Whether you’re a cheese-a-holic or routinely prefer non-dairy alternatives, cravings for milk and other dairy products can pop up during pregnancy. Aside from ice cream, cravings for milk and other dairy are not always the most popular- but they still do happen! Are these cravings a sign of anything or simply another run-of-the-mill pregnancy craving?
Cravings for milk and other dairy products (hello, ice cream) are common during pregnancy. While there is no definite cause of these cravings, a hankering for a glass of milk can get you closer to meeting your daily calcium and phosphorus needs when pregnant. Similarly, indulging in cravings for sweetened dairy can be a healthy part of your pregnancy diet.
Aside from enjoying the flavor, there are a couple of other hypotheses as to what cravings for dairy mean. Likewise, many women crave specific types of milk.
I’ll break down what we know about milk and dairy cravings, including if temperature or flavors have any impact.
Please note that this article specifically deals with cravings only. The nutritional benefits of milk, and the recommended intake to help meet your nutritional needs is covered in a separate article.
Craving Milk During Pregnancy: Does it Mean Anything?
Pregnant women may crave milk or dairy products after hearing that these foods are good sources of important nutrients, like calcium and phosphorus (source: Nutrients).
Being told that milk and dairy products contain helpful nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy can incidentally lead women to subconsciously wanting to eat these foods, leading to cravings.
This same reason can also be seen with cravings for ice cream. Quite possibly the most iconic pregnancy craving, it can seem like nearly every pregnant woman seen on TV and in movies is tucking into a bowl of ice cream.
The expectation that you will crave ice cream and frozen dairy treats while pregnant can also increase cravings for these and similar foods.
Similarly, women who are deficient in these nutrients might get a hankering for these foods as their body’s natural way of trying to help increase calcium intake (source: Intermountain Healthcare).
During pregnancy, the mother’s body gives her own calcium stores (from bones) to her baby to help the little one’s bones develop. This is why it is important to get enough calcium daily, both to ensure your baby gets enough calcium and to protect your own calcium levels.
Not only are dairy products good sources of calcium, but protein and fat as well. If you are routinely not getting enough protein or fat in your diet or overall not eating enough calories to support you and your growing baby, this might also lead to cravings for nutritionally dense foods and drinks like milk.
Another, much more simple reason is that it is soothing or satisfying. Many women report finding warm milk in the evening to be calming. On the flip side, women will often crave an ice-cold glass of milk as a refreshing drink. It is possible that cravings for a specific temperature of milk (ie: warm or ice-cold) is more related to the temperature.
Craving Flavored Milk (e.g Chocolate Milk or Strawberry)
Nostalgia and a delicious treat in a single glass (or cardboard half-pint carton), some women find themselves craving flavored milk, such as chocolate or strawberry.
As with other cravings, there isn’t one concrete reason for flavored milk cravings. Just like cravings for plain milk, craving flavored milk might be due to the drink’s high calcium content or refreshing taste.
Since flavored milks tend to be sweeter than plain milk, thanks to added sugars and flavored syrups, cravings for this type of milk can also fall under the “cravings for sweets” category.
Many women also experience intense food aversions while pregnant, one of the most common being milk. Flavored milk might be craved or a more appealing option since the flavoring masks the “milky” taste.
For more info on craving sweets when pregnant, check out our article that uncovers some of the possible reasons for these cravings.
Though flavored milks are typically higher in sugar than plain milk, that doesn’t make them off-limits.
Flavored milks still contain just as much protein, calcium, and phosphorus as plain milk- all nutrients that are important to support a healthy pregnancy! Considered a sugar-sweetener-beverage, flavored milks should be enjoyed in moderation, however.
Whether you purchase a commercially made (pre-flavored) option or choose to mix at home using a flavor powder/syrup, both are totally safe during pregnancy.
Chocolate milk does contain a very small amount of caffeine from the chocolate, but only around 2 milligrams per 8-ounce cup (source: US Dairy).
Is Craving Milk a Sign of Early Pregnancy?
Nearly all women experience cravings at some point, but strong cravings- especially those for foods that they aren’t typically big fans of- are more common during pregnancy.
For some women, these cravings appear early, even before a missed period or positive pregnancy test. However, cravings tend to get stronger as pregnancy progresses, peaking in the second trimester (source: NHS).
Unfortunately, there are no specific food cravings that are a sure sign of pregnancy. So while early cravings can be a sign of pregnancy, the only way to be sure you are pregnant is a positive test and a trip to your medical provider.
Do Milk Cravings Help Predict Baby’s Gender?
As the anticipation of meeting your little one grows, it is common to read into your pregnancy symptoms, looking for a clue as to your new addition’s gender. Cravings are notorious for old wives’ tales surrounding gender predictions- and cravings for milk are no different.
Anecdotally, during my brief online search of motherhood blogs, most women who craved dairy reported having boys. Unfortunately, there is no scientific link between cravings and gender, it’s all hearsay! So while it can be fun to use cravings to guess your baby’s gender, the best way to get a sneak peek is at your ultrasound appointments.
Whether you find yourself craving dairy or not during your pregnancy, hopefully this article has reassured you that these cravings are normal and not a sign of anything sinister. Though we don’t know the exact cause of milk cravings, enjoying dairy during pregnancy can help you meet your nutrition needs while satisfying cravings.
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