I'm Pregnant — And I'm Craving More Than Just Food

by Jennifer Otto
Pregnant woman surrounded by weird food cravings - glue, gasoline, soap
Scary Mommy and JGI/Jamie Grill/skodonnell/ spxChrome/ colevineyard/Getty

Weird food combos or cravings are not at all uncommon during pregnancy. If you’ve yet to experience any for yourself, you’ve at least heard of or know someone who has.

Ice cream with a side of pickles, anyone?

But what about craving other things during pregnancy?

Yes, I mean other than food.

The truth is, there are some lesser-known pregnancy cravings that I didn’t even know existed until I began experiencing them, myself.

What the heck is happening to my sense of smell?

So, when you get pregnant, chances are, some of your senses will become heightened. You can thank increasing levels of estrogen and other hormones for that. Sometimes it’s little changes, sometimes bigger. If the smell of sizzling ground beef suddenly sends you running to the bathroom, don’t worry – you’re definitely not alone.

I’m currently on my fourth pregnancy, so I’m mostly unsurprised at even the weirdest changes to my senses. But, guys, it’s been getting extra weird lately.

How so, you ask?

Well…I’ve been craving the smell of gasoline.

Yes – I said what I said. I’ve been craving the smell of gasoline.

Probably midway through my second trimester, I noticed a difference in my sense of smell. Not only was it heightened – I now also enjoyed smells you wouldn’t usually consider aromatic: wet paint, cleaning chemicals, cigarette ash…and yes, gasoline.

My husband frequently has some sort of project going on in the garage. Even if he’s not actively working on something, the scents of sawdust, greasy tools, oil, and different types of metal waft through the breezeway which connects the garage to our house. They’re all smells I’m quite used to. They’ve never bothered me in the past – I have always been indifferent to them. They’re just there, as part of the house.

When my preggo nose first started acting all bionic, I kind of shrugged it off. I knew it was normal for senses to ramp up, so whatev!

But, slowly, I began to notice how much I liked the smell between our house and garage. The five seconds it took for me to walk through the breezeway to pick up a pair of shoes, became an oddly welcoming time of day.

I quickly thereafter noticed the gasoline thing. My hubs had begun an overhaul project on our tractor and every time I went in, or near, the garage, all I smelled was gas.

And. I. Loved. It.

Sooo, what’s actually happening to me?


Getty Images/iStockphoto

Craving the smell of something, or craving olfaction, is called desiderosmia.

Yeah, there’s a name for it.

Desiderosima is usually (but not always) associated with pica, which is craving substances that have no nutritional value.

Pica occurs more commonly in children, BUT pregnant woman get it too!

If you look it up, you’ll find that the cause of pica, as well as desiderosima, is still unclear. Many doctors seem to agree it probably has something to do with anemia or other nutrient deficiencies. Usually, if you bring it up to your doctor, they’ll check your blood to be sure. However, if your blood work looks normal (cough, cough, like mine), then an iron pill won’t help.

But, DON’T WORRY! The disorders themselves don’t seem to otherwise be harmful…unless you act on any of your cravings.

So, what are some common cravings for people with pica or desiderosima?

Someone experiencing pica will crave the taste of things like:


Clay Sand Dirt Chalk Cigarette butts or ash Paint Chalk Glue Mothballs Stones

I think it’s pretty safe to say you shouldn’t ingest any of these items, pregnant or not. But, please, contact a health professional if you’ve given into any pica urges.

Someone experiencing desiderosima will crave the smell of things like:

Cigarette ash

Rubbing alcohol Nail polish Gasoline Chalk Leather Bleach or other chemicals Laundry detergent Moth balls Dirt

Again, it’s not safe to ingest any of these substances. Also, huffing them can be harmful to you and baby!

No need for me to feel crazy, right?


Both pica and desiderosmia are way more common in pregnancy than you’d think!

Just be sure to mention any odd non-food cravings to your doctor, and they’ll take it from there. Blood tests, vitamins, medications, pep-talks…they got ya covered!

And, trust me, hearing that you want to eat a lump of clay is so not the craziest thing your doctor has ever heard.