Smoking During Pregnancy: Risk Factors & Tips for Quitting!

The fact, that smoking during pregnancy is unhealthy and dangerous for both you and your baby, is common knowledge for everyone on the planet. Still, you can never know too much about something as important as your future baby.

Smoking During Pregnancy

Table of Contents

Smoking Is Bad for Your Health!

There are lots of such warnings everywhere we go. Cigarette packs contain such warnings in which they shortly present some of the risks to which smokers expose themselves. Still, A lot of person continue to smoke, and more than that, they smoke around nonsmokers, children or even during pregnancy.

In the `40s – `50s it was pretty uncommon to see a pregnant woman smoking. However, times have changed and studies try to always come up with new reasons why you should quit smoking. – Check this out!

Smoking while pregnant, and not only, is a very bad idea and affects the fetus quite a lot. Danish researchers have noticed that pregnant women who smoke have a lower production of chemicals which relax the blood vessels. However, this in turn leads to a decrease of blood flow towards the uterus and to fetal development issues. Your future baby may have a lower weight, smaller length and his head will be smaller head too at birth.

Malene Rohr Andersen, a well known doctor from the University Hospital in Gentofte Denmark said: “This study is one of the first studies that show a biochemical measurement of what is happening and which causes a reduced weight at birth. It`s known for over 50 years that babies born from mothers who used to smoke while expecting have a lower birth weight. This study offers a possible answer for the question “Why Is the Blood Flow Diminished?” The reduced production of vasodilator nitric oxide may reduce blood flow to the fetus.” – Read this!

The fetus needs a good blood flow to be able to develop properly. Experts have discovered that the enzyme which produces nitric oxide, a chemical substance necessary for regulating blood flow, is reduced with 47% in the umbilical cord of pregnant women who smoke, therefore the activity of blood vessels is reduced with 36%.

According to the latest research, babies born from mothers who smoke weigh 25% less than those born from mother who don`t smoke.

It`s Never too Late to Quit Smoking

The good news, for the mothers who smoke and become pregnant, is that if they give up smoking as early as possible during pregnancy, then enzyme levels may return to normal, allowing the baby to be born with a normal birth weight.

“Women who smoke should give up this bad habit if they want to have a healthy child, or at least as soon as they found they`ll have a baby,” said Andersen. “That`s why, women shouldn`t start smoking again after childbirth. Some women stop smoking only during pregnancy and then they start smoking again, thus exposing the child to her ugly habit, which also affects vascular functions.”

Risk Factors

Smoking while pregnant exposes the baby to carbon monoxide, which limits the supply of oxygen and nutrients. Exposure to nicotine increases the baby`s heart rate and reduces his respiratory movements.

Smoking while expecting a baby causes other medical issues as well, such as:

  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Issues with the placenta, such as placenta previa or placenta abruption.
  • Reduced birth weight of the baby.
  • Premature rupture of membranes – when the membrane (which forms the amniotic sac) surrounding the baby around the child breaks before labor starts and before the week 37 of pregnancy.
  • Premature birth.
  • Premature labor.
  • Congenital abnormalities of the heart, limbs, skull or muscles.
  • Miscarriage.

Smoking while pregnant may affect the health of the baby after he is born, increasing the risk of:

  • Sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Colic.
  • Asthma.
  • Respiratory infections.
  • Obesity.

Also, some studies suggest a relation between smoking while expecting and the child`s emotional and behavioral development as well as his ability of learning. Moreover, it may even affect his fertility.

Risks of Passive Smoking

If you inhale the smoke of someone else who is smoking in the same room with you, your child`s health may be affected as well. Women who don`t smoke, but are exposed to passive smoking, present an increased risk of miscarriage or to have a child with congenital abnormalities or low birth weight. – Check this out!

Quitting Smoking while Expecting Will Reduce the Risks to the Child?

Surely! If you smoke, quitting smoking while already pregnant is your best option to offer a chance to your child for a healthy start. If you give up smoking during the first 4 months of pregnancy, you`ll reduce the risk of the child being born with a low weight. Also, giving up smoking during this period may reduce the risk of premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth or other complications.

Reducing the number of cigarettes that you smoke during pregnancy is an important step, but giving up completely will have the greatest impact for both you and your baby`s health. – More info!

Risks of Starting to Smoke after Childbirth

Adapting to the new life may be stressful once the baby is born. Consequently, a lot of women that quit smoking may relapse soon after childbirth. Women in this situation have friends or members in the family that are frequent smokers, and so they have a low social support. If you gave up smoking while expecting your child, find out if the risk of starting to smoke again after you gave birth is high and ask for advice from a pulmonologist about how you can avoid to start again.

In addition, it`s important to remember that passive smoking represents a risk for the health of your newborn, increasing the risk asthma occurrence or sudden infant death syndrome. If you are breastfeeding, the baby will be exposed to a series of harmful substances through the mother`s milk. If you are smoking after you gave birth, don`t smoke near your child, and most important, make yourself a plan to quit smoking.

Tips to Quit Smoking during Pregnancy

It`s not simple to quit smoking, that`s for sure! But still, by considering some easy tips, you may just succeed in quitting if it`s that important for you:

  1. Stop smoking immediately! If you just found out you are pregnant, you should suddenly quit smoking. But still, this may be rather hard to do. It will prove a real tough thing to do to quit smoking from all of a sudden. You should remember that from now on you don`t have to take care of only you, but also of the baby that is about to be born and who has the right to a good start in life.
  2. Stopping gradually: “Once you found you are expecting, you can either quit smoking suddenly or you can try to quit with baby steps, reducing the number of cigarettes from day to day, for a few weeks, until you give up permanently,” said Dr. Spock, a doctor from the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers.
  3. Chewing gum. There are some smokers out there who believe that replacing cigarettes with chewing gum may be an effective technique for stopping smoking, because it offers you a distraction and keeps your mouth busy with something else.
  4. Avoid contact with smokers! Limit your contact with smokers and try to meet more members of your family or friends who don`t smoke, who can encourage you in your attempt to stop smoking. Don`t let anyone make you feel that you have taken the wrong decision when quitting.
  5. Nicotine replacement. “Nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nasal spray – they are all harmful for pregnant women because not only the smoke is harmful, but especially nicotine which is a real poison for the organism,” said Dr. John Martin from the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. Nicotine can be absorbed by the fetus through the placenta, so the nicotine replacement method is only recommended when quitting smoking before pregnancy, not during.
  6. Support. Regardless of the technique you used when quitting smoking, it`s essential to find other people who can support you on your journey. Both active and passive smoking can harm you and your baby`s health.
Image courtesy of alldaychemist.com

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