Womens Health

Ew, What's that Smell?

The further on you go into your pregnancy, the weirder things gets. Morning sickness you expected, but itchy palms, restless leg syndrome, and drooling were not what you expected. Now here's one more: a heightened sensitivity to smells. And it comes right when your stomach is so iffy. It has you running to the porcelain altar much too much.

So, is it your imagination or is it the real deal; some kind of pregnancy super-power? And what's a poor girl to do? You're thinking: I can't take nine months of this!

First of all, relax. It happens to lots of pregnant ladies. Like almost all the other strange and not-so-strange symptoms you've experienced, it's due to increasing levels of the hormone estrogen that all but floods your system during pregnancy. This increased estrogen makes a mountain out of a small scent, causing your head to experience something not unlike whiplash. Whoa!

You're Not Alone

Most pregnant women, do, to some extent, notice a change in how they sense smells. Some researchers even believe that morning sickness is due at least in part, to this heightened sensitivity to odors. The data is persuasive when you consider that pregnant women who were born with no sense of smell, anosmia, never experience morning sickness.

Now What?

It's true that there's not much you can do about this constant assault on your nostrils (and your stomach), but you can try some simple coping strategies that may just get you through to delivery without your going completely batty.

*Avoid cooking and handling foods you don't care to eat or that have a strong, unpleasant odor. Dollars to doughnuts, you shouldn't be coming anywhere near Brussels sprouts.

*Air out your house whenever the weather permits—keeping your windows open should help keep musty odors away and freshen up the air in your home.

*Wash your clothes each time you wear them since odors can cling to fabric.

*Whenever you find them, buy unscented products. That includes toilet paper, cleaning products, and toiletries.

*Let people know about your situation and ask them if they can lighten up on the perfumes and colognes until after you deliver. Tell them it's not their smell, it's just the pregnancy. Show them this article.

*Avoid situations where there is cigarette smoke. This is always a good idea, but even more so now that the smell makes you gag and choke.

*If there are scents that please and soothe you, make an attempt to bring them into your surroundings. Some of the good-smelling herbs that are known to soothe a queasy stomach are ginger, mint, and lemon.

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