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Pregnancy Hygiene Tips

When you found out you were pregnant, you knew your body might not feel like your own. What you probably didn't count on, though, was it smelling like someone else's. What's up? Your hormones, for one thing: Rising levels of estrogen and progesterone can promote changes in bacteria growth. Your body temperature, for another, which can cause you to perspire more than usual. Fortunately, battling body odors is easily done.

Bad Breath: Odor-causing bacteria may be more prevalent in pregnant women, so be supervigilant about cleaning your teeth -- after every meal is ideal, says Barbara Steinberg, D.D.S., a professor at Allegheny University of the Health Sciences. Your dentist may recommend that you brush your tongue too, as well as floss. Swishing with an antimicrobial mouthwash or using a water irrigator can also help flush out bacteria.

Underarm Funk: "When hormone levels change, the composition of bacteria on the skin changes," says New York City dermatologist Joyce Davis, M.D."So while everybody has a 'signature' smell normally, it changes during pregnancy." To counter, bathe once a day, avoid too-tight clothing, and opt for garments made of natural fibers whenever possible. Choose an antiperspirant deodorant, which both inhibits sweat and masks odor.

Vaginal Odor: Increased discharge, increased blood flow to the genital area, and changes in the vaginal flora alter the region's aroma during pregnancy, says Joel Brasch, M.D., director of Advanced Reproductive Health Centers, in Chicago. An acidic smell, accompanied by clear, watery secretions or opaque, white discharge, is due to normal changes in the vaginal pH level. If you're bothered by it, wash the outer area twice a day and pat dry. (Avoid douching or using a feminine deodorant spray, as these can interfere with the natural vaginal flora.) Wear all-cotton or cotton-crotch panties, which allow odors to escape. If you detect a fishy or rancid scent, call your doctor.

Smelly Feet: Chalk those stinky dogs up to pregnancy-related weight gain and water retention, which result in snug shoes and sweaty feet. Wear open-toed shoes whenever possible; otherwise, air out shoes at least every other day and use odor-absorbing antibacterial shoe inserts. Or try this tea soak: Steep 4 tea bags in warm water, then for 10 minutes alternately soak your feet for 30 seconds and air-dry them for 30 seconds.

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