Heightened Sense of Smell during Pregnancy

A pregnant woman holding her nose

It is usually observed that along with the numerous bodily and mental changes that pregnancy brings about within a woman, there are a few markers that are very strong hints of pregnancy having commenced. Morning sickness and a change in taste are the usual ones, which is also accompanied by a surprisingly refined sense of smell that can be as close as being a superpower of sorts. Women might begin to sense even the slightest fragrances or odours, which is a blessing as well as a curse if the smell isn’t a good one.

When does Sense of Smell in Women Start to Heighten during Pregnancy?

The body begins to experience the presence of a new entity inside it and starts carrying out changes as per the biological procedures to make way for the new journey. All of these processes usually commence within the first trimester of the pregnancy, which is mostly when women start feeling these differences, too. The strength of smell varies for each woman but it tends to get stronger around this time. This is probably also the reason for triggering nausea in pregnant women since research has shown that women who are born without the sense of smell, do not face morning sickness during their pregnancy.

What Causes Strong Sense of Smell during Pregnancy?

A woman's nose

The physical changes that occur in the structure of the body are well accepted by women since that is all done to make space for the baby. But how does the sense of smell fit into this? There are a few reasons why this tends to happen, too.

1. Protection of Self

This heightened sense of smell can be traced back to the prehistoric ages when humans did not have safe spaces and had to combat dangerous animals or other human beings all the time. The presence of a new lifeform in the body triggered the protective mechanisms present in it, which included the sense of smell to detect any predator or danger and keep yourself safe. Furthermore, it also assists the mother in sniffing out any toxic food items before consumption that could be harmful to her and the child.

2. Blood Circulation Boost

Within the various internal changes in the body, one of the key ones is the increment in the quantity of plasma that is present in the blood. This is essential to be able to support the various bodily functions, and the body switches gear to make this transfer faster. Inevitably, this results in a lot of blood being passed to your brain in larger quantities, which means any scents or aromas that are sensed by the nerves in your nose, are instantly transferred to the brain.

3. Pregnancy Hormones

The usual suspect, hormones are pretty much responsible for most of the differences experienced by pregnant women. Estrogen, hCG, and numerous other hormones get a boost resulting in morning sickness. A heightened sense of smell further aggravates it due to the hormones running amok within your body.

Tips to Cope with Heightened Sense of Smell during Pregnancy

At times, this superpower can turn into a needless headache since strong smells can end up getting uncomfortable after a while. There are a few techniques that can help you handle this situation well.

1. Keep Good Smells Closer

It might be your favourite soap, an old book, or any other smell that is gentle and calming and allows you to keep your morning sickness in check or just make you feel better. Make sure that you carry it along with you in a purse wherever you go.

2. Reduce Nausea Triggers

Morning sickness triggers are usually olfactory since any smell can make you feel like throwing up. Reduce the chances of that nausea by sticking to your meal times, having regular supplements for Vitamin B, drinking herbal teas that are good for you, and so on.

3. Stay Away from Smoke

Inhaling cigarette smoke indirectly poses harm to your child, too. And a heightened sense of smell can make it even worse. Make sure to keep away from it as well as from chemicals that are known to smell bad or emit harmful gases, too.

4. Opt for Ventilation

Make sure your house has a lot of flowing air as much as possible. Keep windows open and look for opportunities that allow cross ventilation. In winters, try to step out for a while with a sweater if needed.

5. Wash Clothes Regularly

Most women tend to reuse clothes during pregnancy to avoid the chore of washing them repeatedly. However, you might be able to smell the sweat and other odours quite easily now. Therefore, use a nice gentle detergent to clean them often.

6. Fridge Neutralization

We might not notice this in everyday life but our fridge does tend to have a smell that can get disgusting after a while. Ensure your fridge gets a cleaning and keep a box of baking soda if you can to neutralize the smell.

7. Go for Neutral Smells

Opting for shampoos, soaps, or detergents with a strong flowery smell might not be your best bet. Instead, go for the ones that don’t have any scents or have a very light fragrance.

Can you Prevent a Heightened Sense of Smell?

Unfortunately, there isn’t. It is one of the many natural changes that occur in your body and will fade away only after you’ve completed your pregnancy. It is best to make peace with it.

When does this Increased Sense of Smell Go Away?

This, too, varies from person to person. For some women, the sensitivity reduces as they progress during pregnancy. For others, this increased sense of smell might stay throughout and fade away completely once childbirth has occurred.

Types of Smell Pregnant Women should Avoid

There are a few odours that a pregnant woman should definitely keep away from for her own good.

1. Detergent Powder

Using the ones that have added scents to it can easily get overwhelming for you triggering nausea.

2. Areas that Stink

Public toilets, garbage bins, and other places that usually stink will smell even stronger than before.

3. Foods that Smell

Eggs, fish, or cheese have a typical smell to them that, when pregnant, can be disorienting and uncomfortable for you.

4. Pet Animals

If you have a dog or a cat, the natural smell of their body can get too strong to keep them in the house.

For a woman, her sensitive sense of smell during pregnancy is a double-edged sword. At times, it can enhance the taste of certain food items or end up in triggering nausea. Nevertheless, keeping safe smells close to you and avoiding the ones that disgust you is the easiest way to navigate around this situation.

Also Read:

Vaginal Smell during Pregnancy
Body Odour While Pregnant – Do I Smell?