Is there anything worse than a bad smell? Whether a stranger's body odor on a closely packed subway car or the fishy scent lingering in the office microwave, certain smells make you gag even if you're not pregnant. But pregnancy often brings a heightened sensitivity to smell, and even normally innocuous things like scrambled eggs can send you dry heaving to the bathroom. In order to make it through your pregnancy without living in a sensory bubble, you need to know what to do if smells make you gag while pregnant.
Over email, Romper spoke with Dr. Kameelah Phillips, OB-GYN and founder of OBaby Maternity, about why some smells make you nauseous while pregnant and what you can do about it. "There is no clear reason why pregnant women are more sensitive to smells, but an increase in the hormones hCG and estrogen likely are involved," Phillips says. "Evolution also plays a role. Before we had refrigeration, our nose helped us avoid potentially toxic or spoiled foods. The sensitivity to smell may be an evolutionary holdover from the stone age."
To minimize your exposure to offending smells, try to avoid the most common culprits: meat, eggs, seafood, fried foods, cigarette smoke, and perfumes. Phillips also notes that a range of foods can provoke nausea in pregnant women. Once you figure out the scents that trigger an upset stomach for you, try to limit your exposure as much as possible. If there's one time in your life you can get away with being a diva and asking people not to wear perfume around you and the like, it's during your pregnancy.
Besides avoiding bad smells, Phillips offers the following tips for coping with nausea during pregnancy:
"Ginger candy and tea is also helpful for minimizing nausea from offending smells. Mint-based oils can help reduce smell-induced nausea, too. There are medications your doctor can prescribe to help reduce nausea, and frequently washing clothes that can trap odors, along with small frequent meals, can help keep nausea down."
Ah, pregnancy. It's truly a beautiful (and smelly) time. But as long as you know how to manage your nausea (and your gagging), you'll make it through just fine. Maybe skip heading into Bath and Body Works this year though.