"I was feeling fine just doing the dishes. I opened my husband's tupperware container that he brought home from lunch and the horrid smell sent me running to the bathroom!"
"I took one whiff of the green pepper- and onion-laced fajitas in the Mexican restaurant and I felt like I was going to faint."
"An over-applied men's cologne did it. It assaulted me! I just couldn't get within a few feet of that man without gagging."
"I absolutely cannot subject myself to the smell of cigarette smoke lately. It makes me nauseated within a few minutes."
These comments are sentiments only the female gender can truly understand. All of them have one thing in common: they come from a pregnant nose. Only during pregnancy can a woman detect scent from miles away. It makes for an adventurous nine months for certain, and possibly adds to the richness of her life as well. When else will the nose be as keen as a cat's? Or the world as rich in odor? An abundance of divine smells embrace her. Scents like fresh cut grass, lettuce, ginger, lemons, mint, rosemary, fresh cut flowers, and her beloved's skin can inspire a pleasure in her she has never known. On the contrary, scents that normally evade or seemingly disappear on her are the source of nagging discomfort and illness. The only solace is to completely remove the source of the odor, take a stroll in fresh air or bury her nose in an orange (which I have done quite often). In fact, the sense of smell is so closely linked to morning sickness during pregnancy that one study found anosmic (possessing no sense of smell) women never experience pregnancy-associated nausea.
What is the culprit for this heightened sense of smell? Hormones - those lovely chemicals responsible for sheltering the baby, keeping it cozy, warm and growing inside. Estrogen in this case is the primary offender. This essential female hormone is abundantly excreted in a pregnant woman's body. As unpleasant as the experience can be for Mama, estrogen has been shown in studies to be responsible for fetal maturation and maintaining the pregnancy. A very important role it possesses, indeed!
My personal experience has elicited the following smell aversions: every fragrance in my collection (much to my chagrin), meat, cigarettes (either freshly lit or lingering on a smoker's body), coffee, garlic, hairspray and most heavily scented cosmetics, my husband's Gris Clair by Serge Lutens (my apologies Mr. Lutens!) and many men's colognes, cleaning products, and ultimately anything with a very strong scent. Fortunately I have not had to rush to the bathroom. I simply avert my nose, leave the room ... and .... do not wear most of my perfumes. What an astonishing outcome and one that I never expected!
My personal theory says that these hormonal influences also protect our baby from noxious chemicals and other harmful substances. Why else would we cringe, vomit, or gag when faced with scents we could easily endure pre-pregnancy? These reactions require immediate response. It is as if our baby is reaching up and directing our physiological reactions, saying "Mom! Stop sniffing! Now! It's too much for me!" A beautiful thing is Mother Nature. I respect her immensely.
Fortunately, my estrogen levels must have dropped recently since I can endure more and more scents from my collection. This must be one of the benefits of being in the second half of my pregnancy. However, the amount I spray is a fraction of what I used to and I can smell most scents on my skin until I shower them off. This might be a good time to re-try scents that seemed to disappear on me before - scents like Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle (am I redeemed now?), Maitre Parfumer et Gantier Soie Rouge and Estee Lauder Azuree Oil. I will let you know how that experiment goes.
For the previously or currently pregnant, what were your smell aversions? What smells did you love?