Super Pregnant Women


During pregnancy, the changes in a woman’s senses are largely attributed to hormones. Pregnant women feel that everything has turned upside down. When women become pregnant, their estrogen level increases, most prominently heightening their sense of smell. In some cases, even vision changes during pregnancy.

On the other hand, one-quarter of the women reported abnormal taste sensitivity in the early stages of pregnancy, including a heightened sensitivity to bitter items, and a lowered sensitivity to salty items. Nevertheless, heightened sensitivity to bitter items such as coffee may be the body's way of protecting the unborn baby. Conversely, decreased sensitivity to salt may help women consume more salt, which in turn makes them thirstier, helping them consume the fluids and various nutrients they need to support the fetus.

Super Smell

During pregnancy, almost every pregnant woman becomes more sensitive and reactive to the scents around them, describing a heightened awareness and sensitivity to a variety of odors.

Although there is little consistent and reliable data on the sense of smell of pregnant women, the vast majority report a perceived increase in their own sensitivity to odors. Scientists have hypothesized that, for some women, it is this heightened sense of smell that leads to morning sickness. One study even found that women born without a sense of smell—a condition called anosmia—do not suffer from morning sickness when pregnant.

According to a 2004 study, published in the Chemical Senses Journal, over 40% of pregnant women tested in the first trimester reported increased sensitivity to the smell of cooking odors, cigarette smoke, spoiled food, and perfumes.

There are some strategies that may help some women dealing with smell disorders. Indeed you cannot cut off your nose, but you can try to avoid scents that drive you crazy, especially those that ramp up your morning sickness symptoms.

  • Cook and eat only foods you can stand to smell;
  • Leave your windows open whenever possible to banish cooking or musty odors;
  • Wash your clothes more often than usual, since fibers tend to hold onto odors;
  • Switch to unscented or lightly scented toiletries, cleaning products, etc.;
  • Ask the people around you to be extra considerate: request that friends and colleagues go easy on the fragrance, and of course, avoid people who are smoking;
  • Try to surround yourself with those scents—(if there are any)—that actually make you feel better. Mint, lemon, ginger and other herbs are more likely to soothe your nausea than make it worse.

Another way to deal with an aversion to certain smells is to introduce new foods as replacements. For instance, if the scent of scrambled eggs sends you heaving at breakfast, try replacing it with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. If you used to love tuna sandwiches for lunch, replace the fish with turkey or chicken.

You can also keep a pleasant-smelling air freshener on hand to battle noxious odors. Just make sure the air freshener scent does not upset your stomach as well!

Super Taste

Most women experience changes in their sense of taste during pregnancy, preferring saltier and sweeter foods. Dysgeusia—a decrease in the ability to taste—is most commonly experienced during the first trimester of pregnancy. Some women also experience a metallic taste in the mouth during pregnancy, which can aggravate nausea and may indicate a nutrient imbalance.

Certain taste preferences may vary by trimester, and although many women experience a dulled sense of taste for a short period of time postpartum; however, they typically regain full gustatory capability.

While taste disorders are typically associated with the loss of taste, a taste disorder that heightens your sense of taste is a problem that affects most of pregnant women around the world.

Obesity among many pregnant women can be linked to a heightened sense of taste, as food that are high in sugar and fat pack strong flavors. This craving for flavorful junk food is due to dysfunction of opioid receptors in the brain that drive the palatability of foods.

Here are some tips that may help some women dealing with taste disorders during pregnancy.

Brush and floss your teeth regularly, and keep your tongue clean to eliminate germs and bacteria in the mouth;
Eat citrus fruits such as orange and lemon, and foods marinated in vinegar such as pickles, as they produce saliva in excess, which washes off the bad taste in mouth, and keeps the mouth and teeth clean;
Gargling with diluted solutions of baking soda and water neutralizes the acids in the mouth, thus relieving the metallic taste;
Sucking on mints, sour foods like lemons, or sour candies seems to help some women;
Drinking much water is one of the best remedies for metallic taste in mouth.

Super Vision

Some pregnant women experience vision changes as well, characterized by increased myopia—aka nearsightedness. Although researchers do not know the precise biological mechanisms behind changes in vision, most women return to pre-pregnancy vision after giving birth.

Common changes in vision during pregnancy include blurriness and discomfort with contact lenses. Pregnant women often experience an increase in intraocular pressure, and women experiencing preeclampsia or a diabetic pregnancy may be at an elevated risk of rare eye problems such as retinal detachment or vision loss.

Scientists debate whether a pregnant woman’s heightened senses serve any benefit to her or to her unborn baby. Some researchers believe that sensitivity to odors and taste causing morning sickness benefits the mother because she is rejecting foods containing chemicals and toxins harmful to the fetus.

Scientists who support this theory say it explains why pregnant women are sensitive to the smell and taste of cigarettes, alcohol, bitter vegetables, and caffeinated beverages. Some data shows that women who experience nausea have a lower rate of miscarriage, suggesting that the nose is doing its job in keeping the baby safe.


*The original article was published in SCIplanet printed magazine, Summer 2013 issue.

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