Pregnancy and a heightened sense of smell

It’s common to experience a changing and heightened sense of smell during pregnancy, why does this happen and what can you do?

Pregnancy and a heighted sense of smell

Changes in your sense of smell during pregnancy

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A heightened sense of smell can be an early indicator of pregnancy. The scent of something that you once loved - like a curry, a body spray, even a partner - now has you running away for cover. Even the thought of it makes you feel a little nauseous!

Why are there certain smells that make you want to heave in pregnancy? Well, it’s largely down to your hormones - oestrogen and you can also get a metallic taste in your mouth. Be warned, these hormones kick in very quickly so a change in your sense of smell may be noticeable even before a missed period.

Why does your sense of smell change?

During early pregnancy, your baby is at its most vulnerable and one theory is our heightened sense of smell is a protective measure. Some women have strong negative reactions to odours like cigarettes, alcohol or caffeine - which could be your body’s way of saying ‘no thanks’ to these products so that the baby is kept safe from the harm that they could cause - well a cup of tea or coffee is probably fine but many wine lovers find they go off their favourite tipple even before they know they’re expecting!

Some women only notice a slight change in their sense of smell, while others find certain scents are overwhelming - but most find this returns to normal once the baby arrives.

Because of the links between smell and taste, an aversion to certain foods can go hand-in-hand with a change in your sense of smell. If you can’t bear the whiff of the curry, it’s unlikely that you are going to enjoy its flavour.

Many women who suffer from morning sickness find a bout of nausea is often triggered by a bad smell. And interestingly, women born without a sense of smell - a condition called anosmia - do not suffer from morning sickness.

You at 11 weeks pregna

What can you do about your changing senses?

When it comes to foods to avoid, prevention is better than cure. If something is so unappealing that it brings on a bout of sickness, then it’s best avoided. If you can’t bear the thought of your once favourite broccoli - even though you know it’s good for you - then try a new, alternative green veg. 

Most food aversions and morning sickness only last for the first trimester, so it’s unlikely that there will be any nutritional deficiency.
With the nasty niffs, again avoidance is key. 

Here are some steps you can take that may help:

• Arrange your fridge so that you don’t get hit by a bad whiff every time you open the door - if your partner insists on not giving up his smelly cheese, airtight containers are great for masking the aroma. A cup of bicarbonate of soda in the fridge is great at neutralising smells.
• It may be worth surrounding yourself with soothing aromas like lemon, ginger or mint - if you find one you like, you could put a few drops onto a tissue and carry it round for emergencies!
• Switch to unscented toiletries and cleaning products.

Pregnancy and a heightened sense of smell