregnancy cravings. This is very much akin to our PMS cravings, where we crave the foods that depend on the culture we were brought up in, for example, the Japanese crave rice and the Indians crave hot beverages. 

What Are The Common Pregnancy Cravings? 

When do pregnancy cravings start? A study suggests that cravings for the Savoury are the strongest in the first trimester while it is for sweets in the second trimester and cravings for salty foods take over the last trimester. 

Just as much as the reasons for pregnancy cravings are ambiguous, pinpointing of the types of cravings is also difficult. A study points out that common pregnancy cravings are for carbs, animal proteins, sweets, and fruits.  

  • Sweet cravings: Cravings for chocolate and candies are found to be the two most commonly craved sweets when you have sweet cravings during pregnancy. Here, one should be warned that having too many sweets is unhealthy. Taking way too many sweets can lead to gestational diabetes and weight gain, which are problematic in themselves. You should consider healthier alternatives like fruits or swap milk chocolates with dark chocolates, which are rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, to go through pregnancy the healthy way. 
  • Fruit Cravings: Wow! Healthy craving indeed. You just need to get hold of the bowl of grapes or an apple if you feel like indulging in your craving. Fruits are great for digestive health as well as for bringing essential vitamins and nutrients into the body. 
  • Carbohydrate Cravings: If you have a craving for carbs like bread, cereal, pizza, or burgers- your cravings will have a long long list! In such an instance, try to opt for whole grains that will contain fiber and vitamins. Fibre keeps you feel satiated and is great for your gut health, given that constipation is a regular feature in the second trimester for many. 
  • Junk Food Cravings: A study in the United States points to pizza and chips as the most commonly craved junk foods. You could opt for cauliflower crust pizza or pizza with less mozzarella, which you could compensate for with sprinkling parmesan cheese which is richer in flavor, hence needing less of it. You could also go for homemade versions of junk food, like fries!  
What Are The Common Pregnancy Cravings? 
  • Diary Cravings: Craving for milk and milk products is indeed a healthy craving. Milk is one item that falls in the category of a balanced diet. Milk helps keep our bones and teeth strong by providing us with enough calcium that will ensure the health of our nails, teeth, and bones. In such instances, It is advised to use pasteurized milk and avoid any dairy product made out of unpasteurized milk, as you could risk infection from listeria. 
  • Spicy Food Cravings: If you want to order the spiciest dish, you are having craving for spicy food. This should not matter, unless you have heart burns or stomach issues, as spicy food is known to aggravate these issues, especially in pregnant women.
  • Cravings For Pickles: According to the article ‘when do pregnancy Cravings Start?’ Pickle craving is a very common craving among pregnant women. Preggies do crave mouth-watering mango pickles. This would not be okay if the pickles are homemade and do not contain much salt. Who are we kidding? The base of the art of pickling itself is salt! Pickles that are really hot can cause heartburn and the salt in the pickles can bring about water retention, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia. These health issues are to be avoided for having a healthy baby and having a hassle-free delivery. 
  • Cold Cravings During Pregnancy: It is natural to have cold cravings during pregnancy, especially because of the heat created in the body. Eating ice cream and popsicles that are heavily colored also has its aftereffects, like green poop. You could choose homemade desserts or yogurt if you have a craving for cold food. 

Are Pregnancy Cravings Related To What The Baby Wants? 

There is no scientific backing for the theory that cravings are developed according to the baby’s nutrition needs. As we know, fetal development is a complicated process. The body may instinctively want what it is lacking, especially because it is supporting the growth of a second individual. But there is no data to back up the theory other than logic. 

What Happens If You Ignore The Cravings? 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that if you are having an intake of healthy, nutritious food, then ignoring pregnancy cravings is not harmful to you or your baby. You could indulge your cravings in moderation during pregnancy as long as it is not unhealthy for the mother and the child. 

According to a study related to ‘when do pregnancy cravings start?’ There is also a phenomenon that occurs during pregnancy known as pica, which is the unnatural craving of some pregnant women for non-food items like soil, ice, toothpaste, paint chips, detergent, clay, etc. This is often associated with some nutritional deficiencies. Indulging in it will cause harm to both mother and the baby. Hence, a consultation with a doctor is necessary.  

What If There Are No Pregnancy Cravings? 

No pregnancy cravings also happen. There is no need to panic about that. It is found that fifty to ninety percent of pregnant women in the U.S. experience food cravings; the rest do not! Let us remember that each body is different, hence no cravings are no anomaly.  

How To Deal With Pregnancy Cravings? 

Skipping breakfast is said to be the number one reason why cravings become worse. Adequate exercise and emotional support from dear ones will help curb the cravings. If you have a craving for something sweet, it may be an indication that your sugar levels are low. Hence, eating small, frequent meals will help. You should also eat a balanced diet and switch the unhealthy cravings to healthier versions of them.

How To Deal With Pregnancy Cravings? 

If one has an excessive craving for sweets, instead of going and digging all pastries and chocolates, one could take a lot of fruits in different forms. If you have a craving for cold foods, instead of digging into ice creams, buy a popsicle mold at home and make ice sticks. The craving for chocolate can be attended to by opting to go for dark chocolates. You should also remember to stay hydrated always and to indulge in nutritious snacks. 

You should bear in mind that excessively indulging in your pregnancy cravings will be detrimental to you and your baby in the longer run. Hence as per the article ‘When do pregnancy cravings start?’ curb your tendencies by having in your mind that excessive indulgence will lead to weight gain too, which can increase the risk of cesarean delivery, gestational diabetes, pre and post-delivery complications, and gestational hypertension. The baby also would be at a risk for heavy birth weight, heart issues, childhood obesity, and adult obesity later on. 

Food Cravings And Gender 

Some cultures do ascribe specific food cravings to a specific gender. The theory is totally unfounded. However, it is believed by many that if you have a strong craving for salty foods, there is a high possibility that the gender of the child is male. If the baby in the bump is female, then the mother is said to develop a strong craving for sweets. These techniques were used during the time science was not that advanced and prenatal diagnostic techniques were unknown.  

Being gravid is not a gravy thing. It is a serious affair. You should definitely be mindful of what you put into your mouth as you are eating for two. Your health as well as your child’s health is in your hands, not your fridge! So when do pregnancy cravings start? is not important, stock up on a lot of healthier options like fruits, veggies, nuts, chia seeds, dark chocolates, and other healthy options that you can munch on when you feel peckish. This is how you get ready for the pregnancy cravings to start the healthy way! ???? 

  1. Cleveland Clinic. (2023). Pica. (Online). Available at

I am Rani Premkumar, a lawyer turned writer. You can find me as a columnist and the editor of an online spirituality magazine. As a writer, I have authored many research articles on the victimization of women since women’s freedom and self-discovery have been my interests in writing. Academically, I am a postgraduate in both Law and Criminology, and with my experience in being part of international certification programs. Besides, I have my P.G. Diploma in Media Law from the National Law School, Hyderabad. Professionally, I have been a marital mediator for over a decade and have been a research scholar in Women's studies.

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