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Your five senses may seem to shift into overdrive during pregnancy. Foods you love may start to taste funny, certain smells may get smellier, you may get touchy about being touched–you get the idea. This shift is due in part to hormonal changes, most notably, the hormone estrogen. Following are some of the more common changes that may occur with each of your five senses. As always, check with your healthcare provider if you are concerned with these or other changes you experience.
Does pregnancy leave a funny taste in your mouth? You’re not alone. In fact, it is quite common to experience a changing sense of taste, also known as dysgeusia, during pregnancy. Dysgeusia usually happens throughout your first trimester, as early as your first two weeks of pregnancy, and is often characterized by a metallic taste in your mouth.1
Some tips to counteract dysgeusia during pregnancy include: enjoying fresh citrus fruits or drinking fresh citrus juices; drinking lemonade or plain water with a slice of lemon; consuming foods made with vinegar such as pickles; brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth; and chewing sugar-free gum.
Does the scent of your favorite food, body lotion, shampoo, or person suddenly make you queasy? A heightened sense of smell is common during pregnancy2, and is often one of the first telltale signs that you are expecting! What causes your super sensitivity to the smells around you? You guessed it–you’re shifting hormones, particularly estrogen.
What to do? Surround yourself with subtle scents that may soothe you, such as citrus, vanilla, or chamomile. Stay away from offensive foods that may trigger nausea, as well as smoke, and harsh chemicals. Wash your clothes and bedding more frequently if possible, as they can retain odors that might make you feel ill.
Things a little fuzzier than they used to be? You may find that your vision has gotten a little more blurry now that you’re pregnant. Not to worry, many pregnant women say that they are a bit more nearsighted3 than usual, possibly due to hormonal changes, blood circulation, and fluid retention. Since this vision change is temporary, get your vision checked so you can update your eyeglass or contact lens prescription. Permanent measures such as laser surgery are, of course, not recommended. You may also experience dry eyes, another normal condition that may be remedied with prescription eye drops.
When to be concerned? If you had diabetes before you got pregnant, or acquired gestational diabetes while pregnant, your need to keep tabs on your vision because of the damage diabetes may cause the small blood vessels surrounding your retina. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have diabetes, or if you have other issues such as glaucoma, preeclampsia, or high blood pressure. These conditions may adversely affect your vision and must be closely monitored.
Has your body become more sensitive to touch, particularly your breasts? Having sore breasts is quite common when you are pregnant and is often the first sign that you are expecting.4 Your breasts are now tenderer for a number of reasons, including an increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, fat production, and milk production.
What to Expect® When You Are Expecting offers some great, common sense tips to help keep your breasts as comfortable as possible:
Have your ears become more sensitive to noise? Do you experience ringing in your ears, also known as tinnitus? Both are normal during pregnancy. In fact, pulsatile tinnitus is a common pregnancy condition5 in which the sound in your ears falls in sync with your heartbeat.
These changes to your hearing, and their severity, are temporary and often brought on by hormonal changes, inflammation, stress, and some common drugs used during pregnancy, for example those used to treat high blood pressure.
1.Early pregnancy symptom – Strange/Metallic Taste in Mouth.Countdown to pregnancy. https://www.countdowntopregnancy.com/early-pregnancy-symptoms/symptom-chart.php?symptomid=79. Published 2019.
2. O’Conner A. Heightened Sense of Smell During Pregnancy. What to Expect. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/heightened-smell.aspx. Published 2019.
3. Vision changes during pregnancy. Baby Center. https://www.babycenter.com/0_vision-changes-during-pregnancy_1456567.bc. Published 2019.
4. Breast Tenderness – Why Do My Nipples Hurt? What to Expect. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/breast-tenderness.aspx. Published 2019.
5. Heartbeat in ear – July 2018 Babies | Forums | What to Expect. https://community.whattoexpect.com/forums/july-2018-babies/topic/heartbeat-in-ear-66208571.html. Published 2018.
The information included in this article and on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation.