How Pregnancy Affects Your B.O.

Woman catching an odor

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As you step onto the bus with a bag of groceries in your arms, the man in the second row of seats sees your pregnant belly and hops up to offer you a space. You smile and take it. But while riding along, you begin to notice a strong B.O. smell. You glance discreetly around, wondering who on this bus might have forgotten to wear deodorant. But then you realize: it's you.

Growing a baby is a big job that changes your body in a myriad of ways, and some of those changes may be more surprising than others. While you probably expect to gain weight and experience some nausea, you may not be as ready for changes in how you smell—but pregnancy can indeed affect your body odor, too.

Smelling a little differently during pregnancy is not generally an indication that anything is wrong, and it likely won't hurt you. But there are steps you can take to reduce the odor if it makes you uncomfortable. We turned to the experts to find out why body odor can be stronger during pregnancy and what can be done about it.

Causes of Body Odor During Pregnancy

Sweating and body odor can happen as early as the first trimester, when body temperature is highest. However, there are several possible reasons why you might smell a little "different" while expecting.

Hormonal and Blood Flow Changes

Your body odor might be stronger or may even smell differently during pregnancy due to the adjustments in your hormones. "Women are warmer in pregnancy due to extra hormones, and this leads to sweating," says Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN with over 20 years experience. Odor-causing bacteria thrives in a warm, wet environment, which is why sweating often results in B.O.

Increased blood volume is also one of the reasons you might feel toastier. "Pregnancy increases one's basal metabolic rate along with blood flow and body temperature from the onset, causing a hotter-than-normal feeling that leads to sweating," explains Christine Kingsley, a U.S. advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and the health and wellness director of Lung Institute.


If you're feeling more stressed than usual, this can play a role in body odor as well. Feeling worried or overwhelmed can trigger the body to respond by sweating from the apocrine glands, some of which are located in your armpits.

"These glands are responsible for secreting a kind of sweat that, when interacting with bodily bacteria, produces a pungent ammonia-smelling liquid that is more noticeable than normal sweat," says Kingsley.

Weight Gain

Your fetus, amniotic fluid, placenta, and the extra fat your body stores during pregnancy all add weight to your body. You need to use more effort to move your body with this extra weight, especially since it is distributed in a way that your body may not be accustomed to. This extra effort can cause you to sweat more, leading to B.O.

Solutions to Body Odor

While there's nothing dangerous about body odor, you may prefer to smell a little more fresh and clean. If pregnancy-related body odor is bothering you, there are a few things you can do to reduce the stink.

Wash Regularly and With Simple Products

Showering daily and after exercise helps rinse odor-causing bacteria from your body, along with additional sweat. It's best to stick to warm water and soap, and avoid using moisturizing soaps or body wash with fragrance. "The bacteria on your skin can react with these ingredients, exacerbating body odors," notes Dr. Langdon.

After washing and drying your body, apply a pregnancy-safe deodorant.

Wear Breathable Fabrics

Wearing breathable fabrics like cotton or linen will help prevent excessive sweating. Loose clothing will keep you cool and allow sweat to evaporate away form your skin. "With breathable fabrics, odorous sweat doesn't get trapped, and won't cultivate more odor-causing bacteria," notes Kingsley.

Be sure to change your clothing each time you bathe or shower, because bacteria can grow in the sweat that the material has absorbed.

Stress Relief

While you can't necessarily remove every stress trigger from your life, you can try to combat feelings of anxiety so that your body is less likely to sweat from the apocrine gland.

Meditation, yoga, making time to chat with good friends, running, or writing in a journal are all possible ways to reduce stress. If exercise is your preferred stress-relief method, just remember to shower with warm water and soap afterward!

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Body odor is not generally a sign of anything harmful. However, if it comes on suddenly or is particularly strong, reach out to your OB/GYN or healthcare provider. In some cases, B.O. could be a symptom of another health issue. When in doubt, it's always a good idea to seek medical advice.

A Word From Verywell

Some pregnancy symptoms can be surprising and strange. Strong body odor is normal during pregnancy and is usually nothing to worry about.

If you want to minimize the stink, try to avoid excessive sweating by wearing thin, loose clothing. Some sweating is inevitable, so showering regularly and especially after exercising will help. Just make sure to use only soap and warm water, and avoid any moisturizing or scented soaps that could leave a film on your skin and interact with bacteria.

If your body odor is still a concern to you, reach out to your healthcare provider. They may have some further solutions that are safe during pregnancy.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.