Why do pregnant women have a bionic sense of smell?

October 18, 2013 12:00 AM by

Have you ever been around a pregnant co-worker who asked you to take your lunch to the break room or tone your perfume down a bit? While it might've seemed annoying at the time, now that you're a first time mother getting ready for baby, you can probably see where she was coming from. During a pregnancy, smells that used to go totally undetected or scents that you always enjoyed might start to really offend your nose. What's up with this bionic sense of smell?

Blame it on the hormones … again
What can't be blamed on pregnancy hormones? Once again, it's these troublemakers that are causing your nose to be really picky lately. Specifically, estrogen is responsible, and studies have shown that heightened levels can even affect the olfactory senses of non-pregnant women. Scientists aren't really sure how and if estrogen creates any actual changes in the nose or brain that would result in the increased sense of smell in pregnant women, but it's clear that something must be at play.

Levels of sensitivity differ for everyone
Pregnancy affects every woman's body differently, so there's no telling exactly what your nose's opinion will be of certain smells. Some women find things they never found pleasant to be literally gut-churning once they're carrying a baby, while others find themselves loving certain aromas that never used to tickle their fancy. There's nothing you can do to avoid those nausea-inducing smells until you know what they are, unfortunately, but there are plenty of ways you can steer clear of them once you do.

Take action to protect yourself
A heightened sense of smell has been connected to morning sickness, as it's often unpleasant ones that make your stomach start doing somersaults. You can reduce your chances of coming in contact with scents that you know cause problems by avoiding foods and drinks that trigger those feelings at all costs. You may also want to wash your clothes more frequently, as the fibers can retain scents and make them linger for longer than you'd like them to. And, like that co-worker you once had, don't be afraid to ask people (nicely, of course) if they could be considerate of your super-smelling nose. Most people know that pregnant women have delicate senses of smell, so they'll be happy to oblige and leave their tuna fish sandwiches or plumeria hand lotion at home.

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