Whether you’re indulging in a tall glass of full-fat milk multiple times a day or dreaming of drinking cold milk straight out of the fridge every time you fall asleep, you might be wondering what’s wrong with you. Why are you craving milk during pregnancy?
Weird pregnancy cravings are one of the first symptoms of pregnancy you experience, and they’re known to follow you for weeks and weeks to come. Maybe you’ve always appreciated a glass of milk after a hard day of work. Maybe you’ve always been a dairy devotee.
Whatever your reasons for scoffing down a gallon of milk at 3 a.m. might be, we’re pretty sure that your newfound (and curious) cravings are a pregnancy thing. Milk, alongside its popular counterpart ice cream, happens to be one of the most commonly craved foods during pregnancy. Why’s that?
Pregnancy cravings have always been a source of discord among medical and health professionals. What are they? Are they physical or psychological? Pregnancy cravings can be caused by a myriad of factors, from hormonal changes and a heightened sense of smell to psychological and cultural expectations.
With that out of the way, though, why are you craving milk during pregnancy? If it’s physical, is it pointing to the baby’s gender or indicating a nutritional deficiency? Is it all hormones? Is it all in your head? We’re bringing you everything you need to know and more down below!
Why do pregnant women crave milk?
Without further ado, pregnant women crave milk for a million reasons. We do need to underline that the old notion about pregnant women and milk, cheese, and ice cream might not be an old wives’ tale, after all. Almost all pregnant women agree that they’ve experienced dairy cravings sooner or later.
We mentioned beforehand that milk might be one of the most common cravings during pregnancy and that’s why we know for sure that almost all pregnant women experience the same (or similar) cravings.
Whether you’re getting out of bed for a glass of milk or sending your husband to fetch you a carton of milk from the nearby store, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Milk hits differently when you’re pregnant, and that’s why you might end up drinking more milk than you did pre-pregnancy.
We might not know for sure why you’re craving milk during pregnancy, but researchers agree that most milk cravings stem from hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, or psychological and cultural expectations. When you’re expecting a baby, your body changes.
We could go on and on about all the reasons why you’re craving milk during pregnancy but you’re probably the only one who can figure out what’s bringing out your milk obsession. Craving milk might not be the worst thing, though. Remember to check your mirror for a mustache and you’re good to go!
5 reasons why you’re craving milk during pregnancy
1. Hormonal changes
Why are your hormones to blame for your milk cravings during pregnancy? When you’re pregnant, your body experiences a sudden surge of hormones estrogen and progesterone which can affect your appetite, as well as your taste and smell perceptions. What’s the tea with that?
Pregnancy cravings are connected with pregnancy food versions, too. While the changes in your taste and smell might make you start throwing up at the thought of drinking your morning coffee, you might experience the opposite with drinking milk. A cold, tall glass of milk might taste better than ever before.
2. Nutritional deficiencies
Sure, the hormonal changes might explain an increase in appetite and the change in taste and smell, but there is no adequate evidence to explain specific food cravings in pregnancy. So, medical professionals agree that there’s a chance you might be experiencing nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy, too.
What do we mean by that? You’d be surprised at how great your pregnant body can be at figuring out what you need and don’t need during pregnancy. You might experience an aversion toward foods that aren’t good for you and cravings toward foods that your body needs the most.
Milk might not be at the top of your priority list when you’re trying to figure out what to eat when you’re pregnant, but everyone’s favorite midnight snack seems to come with a myriad of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For all we know, your body might be craving calcium rather than straight-up milk.
3. You’re actually craving sugar
With that in mind though, your body might be craving sugar, too. When we’re talking about sugar cravings during pregnancy, we’re typically referring to chocolate cravings, sweets cravings, or even cravings for sugary drinks you get at the nearest drive-thru. Milk doesn’t contain sugar, does it?
Milk does contain sugar, and you’ve probably heard about it before. A cup of 1% fat milk has about 13 grams of sugar or simple carbohydrates. Milk sugar is called lactose, and lactose is broken down into glucose once you consume it.
Why is that important? Well, because glucose is the main power source of every organ. When you’re pregnant, you do need more healthy carb sources to replenish your body’s glucose levels.
4. You’re suffering from heartburn
When you’re trying to get rid of heartburn, you might be tempted to experiment with milk. Whenever you get that burning sensation, your body might respond by sending you a message that you’re craving milk – right then and there. A cup of milk combined with a little bit of honey might be able to help!
Acid reflux, or heartburn, refers to a condition that’s quite common during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can make the valve at the entrance to the stomach relax which, in turn, lets acidic stomach contents move up into the esophagus and cause the well-known burning sensation – a.k.a. heartburn.
5. Psychological and cultural expectations
What do pregnancy cravings have to do with psychological and cultural expectations, you wonder? Although you’re pregnant for the first time, for example, you’re already aware that you’re going to end up craving milk, cheese, and ice cream. Why? Because that’s what everyone says.
When you’re expecting a baby, you’re bombarded with TikToks, Instagram posts, and articles that warn you about the oncoming milk obsession. You’re talking to your friends and family and asking them about their pregnancy cravings. You’re getting ready to spend all your money on milk and cheese.
According to research, psychological factors and cultural associations can influence cravings. At the end of the day, you want to feel like you’re going through the same changes your mother, grandmother, or your BFF went through when they were pregnant.
What about chocolate milk?
Why are you craving chocolate milk during pregnancy, though? We’d argue that the reasons are pretty much the same. Whether you’re plagued by your hormones or the fact that you’re suddenly developing a sweet tooth, you might specifically want to drink chocolate milk all the time.
We can’t forget about the fact that chocolate happens to be one of the most common pregnancy cravings, too, and that’s why you might be craving the two together. What’s great about both chocolate and milk, seems to be the fact that both are considered safe and healthy for the expecting mother.
Milk contains a bunch of nutrients that can be beneficial for you and your baby. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can reduce the risk of preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and even miscarriage. Together – they’re great.
What about other types of milk?
Nowadays, you’re bombarded with different types of milk, too. Whether you’re vegetarian, or vegan, or you don’t like the taste of regular milk, you might be drawn to coconut milk, oat milk, almond milk, or another type of plant-based milk.
We might not have enough research to decide whether regular milk cravings or plant-based milk cravings are the same or similar, but that’s not what matters, anyway. Without a shadow of a doubt, you can consume plant-based milk during pregnancy the same way you did pre-pregnancy.
Depending on the milk of your choice, different types of plant-based milk are known to contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, too. We do suggest consulting with your doctor because not all pregnant women are the same and you might need the nutrients you can get from regular milk.
What to consider when consuming milk during pregnancy?
Don’t worry, you can consume almost all types of milk safely during pregnancy – but you do need to pay attention to a few things. Depending on the intensity of your cravings, you might be struggling to drink milk without chugging down the entire carton. Moderation, like with most things, is key.
Milk is great for you and your baby, but drinking too much milk can cause all sorts of problems. For example, drinking too much milk during pregnancy might lead to iron deficiency in your baby. For what it’s worth, iron is essential for healthy brain development and that’s why your baby needs it.
Moreover, drinking unpasteurized milk during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or illness. Unpasteurized milk can contain the bacteria Listeria which can be incredibly dangerous for you and your baby. Consult with your doctor and proceed with caution.