This was a question that directed someone to my blog.
There are two reasons that spring to mind, and the first is the stupid practice of not allowing women to eat or drink anything while in labor, on the extremely tiny chance that they will need an emergency C-section under general anesthesia, and the theoretical risk of the unconscious woman vomiting and then inhaling the vomit, which could cause harm or even kill her. I know of someone who died in this manner during a tonsillectomy, so it is possible, but is very, very rare, and only happens when they haven’t properly made sure the airway stays clear. Proper anesthesiology practice is to assume that people have something in their stomachs; and even when people fast, there is always a small amount of liquid or bile or something in the stomach which could theoretically be vomited up. If you know you’re going in for surgery, then restriction of foods makes sense. If you’re not, then you probably have more risk of having general anesthesia from a car wreck driving to the hospital than you’d have from an emergency C-section once you got there.
But if the question is in regards to pregnant women not in labor eating ice just because they want to, then I would suggest getting a blood test to check for anemia. A former coworker was told by her doctor that her craving of ice chips was actually a symptom of anemia (she wasn’t pregnant at the time). This woman was cold-natured anyway, and if she had had her way, the building would have been kept at 80 degrees at least, all the time. When she was at her worst with eating ice, she would sit at her desk, huddled under a blanket with a space heater by her feet, freezing away… while eating ice! I’d never heard of an ice craving indicating anemia before, but the doc indicated that it was fairly common.
So, if you’re pregnant and craving ice, you may be anemic. Anemia is fairly common in pregnancy — the woman’s blood volume increases quite a bit during the nine months, and if she doesn’t have enough iron, then the extra blood dilutes the iron she has, which manifests as anemia. One problem is, that vitamins or other pills containing iron may cause constipation, which tends to plague pregnant women anyway. Another problem is that iron pills may cause nausea. If you can get iron in a liquid form, or slow-release, or in pills containing a little bit at a time, these may help. Of course, you can always try to eat foods with a lot of iron in them, which I tend to prefer in theory; but if your iron is really low, you may need to “kick-start” with supplements.