Pregnancy Cravings – Reasons, Ayurvedic Explanation

It is quite interesting that most of the pregnant ladies develop craving for particular foods, habits, places, dresses and ornaments. This is observed commonly on 3rd month onward. Many a time those cravings are so unpredictable that it leaves her caretakers in soup. Some believe that it is indeed a pious work if one satisfies the cravings of the pregnant. In Ayurveda we get detail description regarding such a phenomenon. 

pregnancy cravings


Pregnant after a period of 4 months called as Douhridini in Ayurveda.
Dau refers to two.
Hrudini – heart.
According to Ayurvedic text books, 4th month onwards heart of the fetus is activated. As the mother possesses the desires of Two hearts (hrit refers to heart; her own and of the fetus), she is known as Dou hridini.

Dohada means desire. As the pregnant lady gets special desires/longings she is known as Douhridini. It is the reason for some kind of celebrations or parties arranged on account of pregnancy after 4-5 month’s period.

Even though this time period may vary from 8 weeks of pregnancy to 20 weeks of pregnancy most commonly we find such special longings in the month of 3-4. Such a difference in the exhibition of the longings may be because of relative sensitivity of the pregnant for feeling of quickening (feeling fetal movements by the mother).

Pregnancy craving Ayurvedic view

Why the pregnant gets special craving/desires in this time?-Ancient classical view:
According to Acharya Charaka, when the sense organs of the fetus becomes prominent and active, the mind of the fetus gets feelings of happiness and sorrow. Due to this, the fetus exhibits the desires through the mother.

Secondly, fetal heart is formed by the maternal components (matrija bhava) attached to the mothers heart through the minute nutritional transferring channels, namely Rasavahi srotas. Thus through these channels the desires of the fetus are exhibited.

Acharya Sushruta further adds that as the consciousness of the heart of the fetus is evident it gets the desire of the objects like sound, touch, smell, taste, vision etc. Due to this the mother seeks those objects.

Pregnancy craving management

Response/management of the pregnancy cravings:
As it is the expression of the fetus through the mother it should be fulfilled affectionately, except the things that are likely to cause injury or disturbance to the health of mother / child.

Suppression of strong desires will increase Vata in the body and may cause various Vata imbalance. Hence, it is not recommended to suppress those cravings. The Ancient seers opined that forceful suppression of healthier mother cravings may cause physical / mental abnormalities in the fetus.

However, care should also be taken that those cravings are only on the healthier norms.

Probable character of the child

Ayurveda explains the probable character of the child, based upon the type of desires of the pregnant mother:
1. To look at the King/ministerial people/great personalities etc – Rich and lucky child
2. To wear very grand and rich garments and ornaments – Handsome and fond of ornaments and luxury
3. To live in Ashram (sacred places) – Religious, pious, philosopher, has good control over the sense organs.
4. To look at an idol of a deity – Extremely courteous
5. To look at snake etc wild creatures – Ferocious or ruthless
6. To eat meat of iguana – Sleepy, lazy, introverted etc
7. To eat buffalo’s meat – Brave, red eyes, excessive hair in the body
8. To eat hog’s meat – Sleepy, brave and bold
9. To eat deer’s meat – Industrious, hurried , runner

Desire for special things or food is common in the pregnant. It is always recommended to fulfil the desires as they are getting such longings in rare time period of life. Secondly fulfilment of those desires surely builds up good relation and those moments are also memorable. But it is very important to remember that proper food and healthy food and habits are the tools which keeps the fetus healthy.
Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy and Dr Hebbar

Addition by
Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

Douhruda meaning

Douhruda meaning – Douhruda means two hearts. A woman possessing two hearts, one of her own and the other of fetus is called douhridini. The fetus expresses desires through the mother which needs to be fulfilled for the overall healthy development of fetus. Thus, the stage of ‘manifestation of wishes of the child through the mother’ is called dauhruda. Most often, ‘desires of pregnant woman’ are by themselves considered as Dauhruda. Thus when authors tell that the dauhruda should be satisfied, it means that ‘the wishes of the mother and hence those of the fetus should be satisfied’.

Douhruda Kala

Dauhruda Kala (period of dauhrda) –

The term dauhrdini is applicable to a pregnant woman only after the heart of fetus gets manifested, that is when one more heart is added within hers, 

There is difference of opinion about the period of dauhrda. Different authors have given different opinions about dauhrda kala.

According to Sushruta and Bhavamishra – period of dauhrda is fourth month of pregnancy

According to Harita – period of dauhruda is 3rd month of pregnancy.

Charaka and Vagbhata have not clearly mentioned  period of douhruda anywhere. But they have referred it in description of monthly fetal development. Charaka and Vriddha Vagbhata (author of Ashtanga Sangraha) have mentioned the period of manifestation of dauhrda as 3rd month whereas according to Vagbhata (author of Ashtanga Hrdaya) it is 2nd month.

Author of Ashtanga Sangraha, Vagbhata, has cited the opinion of other authors has referred dauhrda period from 3 fortnights i.e. 6 weeks of conception up to completion of 4th or beginning of 5th month of pregnancy.

Quick checklist of period of dauhrda


Period of Dauhrda


3rd month of pregnancy


4th month of pregnancy

Vagbhata 1 (A.Sam)

3rd month of pregnancy

3 fortnights of conception up to the completion of 4th month or beginning of 5th month of pregnancy (according to others

Vagbhata 2 (A.Hr)

2nd month of pregnancy


4th month of pregnancy


3rd month of pregnancy

Causes of Dauhrda

Charaka’s opinion  

When sense organs of fetus become conspicuous, mind which is also a sense organ, gets associated with feelings of happiness and sorrow at the same time. Thus, manifestation of sense organs and association of mind with feelings take place at same time. As a result of this, fetus starts quivering and expresses the desires based on experiences of its previous life. Therefore this point of pregnancy wherein the fetus expresses its desires is called Dauhrda by elder people and scholars.

Fetal heart is formed with maternal components. It is attached to mother’s heart through the channels which carry nutrition. Through these channels, fetus expresses its longings through the mother. Therefore all desires expressed by mother during pregnancy are not the desires of mother, in fact they are the desires expressed by fetus through mother via channels  which connects its heart to mothers heart.

Chakrapani, the commentator of Charaka opines that fetus quivers to get rid of the sorrow and obtain happiness.

Sushruta’s opinion

Sushruta tells that during douhrda period, heart becomes conspicuous in fetus. Because of formation of heart of fetus, the consciousness also manifested during dauhrda stage. This is because heart is the seat of consciousness. Thus, in 4th month of pregnancy, heart of fetus and consciousness get conspicuous and hence pregnant woman is called Douhruda i.e. ‘the one with two hearts’.

Due to manifestation of heart and consciousness, fetus desires the objects of sense organs (sense of sound, touch, vision, taste and smell). Woman due to possession of two hearts at this stage of pregnancy will be called as dauhrdini.

The present life depends on basis of deeds of previous life. Similarly, the longings during dauhrda are also on basis of deeds done in previous life and effect of one’s fate.

Vagbhata’s opinion (A.Sam.Shaa.2/17)

Explanation by senior Vagbhata is same as Charaka. Indu, commentator of Ashtanga Sangraha opines that during dauhruda stage, the desires of mother and fetus are interchangeable, i.e. desires of fetus are known to and expressed through the mother and desires of mother are known to the fetus. Thus there is an emotional exchange between mother and child during Douhruda stage.

Harita’s opinion (Ha.Sam.Tr.Sthana.49/5)

Harita stresses that desires of fetus expressed through mother should be satisfied, i.e. the woman should be provided with the desired substances.

Need to fulfill desires of Douhruda

Need of fulfillment of desires of Dauhruda, effect of suppressing and fulfilling wishes of expectant mother, different opinions

Causes specified by Charaka (Charaka Shaareera 4/15, 17, 21)

Desires of child (fetus) are expressed through mother. Therefore longings of expectant mother should be essentially fulfilled. If these wishes are neglected, they can cause abnormalities of fetus.

Welfare of mother and fetus are like two sides of same coin. Welfare of mother is identical to that of fetus. Thus, wise people always treat pregnant woman affectionately and with beneficial substances.

Whatever pregnant woman desires for should be fulfilled with exception of things which are likely to injure or damage fetus.

If she still constantly desires to have things which can harm fetus to a small extent though, it should still be fulfilled. In fact harmful articles should be provided with addition of beneficial substances which are capable of counteracting harmful effects of given article.

When desires are suppressed, they vitiate vata. This vitiated vata moves in body of fetus produces various diseases, abnormalities or even death.

