Ice Ice Baby!

You might be thinking, “What the heck is she talking about?” The title of this blog post will make sense in a moment. And no, I am not talking the illicit drug known as “ice”. I am literally talking about frozen water such as ice cubes, crushed ice etc. and weird pregnancy cravings. This is a vulnerable post so I encourage you to read the whole blog post before jumping to conclusions. Btw, all images are my own and any advice I share here is based on personal experiences. And just to be clear, I am not a medical doctor nor am I here to give medical advice.

Some Quick Life Updates

I have been busy this month studying for the NCLEX, so I don’t have a list of goals to follow except for the ones that were carried over from March 2021. I really need to pass this exam, and it is has been stressing me out because I still don’t feel prepared. To be honest, I don’t think that I will ever truly feel prepared for this exam. Also, I was working up until this past weekend, and had to decline another shift because it is getting increasingly more difficult for me to work; right now I am 34 weeks pregnant and feel totally useless. I picked up one CDC shift this week which is a work-from-home job, and I feel guilty for not picking up additional shifts right now. There is only so much that I can do these days without losing my sanity 🙄 In the meantime, my cravings for crushed ice are very intense. I crave ice more than I crave MCDs coffee and bubble tea.

Most of you probably enjoy munching on the ice at the bottom of your glass on a hot summer day, and it is quite normal to enjoy the occasional ice cube from time to time. But is it normal to crave ice every day, regardless of season? I have what is known as “Pica” which is defined as:

Pica – craving and chewing substances that have no nutritional value – such as ice, clay, soil, or paper. Craving and chewing ice is often associated with iron deficiency, with or without anemia, although the reason is unclear. – Mayo Clinic

For most people with pica, it is usually due to a deficiency and goes away once the deficiency is corrected. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I craved ice from 1st trimester up until I gave birth. We did not have access to the best health care services in Saskatchewan, so my anemia was easily overlooked. Apparently, I was severely anemic and nobody caught onto this, including myself. After I had my daughter, my ice cravings went away soon after. I think that pagophagia, that is, cravings for ice, are highly correlated with low iron levels during pregnancy. Now that I am wiser and have better access to healthcare where I currently live, I am suspicious that my iron levels might be dropping again, so I will be getting another blood test in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, I plan to start taking an iron supplement.

Symptoms Related to Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA)

I am going to share with you some of the symptoms that I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Women in their child-bearing years are highly susceptible to Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA). You might have IDA and not even know it, since other health conditions can cause these symptoms as well. One particular thing that screams iron deficiency for me is pagophagia (cravings for ice) which is based solely on my personal experiences. Please speak to your doctor if you think that you may be deficient in iron or have similar symptoms as I do. I am not going to go into detail about the pathophysiology, pharmacology, and biological pathways related to IDA. If you are interested in that stuff, feel free to check out this link for more information.

My Iron Deficiency Symptoms:

