Will my sense of smell change now that I’m pregnant?
It’s possible that it will.
About two thirds of women say that their sense of smell changes in pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. In fact, it’s often thought to be one of the earliest signs that you’re pregnant.
You may find that unpleasant odours are more intense than usual, and smells that you once loved may now make your nose wrinkle. Some pregnant women even find the smell of their partner repulsive!
If your newfound superpower is bothering you, you’ll be pleased to know that this is only a temporary change. Your sense of smell should return to normal after you give birth, if not before.
Why is my sense of smell stronger in pregnancy?
It’s not clear why women react differently to certain odours when they’re pregnant. Some studies have linked changes in the sense of smell to rises in the levels of pregnancy hormones in the first trimester.
The first trimester is when your baby is most vulnerable. So one theory is that your sense of smell is protecting him from potential threats.
For example, studies have found that women react strongly to the smell of alcohol, cigarettes and coffee in early pregnancy. Nicotine, alcohol and too much caffeine can all be harmful during pregnancy.
While the difference in your sense of smell probably feels huge to you, in reality the change may be quite subtle. In fact, there’s limited evidence that your sense of smell changes at all!
That could simply be because the tests they’ve used so far aren’t sensitive enough to pick up any changes. For now, your unique nose remains a mystery of pregnancy.
Can certain smells trigger my morning sickness?
Sense of smell does seem to be linked with pregnancy sickness. About three quarters of women experience morning sickness during pregnancy, and many say particular odours are a trigger.
If you’re already feeling a bit queasy, then a strong whiff of something unpleasant could be enough to tip you over the edge. The next time you come across that smell your brain may automatically associate it with being sick, triggering your nausea once more.
However, the specific smells that mums-to-be say they’re most sensitive to seems to differ from woman to woman.
Interestingly, women born without a sense of smell (a condition called anosmia) often don’t suffer from morning sickness.