Smoking While Pregnant

image001Cigarette smoking while pregnant may be one of major causes of adverse outcomes for unborn babies. These complications have been observed in mothers with cigarette-smoking habit. The babies are usually born prematurely and underweight and they may even die before being born. Pregnant mothers should be very keen not to harm their developing baby’s health as well as their own health. Due to these effects, it’s advisable that if it is possible, quit smoking. The effects of smoking to both you and your baby can go all the way, even after the pregnancy. Read on to learn why smoking during pregnancy can cause great harm and what you should do.

Why Is Smoking While Pregnant Dangerous?

Cigarette smoke contains a lot of chemicals; over 4000 substances, including substances such as lead, cyanide and about 60 cancer causing elements, all which are toxic to the body. During pregnancy all these toxic substances enter the blood stream, which is the only source of nutrients and oxygen for your baby. None of the 4000 plus compounds in cigarettes are important or essential for your baby. In fact, carbon monoxide and nicotine account for almost all the complications related to smoking while pregnant.

  • Smoking can lead to still birth, low birth weight and premature birth, which are all caused by nicotine and carbon monoxide, which choke off the baby’s supply of oxygen. They do this by narrowing the blood vessels in your body as well as those in the umbilical cord. The red blood cells also start to pick carbon monoxide instead of the oxygen, thus restraining your baby’s breathing. Risks increase with every cigarette you consume, a smoker’s body is usually very sensitive to the first doses of cigarettes
  • It reduces the weight and size of the baby; one pack will remove about half pound from your baby’s birth weight. More packs a day will mean shaving more pounds off your baby, although some women may want to have lighter babies. Stunting your baby’s growth in the womb may lead to negative consequences in the future.
  • The baby’s body and lungs may not develop well to full growth, their lungs may not work well on their own and they may need a respirator to facilitate breathing. Your baby may develop asthma as well as other lung related defects, especially when the mother was smoking while pregnant.
  • Heart problems in babies are not an exception, especially if the mother smoked in the first trimester of pregnancy. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) research published in 2011, the risk of babies having congenital heart defects was about 20-70 percent higher than it was for the mothers who didn’t smoke.
  • Smoking during pregnancy may impact more on your baby’s brain functioning. Mostly, you will find that those babies born from mothers who smoke will have learning disorders, relatively low IQs and behavioural problems.
  • Second hand smoking which is popularly known as passive smoking or environmental tobacco smoke may also pose great dangers to your unborn child. The smoke which comes from the end of the cigarette contains more harmful substances than the smoke inhaled by the smoker. Pregnant women, who are often exposed to passive smoking, risk their babies getting lung cancer, asthma, heart disease, allergies, emphysema and other health complications. In addition, babies who are exposed to passive smoking or second hand smoking may develop reduced lung capacity, thus making them vulnerable to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

What You Should Do

Besides these dingy statistics about cigarette smoking while pregnant, there is an incredible opportunity for you at last. The best gift that you can give your unborn baby is by quitting this habit and the sooner the better. It’s advisable that you give up this habit before you get pregnant since smoking reduces the chances of conception by about 40 percent. It’s good to quit earlier rather than at the time you are struggling with other issues such as exercising, eating well and preparing for your baby’s birth.

Some of the mothers may not be able to plan ahead, and it can be quite devastating in some cases. However, if it turns out that you are pregnant and you are still smoking, it is not too late since you can immediately start taking steps towards quitting and eventually it will benefit your baby.

Here are some of the necessary tips you can apply to kick out this habit:

  • Designating your home surrounding as a non-smoking area.
  • Conceal your lighters, matches and ashtrays.
  • Don’t stay around with people who smoke.
  • Drink few caffeinated beverages since caffeine may stimulate your urge to smoke.
  • Change your habits in regard to smoking; you can try other habits to replace smoking i.e. drinking milk shake or taking a walk.
  • Keep sugarless mints at hand for times that you get the urge to smoke.
  • Relieve tension and stay active to keep your mind off smoking.
  • Join a support group or seek support from others.
  • Don’t go to places where smoking is rampant i.e. bars or clubs.

In addition, you can stop this habit by having a strong support team like family members or your trusted friends who you can always call when in a verge of taking cigarettes; they can help you make a great difference.

You can as well go to a health care provider, who might help you find cessation programs or even cessation aids i.e. nicotine patches, inhaler, gum, or medications. There are numerous aids which may be prescribed by the doctor and others which you can buy over-the-counter, but it’s advisable to consult the medical provider, since some of them may have nicotine.