Friday, April 20, 2012

Pregnant Women and Their Cravings: What Do These Mean to the Husbands?

Some of my friends who are pregnant or already given birth often ask me if I am craving anything during my pregnancy now. I said “YES, lots of things!”. Some of them shared their experiences that they once craved some weird stuff too during their pregnancy period and advised me to just enjoy whatever cravings I currently experience. Some even said that I am so lucky to experience the ‘craving’ phase as they didn’t develop any crave at all during their pregnancy.

The question is, in reality, are expectant dads out there really lucky to have pregnant wives with food cravings?

Just a little background, from my quick various desk reading, I gathered that there are three probable key reasons that make pregnant women crave certain foods – although these theories may not be scientifically proven yet.  First of all, the main culprit of a pregnant woman’s craves is likely the surge of pregnancy hormones that is mighty to alter some pregnant women’s sense of smell and taste plus their gastronomical imaginations to some abnormal level. Second of all, pregnancy craving is probably caused by the expectant moms’ temporary nutritional deficiencies and the foods they crave are essential for nourishing the baby in the womb. For instance, if one pregnant woman suddenly craves dairy products, she is probably lacking of calcium at that point of time. Last but not least, strong emotions during pregnancy are perhaps another source of women’s cravings. For all I know pregnancy is quite similar to PMS. It is such a time for eventful emotional roller coasters for some women. When a pregnant woman feels so overwhelmed with her surroundings, on some dark days, her diet may evolve around those elusive empty calorie foods as her comfort fixes. If she lives away from her hometown, her mind could also start wandering over digging in those childhood foods that she used to fancy. Make sense?

Moving on, as in my own personal experience, here are some illustrations of foods that I have craved thus far. I believed I have craved or been craving many more of weird food but the below are some troublesome examples that stand out or still stuck in my memories up to this moment. Some of my spicy food cravings have even sent me to the doctor with diarrhoeas. (1) Food that is not readily available – occasionally, my husband needs to drive to a distant place to get me some type of dishes that are not obtainable in town. For instance, in my early pregnancy, I very much longed to eat nice and authentic Ayam Penyet, Balinese Nasi Campur, Gado-Gado and Es Campur that are only sold in some Indonesian Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur (approximately 1 hour drive is required to get to the restaurant from our home in Seremban). Once, I also begged him to buy me a complete set of Nasi Timbel which we could only find in a Sundanese Restaurant in Johor Bahru (3-4 hours driving from Seremban is needed to get there!). 

A set of Nasi Timbel that required my husband to drive 
all the way to Johor Bahru so I can enjoy it.

(2) Expensive food that we don’t usually eat. As you might have known, in a place like Seremban, dining on international food is not cheap. There are times that I craved rare Korean or Japanese cuisines. My husband and I had to spend 3x-5x money to pay for these foods than what we usually spend for our regular meals for two, but I just could not help it. (3) Food that I used to hate. I loved eating Nasi Lemak when I was in Singapore or just a visitor in Malaysia. However, when my status was upgraded to a permanent inhabitant in Malaysia and exposed to Nasi Lemak or Economic Bee Hoon for my regular breakfast – I got really fed up with these dishes and refused to eat them for more than a year. Recently, my appetite has been mysteriously reformed. I have been eating Nasi Lemak and Economic Bee Hoon as breakfast, lunch or dinner way too often to the point that my husband is beginning to ‘unlike’ them.

A serving of Pork Bulgogi from a local Korean food restaurant. 
One serving of this dish, excluding steamed rice and kimchi, costs us RM 25.

Despite all this painful cravings, I also developed some ‘easier’ cravings to fulfill during my pregnancy. Easier cravings here define foods that can be easily bought from local food stalls in town or supermarkets. This includes foods or dishes that I need to make myself as well, such as Lapis Surabaya or Javanese Fried Rice/Noodles; as a result, they not too bothersome for my husband to find.

So what do all these (re: pregnancy food cravings) mean to a husband?

(1) A Doting Life Partner
In my take, a husband’s countless sacrifices in going the distance to satisfy his pregnant better half’s food cravings simply means that he loves, cares and appreciates his partner so much. It shows that he is sharing his responsibilities with his wife, in some of sore ways, during her pregnancy and willing to do whatever it takes to make her pregnancy goes well. I am sure when the man witnesses his unborn baby so healthy during the monthly doctor exams, his pains in entertaining his pregnant wife in the previous 29 days are somewhat paid off.

(2) Husband Abuse
Truth be told, a pregnant woman’s crazy craves are torturing and stressful to her partner. When I asked my husband what he feels about his overall experience in treating a fussy and challenging pregnant woman like his wife; he told me that maybe I should just name all the bad things I could imagine off the top of my head to describe his sufferings. Last week, I read a section in a local parenting magazine that features some Moms’ stories of their most memorable pregnancy craving. Essentially this section discusses difficult food craving that required their husbands to go extra miles to get specific dishes for their ravenous pregnant wives. Intrigued by this discussion, I asked the same question to my husband hoping that he would find this question cute. My husband counter queried me. He said, “Why don’t you just ask what was the most memorable easiest food craving that my wife ever demanded from me to date?” I replied, “Alright, what’s that?” He immediately answered, “A liter of ice cream in the freezer that I bought for her.” Fair enough. My whole pregnancy ordeals up to now have not been silky smooth journey on my man. I request a lot of things from him.

(3) Emotional Resistance Training
I suppose a pregnant woman’s craving issues really get into her husband’s nerves when he can’t read her any more. In my case, my pregnancy has turned me into a bipolar woman to some extent. After some continuous whines and hints to get me to a place and buy me some particular food; there were times when we have reached the destination to eat or buy something, I changed my mind of the food that I wanted to have. In addition, there were also times that I don’t know what food exactly what I wanted, given the situation that there are lots of things that I don’t like or can’t eat. The last part can really lead both of us to unnecessary arguments over breakfast/lunch/dinner menu. My husband once said that he has gotten too weary in satisfying all my food cravings during my pregnancy. He also feels that I have deliberately used up all my ‘pregnancy’ rights to make his life more difficult than usual. Yet, none of these was intentional from my end.

To conclude, while all the food cravings that an expectant woman demands are really annoying and trying for the husband, I think it is important for the would-be father to keep a cool head, stay patient and supportive as best as he could. All these tribulations indeed test one man’s endurance but yearnings for particular food are just one of those undeniable parts of carrying the little one for a woman.

For this reason, expectant dads, please be resilient as this grim phase will pass in due course. Finally, as one of those pregnant women who are experiencing crazy food cravings, let's not forget to thank and show some appreciations to our husbands’ colossal supports in riding all the smooth and bumpy roads during the entire nine-months gestation period with us.

Cheers to all fathers-to-be!

P/S: Do you believe the old wives’ tale that says when your food cravings during pregnancy are not well handled; your baby will be born with excess saliva? 

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