  1. Pica: Cravings for ice, dirt, clay etc. Has anyone watched My Strange Addiction? It is a rather disturbing show and yet I watched all of the episodes I could find on YouTube 😂 I am convinced that several of these people have Pica. Personally, I don’t think cravings for ice is that bad except that it is terrible for tooth enamel, but overall, I don’t think that my addiction to ice is hurting anyone. I know that every addict says that, but it’s just frozen water, people. It is not like I am eating paint chips or chalk. Personally, I prefer soft ice over hard ice (yes, there is a difference!). If you suddenly develop cravings for non-food items, please don’t ignore this red flag and speak to your doctor. I am not here to glamorize Pica – it is abnormal.
  2. Extreme fatigue and lack of energy Like I said before, other conditions can mask iron deficiency anemia (IDA). From personal experience, I know that 3rd trimester is exhausting, and perhaps my lack of energy and feeling like I am going to pass out are linked to that. However, fatigue and overall lack of energy are also related to low iron levels.
  3. Breathlessness with light exercise Perhaps this is related to pregnancy, as I am extremely exhausted climbing stairs these days. I can barely walk to the mailbox down the street without feeling totally exhausted. Even getting ready for work was a daunting task that I dreaded, and it is a miracle that I can even managed to get through the day without feeling like I was going to collapse any second. Other people have even pointed out that I look tired. Extreme exhaustion is not normal and should be discussed with your doctor if you are experiencing similar symptoms.
  4.  Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Since 1st trimester, I have been getting the worst leg and foot cramps at night. On average, I get anywhere from 2-6 leg cramps, including Charlie Horses, in a single night. I also get horrible itching at night, so I often need to resort to an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-allergy medication, which doesn’t always relieve the itching. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had similar itching so I know this is probably a pregnancy thing. But is it really a pregnancy thing, or an iron deficiency thing? 🤔 I already discussed this with my doctor and was told to increase my magnesium intake. The dose that she recommended for me is quite high so I am going to try a magnesium gel to help calm my restless legs at night. Apparently, gels and sprays are much more absorbent then magnesium gummies. If you are curious to know where I order most of my melatonin and magnesium products from, I use a Canadian site called www.naturalcalm.ca. Even though they only ship within Canada, I have seen some of their products in US stores.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dsc_8010.jpg
First comes love, then comes marriage 💕

Are you experiencing similar symptoms? Do you have weird cravings for things like ice? If yes, then I would highly recommend getting your iron levels checked. Sometimes, relying on food sources that are high in iron is just not enough, especially if you are also expecting 🤰 If you are struggling with pica or any of the symptoms I listed above, I want you to know that there is hope. Feel free to join the comments section below ↓ if you can relate to these struggles or deal with a deficiency. It helps knowing that I am not alone ♥ I will do my best to reply to your comments!

Thanks for stopping by!

great-vibes.regular (1)

49 thoughts on “Ice Ice Baby!

  1. winteroseca says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Hope your blood test is okay. To me, chewing ice sounds painful, but only because I have problems with my teeth

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I still need to book the blood test and the dr at the clinic said that there’s no hurry. Surprisingly, it’s not painful for me to chew ice which is weird. I’m surprised that I can even tolerate hot and cold beverages! Soft-ice is a light kinder to the teeth and I wish we had a machine like they have in the hospital. Hospital ice is the best! 🥰 Now I sound like a crazy person! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      • winteroseca says:

        I actually agree with you about hospital ice. When I had appendicitis, I drank so much ice water. Now, I have gum recession, so no go!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Yikes! 😖 Appendicitis sounds super painful. Gum recession sounds super painful too. The good news is that you’re being proactive about it! I had my gallbladder removed when I was 16 and the gallstone pain was unreal. It was such a relief to have my gallbladder removed.

        I agree that hospital ice water is the best ♥️

        Like

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Appendicitis can be scary, especially if the appendix bursts. The scariest organ to burst is the spleen because there’s only a 1-hr time window to save someone’s life if their spleen bursts! 🙊

        I think I would be so much healthier if I had access to [crushed] ice water every single day. Plain water is just not the same! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Did you know that some people cannot feel pain? We tend to think that pain is a bad thing, but it’s the body’s main form of communication. It’s good that you got your appendix removed. To this day, humans are still trying to figure out the true purpose of the appendix.

        Like

  2. ashleyleia says:

    It’s fascinating how women’s bodies express their needs during pregnancy. Some of it seems so illogical, like ice for iron deficiency or morning sickness when extra calories are needed for the fetus, but the body seems to have its reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ashok says:

    Interesting and informative post Hilary. Lots of new stuff for me.

    I have always wondered at the amount of ice consumed in America – North as well as South.

    Stay safe. Stay healthy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I had RLS with my daughter and only seem to get it when I’m pregnant. When I’m not pregnant, I get the occasional Charlie Horse but the frequent leg cramps, Charlie Horses, and intense itching are definitely a pregnancy thing for me. It could be an iron deficiency thing though – I highly recommend getting your iron levels checked if you are still dealing with RLS. RLS can also be a magnesium deficiency thing too.

