Giving In to Your Pregnancy Cravings Is Bad for Baby


Pregnancy cravingsRaise your hand if you stick to a perfect pregnancy diet – eating a nice healthy balance of foods, with lots grains and fresh fruits and veggies, and religiously taking your giant horse pill of a vitamin every day without fail, even when you're in the depths of morning sickness and it makes you instantly hurl.

Yeah, I didn't do it, either. I tried, lord knows I tried. But there was a point in each of my pregnancies when all I could eat – and I mean all I could eat – was boxed macaroni and cheese (at least it was organic, whatever that means) and ice cream. Maybe sometimes, just to spice things up, a few dry crackers.

I know I'm not alone in eating a questionably limited diet during pregnancy, either. A friend of mine insisted that her baby was pretty much "made of pasta." And my ob-gyn – my ob-gyn – confessed that during her pregnancy, all she had for lunch every day was a peanut butter sandwich and a can of Diet Coke! (I know, but she's a great ob-gyn.)

I did try to take my horse pill every day, but even that was sometimes a challenge, since it instantly compelled me to dry heave … or worse. What good was it if I couldn't keep it down, I rationalized on the infrequent days I allowed myself to skip it?

Well, it turns out I should probably have tried to do better – and I should have done it sooner.

A new study has found that women who eat better – following either a Mediterranean diet (lots of beans, fruits and vegetables, grains and fish; not too much in the way of dairy, meat and sweets) or the food guide pyramid (lots of grains and fruits and vegetables; few fats and sweets) -- during and before their pregnancy are far less likely to have babies with birth defects, particularly brain and spine problems (aka "neural tube defects") as well as cleft lips or palates.

"A lot of birth defects including neural tube defects occur very early in pregnancy, before women even know they're pregnant," study researcher Suzan Carmichael, of Stanford University, told Reuters Health. As a consequence, women who think they may become pregnant should "eat a variety of foods, including a lot of fruits and vegetables and grains in your diet, and take a vitamin supplement that contains folic acid."

So there you have it: Definitive proof that we shouldn't give into our cravings during pregnancy. How brutal is that?

Is there a specific food you've craved during your pregnancy? Are there foods you suddenly can't stand?


Image via CammiRose/Flickr

eating for two, food aversions & cravings, pregnancy health


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Teresa Kennedy

Once again, a "Stir" writer gets all wacky with the hyperbole and oversimplification. It's not so much that giving in to your pregnancy cravings is bad for your baby it's that letting them run rampant and having A LIMITED DIET is bad... DUH. Eating the same things all day every day is bad for anyone, and now we have more evidence that we should avoid it not only for ourselves but for our babies. DO THE BEST YOU CAN. If ice cream is what stays down, try using it to make a smootie with flax seeds and fruit. Veggies were an issue for me this time because I was craving breakfast foods, but I managed to sneak some in (finely grated/ chopped) with the scrambled eggs, and sweet potato pancakes are yummy.

mamayang mamayang

I had gestational diabetes. I was TERRIFIED that if I slipped up even a SMALL amount, it'd hurt my baby, so I followed a diet religiously.


Too bad I can't do that in NON-pregnant form!

I lost ~40lbs during my pregnancy!!!

SandM... SandMsMama

um, this is common sense, no? eating ice cream and mac is bad for anyone, but especially for a growing baby. I never had morning sickness, so my diet wasn't limited in that way. maybe I just don't get it, but pregnancy is no excuse to eat junk. you're growing a PERSON. eat like it.

marie... mariesmama

when i was pregnant i craved potatoes all day any kind

lindc lindc

I agree that it is best to follow a balanced diet at all times--but especially when pregnant. But take it from me (someone who has been on Zofran for vomiting since 6 weeks) sometimes you eat whatever you can. My meals would go like this: eat some chicken and vomit; try some potatoes and vomit; try a few bites of broccoli and vomit; eat some ice cream and voila!! I joke that I could only eat ice cream and ramen noodles for months.

I always took my prenatal during my meal, so that at least I could keep that down. However, I lost 20lbs because of my sickness and my OB told me that she didn't care that all I could eat was ramen noodles for 2 months; it was more important to keep SOMETHING down. I had extreme nausea and vomiting my WHOLE pregnancy. Believe me, I would have preferred a nice balanced diet, but I couldn't keep it down.

elfis... elfishpirat

With this baby, my morning sickness was so bad that I was hospitalized for dehydration. I was throwing up water! And, I lost 20 lbs right off the bat.  My doctors tried 3 different medications(which I promptly threw up). So, you know what? It's better for the baby if I eat ANYTHING, rather than be hospitalized again. Cross your fingers that this latest medication works, because I've been having fantasies about mexican food and damn anyone who tries to tell me I can't.

jpfsmom jpfsmom

With my first pregnancy I craved saurkraut which was odd because I was never a huge fan of it pre baby. I also craved mexican with gobs of guacamole and sour cream. With my second pregnancy I couldn't even look at sweet potatoes (I was in my first trimester at thanksgiving last year so I wasn't much fun haha...). Mayonaise grossed me out both pregnancies. First tri but I still ate deli turkey and I'm happy to report no listeria.

SandsMsMama- you need to take a chill pill always sound so sanctimommy in your posts. I'm willing to bet you aren't as perfect as you make yourself out to be ;)

jpfsmom jpfsmom

Oh and I loved Orange Creme Milkshakes from Steak n shake...after my ob appts, I would hit the drive thru :).

Sarah Keys

I ate a TON of dark meat chicken and potatoes when I was pregnant. My son came out perfectly healthy, so I'd take this article with a grain of salt. Of course healthy eating is very important, but sometimes you need to just do what you can.


I graves granny smith apples with salt

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