A pregnant woman covers her nose and gags at the smell of her husband's popcorn. She is suffering from a heightened sense of smell during pregnancy.

Heightened Sense Of Smell During Pregnancy (It Stinks)

Pregnancy can come with some pretty undesirable side effects such as morning sickness, heartburn, and bloating. But what about the lesser talked about symptoms such as a heightened sense of smell?

What Is Hyperosmia?

Hyperosmia is when you experience a heightened sense of smell and develop a hypersensitive nose. Smells that once were very faint or even undetectable to your nose, are now aggressive, aggravating and downright unbearable.

While this may seem like a cool superpower, while pregnant, it can lead to increased nausea, vomiting, and headaches. (Not so cool huh?)

What Causes A Heightened Sense Of Smell During Pregnancy?

Just like other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, a heightened sense of smell could be blamed on the hormonal changes occurring in your body.

Research has shown that 95.8% of pregnant women studied had olfactory dysfunction in their first and third trimesters.

While pregnancy is just one cause of hyperosmia, it’s also common for those with autoimmune disorders, allergies, and asthma.

A woman stands in front of a plate of donuts and pinches nose to signal that she is having an unpleasant reaction to the smell. This could be caused by hyperosmia.

When Does It Typically Start—& Does It End?

Every woman is different, so the chances of you experiencing a heightened sense of smell during your pregnancy isn’t a guarantee.

From my own personal experience, I was able to detect smells beginning as early as 8 weeks pregnant all the way through my second trimester. However, like with any uncomfortable pregnancy symptom, it doesn’t last forever. Yours may end early on in your pregnancy or persist until delivery, but just know your nose will go back to normal very shortly after birth.

Ways To Manage Hyperosmia During Pregnancy

My smell sensitivity was through the roof and it lead to increased nausea, headaches, and a general feeling of being uncomfortable. However, there are ways to help manage your heightened sense of smell, including:

  • Identify trigger smells. The once sweet smell of cookies baking in the oven or fresh brewed cup of coffee in the morning, may now cause you to gag. Pregnancy does weird things, and you may just need to forgo your favorite foods and beverages until after your little one arrives.
  • Switch to unscented household products. Your shampoo, body wash, or even laundry detergent could be wrecking havoc on your senses. If you find that “fresh scents” are making you feel worse, you should switch to unscented soaps and cleaners temporarily.
  • Get some fresh air. Open up windows to let lingering odors out of your home. You may even benefit from taking a walk outside (that is unless the smell of fresh grass or flowers are a trigger for you). In which case, hang in there mama, it will pass!
  • Seal your room. When it was time for my husband to cook food, I would go into the bedroom and line the bottom of the door with a wet towel. I know it sounds weird, but this helped drastically when my sense of smell was extra sensitive.
  • Ask others in your home to be accommodating. While bothersome, you may need to ask others in your home to be sensitive to your needs. Whether that means cooking at times your not home, cooking outside, or putting a pause on salmon night for a while, you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to feel comfortable in your home while pregnant.

A heightened sense of smell stinks (literally) while pregnant. Did you find these tips helpful? What helped you tackle your supersonic nose? Let me know in the comments below!

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