      It might be good to see if you can find some magnesium supplements. I recommend the gels/sprays over the magnesium gummy supplements. Also, doing some stretches before bed can help too – specifically, stretching out the leg and calf muscles. I haven’t had time to do yoga but I want to start doing that again, especially if it can help relieve the pain. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Ang! 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

  4. bosssybabe says:

    Congrats on your pregnancy, first of all. And gosh, I never knew there was an actual name for this (I don’t have it). I have seen that show and it’s so fascinating lol the few episodes I saw was someone eating rocks, another eating a sofa I think and someone who was addicted to spraying febreeze in their mouth like it was whipped cream 😱😱🤔🤔

    Do you have any aversions? I couldn’t look at /think about chicken for the longest time lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I think it was a good thing to choose this topic to write about at 2AM this morning; insomnia is another thing I am currently dealing with 😴 Yes, there was a lady who ate couch cushions which I found very bizarre, but it was probably related to some kind of vitamin or mineral deficiency. I couldn’t imagine febreeze tasting very good either… I can hardly stand the smell the febreeze because it smells so artificial 🙊

      As for food aversions, I can’t really think of anything except for salmon and stringy cooked green vegetables. I couldn’t stomach these foods when I was pregnant with my daughter. I try to avoid salmon altogether – never cared for it. Hamburger meat cooking on the stovetop stinks up the house too, and it’s worse than Febreeze LOL It’s interesting that you didn’t like chicken, because I had chicken teriyaki for dinner tonight! Did your aversion to chicken go away? Do you eat chicken these days?

      Like

  5. Michelle says:

    It’s great that you can share your experiences to make others aware. I craved ice 24/7 with my 1st child but had no idea why. My doctor never mentioned Pica or anemia to me. I stayed tired all the time and all I wanted to eat was crushed ice.

    With my daughter I craved cucumber slices in water and now I hate that. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Cucumber water actually sounds amazing right now 😍 The last time I had cucumber water was at a hotel, before pandemic times. I think that Pica and anemia are often missed in pregnancy, and since I am dealing with it yet again, I figured it would be a good opportunity help spread awareness. Thank you for reading and commenting, Michelle! 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ceponatia says:

    I am malnourished as 🦆 but I can be certain I get plenty of iron because red meat is about the only thing I eat these days, haha!

    Also, touché Hilary. I met a woman online. You were right and I was a pessimistic jerk. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I try to eat red meat but most meat hurts my teeth, especially steak. I think the low-iron is pregnancy related because my anemia went away after having my daughter. Believe it or not, my iron levels were on the high-end of normal when my blood was tested in 1st trimester last year! 🍖 I think my iron plummeted majorly in 3rd trimester as I am currently feeling like total crap. Not just crap. Total crap. 😂

      Hmm.. I think I’m gonna need more context regarding what happened. 🤔 I’m supposed to approach this therapeutically, and I tend to be a bit too blunt about things #not-therapeutic. There is good in people, including women. I think your previous experiences may have strongly had a negative impact on how you approach ppl online.. but this is just an assumption.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ceponatia says:

        You’re right, I do, and not just women. Without going into oversharing and TMI, its something I try to be conscious of but sometimes I’m focused on other things and it comes back up.

        I was referring to me saying I’d never meet a decent person on a dating app and you repeatedly saying I would lol. Well, I did. So far. We’ll see what happens. It’s long distance (she lives in NJ and I in MI) but we’ve had “Zoom dates” so I’m at least sure I’m not being catfished. Lmao

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Long distance can be a curse and/or a blessing (been there). It seems like Zoom dates are the safest option these days, and a smart choice regarding the pandemic we’re dealing with 😷The pandemic is bad here and seeing crowds of people makes me SMH 🤦‍♀️ It sounds like you’re doing the right thing. Good luck – I hope it all works out in the end 🙏🏻

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Helen says:

    I admit that I’ve never had any cravings toward ice. I didn’t know that it was sort of related to icon deficiency syndrome!
    I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be addicted to ice — there are worse things to be addicted to after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I am chomping on ice right now. It’s bad for my teeth but I crave ice so badly. Idk why ice tastes so good but it does! 😂 The cravings will away postpartum, so I know this is a temporary thing. Pregnancy cravings sure are strange!

