During pregnancy there is so much going on in your body that it’s hard to keep track sometimes. But one thing you will notice very early on is a heightened sense of smell. For some women, this is what initially alerts them to the fact that they might be pregnant. Smells that once didn’t register can suddenly turn your stomach. The inside of the fridge, the dog’s bed, the fragrance that you loved and wore every day – you suddenly have bionic nasal passages and it can be overwhelming.
But it’s not just the overpowering smells that can worry you. Some concerns over the use of fragrance while pregnant have been raised over the years, prompting numerous studies and a vast array of results. Recent reports say that some heavier fragrances contain carriers called phthalates. There are a wide range of phthalates and some of these can be harmful. The long, complicated lists of ingredients on the box will rarely disclose every tiny detail and if you are not certain that phthalates are not included, then it’s best to avoid it, especially in the first three months.
Another recent study by Professor Richard Sharpe, principal investigator at the Medical Research Council’s Human Sciences Unit, has proposed that there is a link between the development of the male foetus and perfume during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Research carried out on rats showed that the reproductive system of a male foetus could be damaged by some chemicals, including those found in many cosmetics. According to the study, male rats born to mothers who were exposed to perfume during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy were more apt to suffer from infertility or undescended testes. No human studies have been done yet, however more studies are being done into the possibility that chemicals in perfume may block androgen release, which is crucial for the development of the male fertility system.
So what can you do if you are addicted to smelling good? Here are three tried and tested options for looking after your unborn baby and smelling sweet at the same time:
Go organic. Because the perfume industry isn’t legally bound to list all the ingredients that go into their fragrances, they usually don’t. However, if you go the natural route then you can rest easy about the contents. Fragrances containing only natural plant-based ingredients can be found in health shops. Just chat to the owner about the ingredients first.
Wait until the second trimester before considering what perfumes and products to use, and if you are unsure about anything, ask. It’s safest to avoid any unnecessary products in the early stages.
Ask your doctor about essential oils. Although they are natural, some are not recommended for use during pregnancy, while others are perfectly safe. There is lots of information on the internet but to ensure you get it 100% right, ask an expert.