My iron has done really well this pregnancy. I have been very, very careful about eating liver once a week and avoiding un-soaked grains and it has all paid off...until last week. it is a common issue in the third trimester and my iron usually lags well before now which means I have been doing a good job. Unfortunately, not good enough. So, I am tripling my liver intake and making sure I get it with a good, natural source of vitamin C so I can get as much iron in me as possible before the baby is born (in like seven to eight weeks, there is time). Today I had 3/4 of a pound of chicken livers fried in bacon fat with a generous amount of salt and pepper and a side of Satsuma orange segments. It is a good thing that I love poultry livers so much! In case you do not understand iron or the role that un-soaked whole grains and vitamin C play in your ability to absorb (or not absorb iron), here is a reminder of previous posts on my blog about these topics:
But, I do want to talk about a new iron related issue that I have not yet covered on the blog. A lot of us are familiar with the general symptoms of low iron during pregnancy; you know, things like being so flipping exhausted you fall asleep while drinking a cup of coffee. But there is one more thing I thought I would mention: Pica. Pica is a condition that can be caused by iron deficiency in which the patient develops a craving for, and sometimes actually indulges in, non-nutritive items. See this strange case HERE of a woman who craved and then ate rubber bands and developed some serious health problems as a result. Why I am mentioning pica? I get it and I get it bad.
In my case, every pregnancy when my iron dips, I crave paper. I don't even buy paper towels, there are none in my house, but I dream about eating them--especially the ones with the little circles on them. I know they are not food, I know this, but I crave them and I think about them and when the kids read their comprehension sections to me and I fall asleep listening, I dream about eating them. Well, that and toilet paper. In my dreams my toilet paper smells like lavender and melts in my mouth like the cotton candy of my childhood. While I have never indulged my completely bizarre craving for paper, my husband still freaks out about it. Once, many kids ago, he went out of his way to buy some cotton candy hoping it would help. It didn't.
I had an awesome midwife before and she asked every visit if I ever craved non-food items because she used this as a "between blood tests" check for iron deficiency. Now I don't get a midwife, I get the freaky high-risk "maternal-fetal medicine" specialist and they just rely on blood tests. My last delivery closed the door on natural, non-invasive deliveries (read all about that train wreck HERE). But even before the results were back I knew that my iron was dipping because I was in the bathroom helping the toddler and I looked at the toilet paper and though, "Wow, that looks so good!" Which is strange and wrong and confusing because I know it is not food, really.
Since I know that I am not the only who who craves freaky things like toilet paper, paper towels embossed with circles or rubber bands, I want to encourage you to listen to your body. While it would be more productive for your body to signal a need for iron with a craving for liver, your body sometimes speaks as vaguely as a two year old confronted with permanent marker and a ruined shirt. So, instead of digging through the kitchen junk drawer looking for rubber bands to tide you over until supper, make a run to the health food store and get some liver. Sometimes they need to order it, so get it now and keep it in the freezer for the next time an ad for paper towels makes you drool.
Linking up to Fight Back Friday!