For a few weeks now since experiencing morning sickness, I have been experiencing something else- a new found superpower, aka a heightened sense of smell! At 11 weeks pregnant, it was becoming more apparent that I could smell anything and everything meters away from me.
Even the faintest of smells could irritate my nose and I would be immediately turned off, losing my sense of appetite. Not only did I find that I had a heightened sense of smell, but my taste buds were more sharper than usual. It made me start to wonder- do women gain superpowers during pregnancy?
Do Pregnant Women Have Superpowers?
It’s a strange feeling to be able to smell from such a far distance and for my husband on the other hand to not even notice the smell at all (even when he was right in the room of the smell). I began to really taste food, I mean really. Strangely enough, it never occurred to me that perhaps the new wave of estrogen pumping through my body as a result of the pregnancy was creating some sort of weird reaction and created a better, more stronger ability to smell and taste. What was particularly difficult was any faint smells luring from the bathroom. Needless to say, I made sure that every smell that the baby and therefore I did not like, would quickly disappear in any means necessary.
According to a number of studies, women do in fact experience a heighten sense of smell due to the estrogen during pregnancy. Call it what you will, to me this means as pregnant women, we in fact do have short term superpowers. Maybe not the crime stopping kind of superpowers, but still really cool. Although it may not last the entire pregnancy nor will it last throughout the rest of my life, it’s a pretty cool experience to have.
Pros and cons of your new superpowers
I think one of the biggest benefits of having such a strong sense of smell is that fact that you are able to gravitate towards types of foods that your body (and baby) are interested in. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked past bakeries, stores and restaurants not knowing what I wanted to eat and having little to no appetite and then suddenly smell something in the distance that I must have. It was like I was being pulled towards it and my mind would think about it all day long.
The benefit of having a stronger sense of taste and smell is this new found experience of eating. Suddenly things taste better than before and it’s almost like you are indulging in some fine dinning dishes but really most of the foods you’ll end up eating are basic and plain. This was particularly helpful during morning sickness, when let’s face it, can be really challenging to have any kind of appetite.
On the downside of things, it can work against you. The smell of cooked quinoa for example was a night I vividly remember. It was the night before we flew out to New York embarking on our gradual move towards South East Asia. I was just under 13 weeks. Unknowingly, the husband had been cooking quinoa as part of his healthy dinner but for some reason, the smell lingering in the air meters away from me, smelt awful- it smelt like an odor of trash and mold. It turned me off from any food and as a result, when I took my first bite of my egg sandwich I ended up throwing up half a rock melon which I had eaten earlier that day. I was beside myself and could not muster up an ounce of energy to eat. I also began having a migraine and knew that this baby does not like quinoa. Since then, I’ve never touched, seen or smelt quinoa. The baby definitely always wins.
3 Ways to Deal with Heighten Sense of Smell
There are a number of things I did to help ease the new found superpower I possessed. Here are three easy and helpful ways to deal with the new found superpower.
1. Eat more simple and listen to your body
A huge part of dealing with the new heighten sense of smell while pregnant is to figure out for yourself a new diet plan- one that works for you not against! If your body is reacting to a particular smell or taste in a negative way, it’s always best to avoid any foods that remind you of it. Keep it out of your diet completely. This may be tricky, particularly if you are trying to find a healthy balance of foods to eat or if the foods you normally enjoy and love eating are major turn offs.
For me, it was a strange mix of smells that would trigger the worst headaches and symptoms of morning sickness. The smell of butter for example would often smell overdue and I could not bare the thought of eating anything cooked with butter. The texture of oily foods was also another interesting one, where I would literally be turned off eating completely. Foods that I loved just a few days before being pregnant like avocados, would suddenly be on the list of foods I was not longer interested in for the entire pregnancy.
Finding the right balance is important as you want to make sure that the baby is getting enough nutrients even if you are going through morning sickness. This may change week after week, particularly if you are also experiencing morning sickness and have special dietary needs. I found that listening to my body was the best way to determine what my body and the baby liked and what would be a complete no no. This included the occasional cravings that I was determined to get my hands on.
2. Start thinking clean
This is the perfect time to start looking at the products you use on a daily basis and assess whether or not they are any good for you when you are pregnant. There are a lot of resources online to help guide you through some of the harmful chemicals that might be found in household products, beauty products and cleaning products. These chemicals may affect the health of your baby but also enhance any smells that are unappealing to the nose.
It might be a great time to start buying a range of organic products to replace them. Make sure you avoid anything that has a perfume scent or is heavily scented. Even if you might enjoy the smell, it might change in a few days unexpectedly.
3. Let others know of your superpower
Having a discussion with your partner about what smells and foods that are unappealing is also important. Often unknowingly and unintentionally, it can be the partner that can trigger a long night of vomiting and headaches. It’s always good to keep the communication lines going and to involve your partner to get as much support and help through this adjusting period of your superpower. This goes for co-workers, family members and friends. Everyone will understand how sensitive your nose and taste buds can be during this time, so there’s no need to be shy or embarrassed about it at all. Talking about any issues or smells that are unforgiving can help prevent any mishaps and long nights in the bathroom- and that is something worth fighting for, trust me!
Your sense of smell can be a tricky one to learn how to. I had my experience at 11 weeks pregnant and it definitely took me a few days to figure out the best ways to make it a benefit.