A yen for salt is one of the more common cravings of pregnancy. Parenting.com indicates that as many as 80 percent of pregnant women experience some cravings. As long as you check with your doctor first, you can indulge yourself. A little extra sodium probably will not hurt you or your baby.
Theories abound as to why women crave salt during gestation. Your body needs to retain more water during pregnancy and your cravings may be your body’s way of cuing you to help that process along, since sodium tends to make you retain fluids. During your first trimester, an increase in your progesterone level can also cause you to lose more sodium in your urine, so your body may be trying to replace that. If you suffer from morning sickness, that could deplete your sodium levels as well.
When Cravings Start
Cravings usually begin in the first trimester. After that, they may disappear entirely, or they may taper off to a more manageable level. But in some women, salt cravings increase as pregnancy progresses. A woman’s blood volume goes up markedly during the last two trimesters. Added salt can help with that process.
Unless your doctor recommends against it, you shouldn’t deprive yourself when your body craves a certain kind of food, but some sodium sources are better than others. For example, vegetable soup and pickles can satisfy your need for a salt fix while still providing your body with other essential nutrients. Potato chips, however, have less nutritional value. Processed meats, such as luncheon meats and bacon, are usually high in sodium as well, but they’re not particularly healthy.
Pregnancy Today recommends against trying to cut back on sodium while you’re pregnant, unless your physician advises you to. You might need as many as 2,000 to 8,000 mg of sodium a day during this time. Satisfying your cravings within reason is probably fine unless you kill your appetite for other nutritious foods by focusing on one high-sodium product. A few pickles or pretzels don’t become problematical unless you allow them to substitute for well-balanced meals.