      Like

  8. Pooja G says:

    I’ve had anemia for a few years now- it’s genetic and almost everyone in my family has it. I used to crave ice and dirt so I kind of know what you’re going through. Dates have helped me a lot- I eat them everyday and they made my cravings go away completely and my iron levels are normal now. I hope you aren’t deficient but until you get your results I would recommend adding dates to your diet they might help.
    On a lighter note you must be so excited about the baby!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. buddy71 says:

    a well done post. written just as a nurse would write about the subject.
    1. since you passed school, and im sure the school prepares you not only to work as a nurse, but also in taking the boards, you will pass your test.
    2. dont feel “bad” about not being able to work more. one MUST know their limits to stay healthy in mind and body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you, @Buddy71!

      1. I needed a catchy title, but wanted the post to be informative. For some reason I was thinking Britney Spears, but this song is actually from a rapper called Vanilla Ice! Britney Spears has a song called “Break the Ice” which would have worked too, but by the time I realized the mixup, I had already published this post 😂
      2. I graduated in December 2020, got a casual job in February (I’m off now until July), and just wrote the NCLEX-RN yesterday morning! It was such a weird test but I was expecting it to be weird and hard. I’m feeling hopeful that I passed…..3000 practice questions later 🙏🏻 I’ll know the results in a couple of days.
      3. Speaking of work, I ended up getting temporary full hours for May and June (luckily it’s work from home). Just found this out yesterday…. no warning or anything lol Like the saying goes, be careful what you wish for! 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Stay safe and healthy 😷

      Like

      • buddy71 says:

        You’re lucky that your test only took a couple hours or so in the e to get the result in a couple days. When I took my boards back into dinosaur times, it was a two-day event. We would sit at tables two to a table and use Scantron cards and number two pencils. Then it took six to eight weeks before we would get our results. But in the meantime we could work as RNs but we were called interim permit which meant we graduated school and just waiting to hear from the board whether we passed or not. Usually if people did well in school they did well on the boards. At the time I took my boards again back in dinosaur times, the school I graduated from had a 97% pass rate for boards. The woman I sat next to for 2 days came from a school down by San Diego. That school only had a 50% pass rate. I think we talked about this before you and I and you said that your school had a very high pass rate. So I’m confident that you will do fine unless you totally decompensate at taking tests which I don’t think happened. You stay safe and well also.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Update: I passed the NCLEX-RN! 🙌 I couldn’t imagine having to use a scantron to write this exam. I hated scantrons in high school! Results were surprisingly fast here. They told me I passed within 48 hours 🤭 I didn’t see the email at first because it ended up in my junk folder lol

        Like

  10. Kate says:

    Congratulations on your pregnancy and passed test! Well done 🙂 And thank you for sharing your experiences.I never knew chewing ice would be a symptom of something.I thought some people simply like ice so much 😛 But I know the RLS and even though I know it comes from the lack of magnesium and I treat it,it still sometimes won’t let me sleep as the cramps are just ..well,pain in the butt..But your point that it can be also connected to iron deficiency is definitely worth looking into.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi Tiani! I wrote the NCLEX last Monday….and I passed! 🙂 I have been meaning to write a blog post about it but haven’t been feeling well enough, or motivated. 3rd trimester is rough! 🙇‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I’m grateful that I wrote it when I did because I’m actually in a ton of pain right now. I initially signed up to write the exam in May and now I’m happy I wrote it in April. I hope to return to nursing this summer (hopefully July). Thank you for your well wishes! 😊💕

        Like

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