Causes specified by Chakrapani (Charaka Shaareera 4/15, 17, 21)

Suppression of acute desires – causes death of fetus

Suppression of mild desires – causes fetal abnormalities

Suppression of desires of fetus expressed by mother – vata in fetus gets vitiated and injures it

Suppression of mother’s own desires – vitiated vata of mother reaches fetus. This aggravated vata affects and influences mind of fetus and produces various abnormalities. This happens because welfare of both mother and fetus is same and is mutually dependent.

Causes specified by Sushruta (Sushruta Shaareera3/18-21)

Non fulfillment of desires of dauhruda produces below mentioned disorders in fetus and make him or her –

  • Kubja – hump-backed
  • Kuni – crooked armed
  • Khanja – crooked legged
  • Jada – idiot
  • Vaamana – dwarf
  • Vikruta aksha – dis-shaped eyed
  • Anaksha – absence of eyes

Therefore whatever pregnant woman in dauhruda stage desires, they should be fulfilled due to fear of fetal abnormalities. If desires are not fulfilled, they can harm both mother and fetus. Suppression of desires related to specific sense organ (indriya) would produce abnormality of corresponding indriya in fetus. On other hand, fulfillment of desires results in birth of a child who would possess high appreciable qualities and virtues and also would be blessed with longevity.

Other opinions

Vagbhata has given similar views as that of Charaka. He says that non-fulfillment of longings of mother expressed through fetus causes vitiation of vata, this vata causes abnormalities in fetus. When dauhruda is fulfilled, woman would give birth to a child who is virtuous and who would live long.

Bhavamishra has given similar description of douhruda as that of Sudhruta. He mentions that born child would be impotent if desires of dauhrda are not fulfilled.

According to Harita, when dauhrda is fulfilled, born child will be –

  • Rupavan – handsome
  • Shura – courageous, valiant
  • Pandita – intelligent
  • Sheelavan – well behaved, having good character

Specific dauhrudas and their relation to character of child

As already specified, it is mandatory to fulfill desires of dauhruda for comprehensive wellness of both mother and child, especially for proper overall growth and development of fetus.

Sushruta has stated that manifestation of dauhrudas in mother is based on deeds of past life. Same dauhrdas reflect happenings in near future in present birth of child.

In Dauhrda stage, as it is said that mother expresses various wishes which is coded language of wishes of fetus. Wishes are also reflective of something to happen or what lay destined to child to be born or about characters which would develop in child.

Sushruta has given an elaborate explanation of specific dauhrudas or longings of mother and relationship of those wishes to characters which could be seen in child after birth of child.

Quick checklist of dauhrudas and their relationship with characters of child (Ref – compilation from Sushruta Shaareera 3/22-28 and Bhavaprakasha Prathama Purva 3)

Dauhruda – Desires of mother Characters of the child as related to the dauhruda
To look at the king Child would be rich, very lucky
To wear silk garments and ornaments Child would be fond of ornaments and looks handsome
To live in ashrama or hermitage (pious place) Capable of controlling the senses and religious
To look at an idol of a deity Extremely good and courteous
To look at wild animals Ferocious, ruthless, wild
To eat meat of godha (iguana) Sleepiness, nature of concealing everything in his own heart without revealing it to anyone, or becomes a runner
To eat cow’s meat Becomes might, with good endurance and tolerance capacity
To eat buffalo’s meat Brave, has red eyes and excessive body hair
To eat hog’s meat Sleepy, courageous, bold
To eat deer’s meat Industrious and hard working, swift runner, always moves in the forests
To eat meat of srmara (Big bear or fast running deer) Terrified and anxious
To eat meat of partridge Poltroon, child who fears for everything

These are only examples. Besides these, what-so-ever untold things are desired by woman, child to be born would reflect features, conduct and behavior accordingly i. e. in accordance with wishes or dauhruda.

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email / Skype

2 comments on “Pregnancy Cravings – Reasons, Ayurvedic Explanation

  • admirerofAyurveda

    04/06/2015 - 10:55 am

    Hi doc,
    Nice article.. I am a great admirer of ayurveda but sometime get the doubt like this one…In allopathy just in 6 weeks, they show the heart beat of the fetus and make us hear it also…..So is what Ayurveda saying is right about when the heart is formed?….

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      16/07/2015 - 6:22 pm

      1. When it comes to monthly fetal developments, there are a lot of differences between Ayurveda and modern explanations.
      2. In the above context, the heart that Ayurvedic text books also may be correlated to mind.

      Reply to comment

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