When your OB gives you a list of the DO’S and DON’TS for the next nine months, smoking finds its spot among the “DON’TS” somewhere above or below alcohol. Smoking is damaging to both, but poses greater health risks to the unborn child. It is the root cause for many birth defects.
Despite this, there are many women who continue to light up. This lifestyle habit is so deeply embedded that many cannot do without a few puffs in a day. Our aim is to educate expectant couples on the potential dangers of smoking during pregnancy.
The Negative Impacts of Smoking
Smoking when pregnant impairs your baby’s health both during and after pregnancy. Cigarette smoke contains toxic substances such as nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, cyanide, lead and various other cancer causing compounds. When you inhale cigarette smoke, these chemical substances enter your blood stream. The bloodstream is your baby’s main source of oxygen and nourishment.
Nicotine present in cigarette smoke narrows the blood vessels coursing through your body and the umbilical cord. Thus, it cuts your baby’s oxygen supply. The reduced supply of oxygen is known to have the following impacts.
- Increases the risk of premature or pre-term babies
- Increases the risk of miscarriage
- Doubles the risk of still born babies
- It may also cause placental abruption (the placenta gets detached from the womb).
- Low birth weight – The baby weighs less than 5 pounds at birth. It may stunt your baby’s growth for lifetime.
- Respiratory Problems – When you smoke during pregnancy, the baby’s vital systems remain underdeveloped. This includes the respiratory system. The delayed lung development forces your little one to depend on a respirator for the first few days after birth. Thereafter, your baby may continue to suffer breathing problems. Smoking doubles the risk of asthma and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Impact on the heart – Expectant women who smoke during the first trimester and throughout pregnancy make their baby more vulnerable to congenital birth defects. The decreased supply of oxygen causes an increase in the heart rate.
- Impact on the brain – You literally impair your child’s life if you smoke when pregnant. Children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy develop behavioral problems, learning disorders and low IQs.
You must be wondering what the term “Secondhand smoking” implies. Second hand smoking is a situation in which you don’t smoke, but are exposed to smoke in your immediate surroundings. Something like you don’t smoke but your husband smokes.
Second hand smoke contains a lower proportion of chemicals. However, it can be equally damaging because in the end you inhale the smoke. Babies exposed to such secondhand smoke develop a greater risk of heart diseases, emphysema, lung cancer, asthma and allergies. Thus, you should urge the person to stop smoking or try as much to stay away.
How can you get off smoking?
No smoking limit considered safe during pregnancy. Quitting is the only solution. It does get difficult and sometimes seems impossible. But, you have to do it, if not for yourself for your baby. We have a short write up titled “how to quit smoking during pregnancy”. It hands out tips to make the transition easy and safe for both you and your baby. We advise you skim through.
I am sure the last thing you would want to do is expose your child to danger. So, make a healthy decision today.