My Baby Makes Me Eat Furniture Polish:
Pregnant Woman Despairs Of Her Unusual Craving
A pregnant woman with a constant craving for furniture polish has been diagnosed with a rare eating disorder after her three-times-a-day habit forced her to seek medical advice.
Seven months pregnant Emma Veness, 26, is inexplicably drawn to eating polish despite her own fears she could be harming her baby.
Craving: Emma Veness said she first started sniffing her dusters but then started
to eat polish straight from the can
After the first time, Emma said she was determined not to do it again but every day her craving comes back with a vengeance, leaving her desperately searching for snacks in the cupboard under the sink.
Since her unusual habit started she has consumed three whole cans and now worries her craving will never go away.
Emma, from Birmingham, was first drawn to the cleaning product a few months into her pregnancy and now says she must eat it two or three times a day to keep her cravings at bay.
Her strange obsession with non-edible items started as a child when she began eating bubbles out of her bath - something she has done ever since.
As she grew up, Emma found herself drawn to the smell of cleaning products and anti-bacterial handwash but it was not until she fell pregnant with her first child, daughter Darcie, now 11 months, that her obsession with polish began.
To begin with, she would sniff the dusters as she went about cleaning the house she shares with her partner, Gavin Wallis, a 27-year-old bricklayer.
But by the time she fell pregnant with the couple's second child, a little girl expected in October, she began eating the polish straight from the can.
Disorder: Ms Veness said the GP told her to eat a chocolate bar instead but that
has done nothing to ease her condition
Emma said: 'I can't explain why I like it, I think it has a lot do with the texture and how it feels in my mouth. I normally spray a bit on my fingers and lick it off or I spray a bit on the duster and suck it.
'For ages Gavin had no idea what I was up to. I would be polishing the TV and I would turn my back to him to have a taste of it. When he found out he was not happy at all.
'My mum goes mad about it and has tried to get me to stop. The funny thing is both her mum and Gavin's grandmother had cravings for coal when they were pregnant.
'It's quite embarrassing; I've tried all the different brands but Asda Smart Price polish is the one that does it for me. The others are all too perfumed.
'The thing that really worries me is that it might not go away after the baby arrives. After Darcie was born my craving for sniffing polish and cleaning products stayed permanently and all my friends who had had babies were over theirs.
'While I'm pregnant I try to stop myself and limit it to just a few times a day, as I'm scared of harming the baby. But I know that if I only had myself to think about I would be eating can after can of the stuff.
'I'm only 26 and I don't want to be eating furniture polish in my 50s.'
Emma said she rarely drinks, has never smoked and tries hard to live a healthy lifestyle. But when it comes to her addiction, only polish will do.
Realising she had a problem, Emma, who suffers from low iron levels, went to her doctor to see if there was something she could do to curb her weird habit.
She said: 'I went to my GP and she just told me to stop doing it. I had looked up (the medical disorder) "Pica" on the internet and she confirmed that's what it was but she just said to have a chocolate bar instead.
'"I feel so guilty about doing it as I don't know whether it might be harming the baby, but I could have a million chocolate bars and it wouldn't make any difference - when I want polish, it's the only thing that will do.'
Emma describes how sometimes she wakes in the middle of the night craving the taste of polish and has in the past lain awake for hours trying not to give in to the urge before eventually succumbing in order to get back to sleep.
She said: 'I find it's worse if I am bored or stressed. If I'm keeping myself busy and running around after Darcie, I am all right. But as soon as I stop to sit down or watch a bit of TV, I think to myself: 'I want some polish now.'
'Once I've started thinking about it, it's so hard to stop. I imagine it's what addicts must feel like as eventually I start to feel sick if I haven't had some and I inevitably give in just to make the sick feeling go away - it's like I'm suffering from withdrawal.
'Certain things make me crave it even more, like simply talking about it or when adverts for polish come on the telly.'
Emma, a secondary school teaching assistant, added: 'I just wish someone could help me stop, but no one seems to know how to help me or what to do. Most people have never even heard of Pica.'
A spokesman for Beat, the eating disorders charity, said doctors needed to educate themselves about Pica.
He said: 'It's important that any individual has a well-balanced diet and if they are worried that something like this is affecting them they should seek help at the earliest opportunity.
'We do on occasion get people coming to us to say they are suffering from this condition. It doesn't provide any nutritional intake at all and can have long term health implications. Particularly when someone is pregnant, it's important to provide suitable nutrition for them and the growing baby.
'We would urge GPs to make themselves more familiar with this condition and other disordered eating patterns so people can get the help they need.'
Pica is a form of eating disorder. More information and help can be found at Beat and the National Centre for Eating Disorders