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Craving the Smell Of Soap While Pregnant? Here’s What You Need to Know

Are you craving the smell of soap while pregnant?

You are not alone!

A quick perusal of any pregnant forum will show you that craving the smell of soap is a  common pregnancy craving.

This was one of my big cravings during pregnancy.

I wanted to sniff Irish Spring and Coast soap all the time during my second trimester.

Luckily I did not want to eat the soap, which is called pica and is not safe to do.

We asked our OB/GYN Dr. Doug Penta, MD about craving the smell of soap while pregnant and he said craving smells while pregnant is fairly common and normal., but that it can be indicative of a more serious condition so always report it to your doctor or midwife.


Craving the Smell of Irish Spring Soap While Pregnant


Soap is one of those smells that can be incredibly comforting, especially when you’re pregnant.

It tends to trigger thoughts of cleanliness, freshness, and being healthy.

Let’s jump in and talk about what might cause the strange craving to smell soap during pregnancy!


craving the smell of soap while pregnant


Craving the smell of soap while pregnant.

First, it is important to know that pregnancy cravings are real and normal.

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Almost all pregnant women have cravings

Most of us think of cravings as being for food items.

While cravings for specific foods are the most common type during pregnancy, cravings for non-food items occur frequently as well.

These non-food pregnancy cravings can be concerning for pregnant women and rightly so, as craving the smell of chemicals during pregnancy can be dangerous.

It is important if you are having cravings for non-food items like the smell of soap or other chemicals that you discuss it with your doctor or midwife.

That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or your developing baby.

When you are craving to sniff certain smells during pregnancy with no desire to ingest the item that is called Desiderosmia.

Desiderosmia can be associated with iron-deficiency anemia in pregnancy but it isn’t always and even if it is once you start on iron supplements from your doctor or midwife your cravings will stop.

This is why it is important to let your healthcare provider know if you develop the desire to sniff non-food items during pregnancy.

-Dr Doug Penta, MD, OB/GYN

However, wanting to sniff soap during pregnancy is not always caused by iron-deficiency anemia.

Keep reading to find out what else could be causing your cravings for soap during pregnancy.


So, what does it mean if you crave soap while pregnant?

We discussed iron-deficiency anemia as a possible cause of olfactory cravings during pregnancy.

But that is not the only possible cause.

Another possibility is that it’s caused by the hormone fluctuations that occur in pregnancy.

The most likely hormonal causes during pregnancy are:

1. HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin)

During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the “pregnancy test”  hormone, HCG doubles every two days.

2. Estrogen Hormone

Estrogen increases by 100-fold during pregnancy.

3. Progesterone Hormone

Progesterone relaxes smooth muscles.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy are associated with many strange and annoying issues including morning sickness, changes in skin color, acne, fatigue, and muscle, and joint pain to name a few.

Another theory is that the craving for soap is actually a way of satisfying your body’s need for certain minerals and nutrients.

Soap, particularly glycerin soap, contains ingredients like sodium and potassium which your body may be lacking.

In fact, some research has shown that pregnant women who crave soap are more likely to be deficient in these minerals.

There have been some theories that suggest a craving for dirt or soil may be an attempt at protecting the fetus and mother from toxins in the gut as dirt may bind with the toxins and remove them from the body.

While not directly related to craving the smell of soap while pregnant it illustrates that the medical and scientific community are not sure what the cause of these strange types of cravings exactly is.


So, is it safe to sniff soap while pregnant?

In general, yes, it is safe to sniff bars of soap or hand soap while pregnant.

When we say bar soap or hand soap we mean soaps like Irish Spring, Dove, or homemade hand soaps, excluding antibacterial soap.

However, if you have any concerns, it’s always best to speak with your doctor or midwife first.

They can provide you with more specific advice based on your individual health and pregnancy.

If you’re looking for safe alternatives to satisfy your need to sniff something clean and fresh, there are a few options:

You could try using an essential oil diffuser with some calming or refreshing oils like lavender or chamomille

You could also try making your own potpourri by simmering water and dried herbs like chamomile or ginger on the stove.

You could try using a room spray with pregnancy-safe essential oils to mist your environment with a refreshing scent.

You could place a few drops of safe essential oil into a small humidifier that would disperse it into the room, plus it adds much-needed moisture for dry pregnancy skin.

Whatever you do, just make sure you avoid any strong chemicals or fragrances that could be harmful to you and your baby.

It isn’t unusual to struggle with your craving to smell soap or other products.

Many pregnant women find it difficult to replace their desire for a specific smell.

That is another reason it is important to reach out to your healthcare provider and let them what is happening.


What if you crave the smell of things other than soap while pregnant?

Craving chemical smells during pregnancy is very common.

While many women experience strong cravings during pregnancy, few realize that these cravings can sometimes be for unusual and unexpected things, like chemicals and other synthetic scents.

For some women, these cravings may be difficult to manage and lead to unhealthy habits, such as exposure to dangerous fumes.

However, there are ways to help curb these cravings and protect both your health and that of your baby.

For example, you can choose natural and organic products for your body care routine in order to limit your exposure to harmful chemicals.

Also, by remembering that you aren’t alone and taking steps to safeguard your health, you can put those chemical cravings behind you.


What is PICA during pregnancy?

PICA is a disorder that causes craving and consumption of non-food items.

PICA can occur in pregnancy and is more common in pregnant women who have iron deficiencies.

Pica occurs in up to 40% of pregnant women in the United States and that could be an underestimated number.

While the exact cause of PICA is unknown, it is thought to be related to changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy or a deficiency in micronutrients

The most commonly craved items include dirt, clay, ice, and chalk.

But some pregnant women crave wood, wood shavings, ash, corn starch, coffee grounds, and paint chips.

While eating these items may not always be harmful to the mother, they can pose a risk to the developing baby.

Ingesting nonfood items can lead to gastrointestinal blockages or perforations, and may also increase the risk of infection, birth defects, or low birth weight.

If you think you may have PICA, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.

They can help to rule out other causes of cravings and can provide guidance on how to safely satisfy your cravings.



What is iron-deficiency anemia in pregnancy?

Though there are many causes of anemia, for women, the most common cause is iron deficiency anemia.

This type of anemia is often related to having heavy menses.

Women with heavy menstrual blood loss may not be aware they are anemic.

The first time many women will learn they have anemia is when their blood count is checked at their first prenatal visit.

Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia can include fatigue, exhaustion, shortness of breath, and olfactory cravings (craving the smell of Irish spring soap for example)

These symptoms usually subside once you are treated with an iron supplement.

It is critical to get your anemia diagnosed and treated quickly because it directly affects the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood to the fetus.



Final Thoughts

So there you have it! If you find yourself craving the smell of soap while pregnant, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

And there are some safe ways to satisfy your craving.

Just be sure to speak with your doctor or midwife first and avoid any strong chemicals or fragrances.


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