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Does Urine Smell Stronger During Pregnancy? An Expert Explains

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Pregnancy can come with tons of weird changes. You may see extra facial hair, notice discoloration of your skin, and your feet may swell like watermelons. But another change you might find, or smell, is in your urine. Pregnancy hormones can make you pee a lot, but does urine smell stronger during pregnancy?

Dr. Amy Gilliland, Doula Research Fellow at UW Madison Center for Family and Child Well Being, and DONA-approved Doula Trainer, tells Romper in an interview that in the early stages of pregnancy, hCG levels can cause urine to smell pungent and different, but the strength of urinary smell is usually dependent on what you’re eating and how much fluid you’re drinking.

“The more concentrated the urine is, the more likely it is to have a distinct smell,” explains Gilliland, “so if a pregnant person isn’t drinking enough water, the urine is more likely to be concentrated and strong smelling.” During pregnancy, she explains, there’s 20 percent more blood volume circulating in your body, so you need to drink more water for replenishment.

What you’re eating could also be contributing to the smell of your urine. Gilliland notes that some foods, like garlic, onions, or asparagus, can cause noticeable differences in urine smell, but they can also change the smell of your vulva and its secretions. So these could also be factors contributing to intensely scented pee.

Another possibility, explained New Kids Center, is that your urine may not have changed, but due to the increased production of progesterone during pregnancy, your nose may become more sensitive to smells. The article noted that along with this increased sensitivity, and the increasing amounts of hCG in your urine, you may notice a change.

Because pregnancy requires more hydration to keep your pee normal and less concentrated, Gilliland suggests using thirst as an indicator of how much water to drink, but says you should try drinking a glass of water before having any caffeinated drinks. “Coffee, tea, and caffeinated sodas are also diuretics, which means they pull water out of the tissues into urine and are dehydrating,” explains Gilliland, “so it’s especially important to drink even more water to balance out dehydrating beverages or in hot temperatures.”

Strong smelling urine (or just a highly sensitive nose) during pregnancy is just one of those wonderful blessings all pregnant moms get to experience. Luckily, pregnancy doesn’t last forever, and soon you’ll move on to sniffing out strong smelling diapers.