One surprising quirk of pregnancy is a heightened sense of smell, a nose that is much more sensitive than usual and can no longer stand those pleasant smells you used to like. With the help of Mama Mio’s pregnancy expert Becky Milsted, we look at how pregnancy affects your sense of smell and how to deal with its undesirable symptoms.
Why can you smell everything much more strongly during pregnancy?
The primary cause of increased smell sensitivity is down to pregnancy hormones, especially oestrogen, says Becky. It will usually occur during the first trimester, and can make morning sickness much worse.
“It’s been speculated that this strange side-effect is actually your body’s way of protecting you and your baby from foods and items that it thinks may be harmful to you!” she explains.
It’s more common than you’d expect, but not all women with be afflicted with this sensitivity. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, “be prepared to avoid certain foods and products during your pregnancy,” adds Becky. Your new sense of smell is likely to stay with you for throughout your pregnancy.
Fortunately, your nose will return to normal once baby is born. Your hormones will start returning to more or less pre pregnancy levels too, particularly after you’ve finished breastfeeding.
You can’t stand normal everyday smells. What’s the best way to deal with it?
At first it’s going to be tough to know what’s normal and what you’re now repulsed by, until you’ve encountered different smells. “The key is trial and error,” explains Becky. “If you notice that your morning omelette is making you queasy, try switching to a muesli or toast.”
You’ll learn what works for you, but it really varies from person to person what will make you feel queasy or unwell. Try your best to avoid things that you know you can no longer bear to smell. Remind yourself that you’ll be back to normal after the birth.
If you experience an undesirable smell, Becky recommends a simple tip involving mint. Since the herb is known for its calming properties, “try sprinkling a few drops of mint essential oil on a tissue and carrying it around with you. Anytime you start to feel nauseous, take a small whiff of the oil (peppermint is best!) to settle your stomach.”
Don’t suffer through anything that makes you uncomfortable
We all know that pregnancy can be a really tough journey, so don’t make things any worse for yourself by being polite. “If your friend picks an Indian restaurant for dinner and the smell of spices is making your stomach churn, there’s nothing wrong with asking to go elsewhere,” says Becky. People will most likely be understanding about the issue, so you shouldn’t need to put on a brave face.
Don’t forget to carry around your peppermint-scented tissue. If a smell appears unexpectedly, you’ll be covered if you start feeling nauseous.
Should your health and beauty regime be fragrance-free?
This all comes down to you, explains Becky. While some smells may make you feel unwell, others may help to settle and soothe your stomach. Reintroduce your nose to your beauty and skincare essentials and find out what works.
“In general, opting for fragrance-free is a safe option if you’re worried about your easily offended sense of smell,” she says. Your skin may be more sensitive and reactive to fragrance too, so choose something that has sensitive skin in mind too.
Fortunately Mama Mio’s bestselling Tummy Rub Butter now comes in fragrance-free version and is specially formulated for sensitive skin. For us, the Tummy Rub is a holy-grail moisturiser for use during pregnancy. It helps to prevent stretch marks and reduces itchiness, as well as keeping skin hydrated. The fragrance-free version should keep you nausea-free too!