Smoking During Pregnancy

It should be common sense that smoking during pregnancy is a dangerous choice, yet millions of mothers each year continue to smoke while pregnant. Smoking during pregnancy can cause severe developmental problems in the baby and the overall health of the baby before and after it is born.

Smoking causes severe and detrimental health effects in teens and adults. However, these effects are worsened when the parent continues to smoke while pregnant. Smoking has been determined as one of the leading causes in adverse effects in children born with a smoker mother. Because the nicotine and the other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes like carbon monoxide are carried from the smoke inhalation and into the bloodstream, which goes directly to the baby. There are several dangerous effects of smoking during pregnancy including the lowered amount of oxygen available to you and your developing baby. Smoking during pregnancy also increases the baby's heart rate as as well as increases the chance of miscarriage and stillbirth. Women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk that their baby will be born prematurely or at a low birth weight. Babies that are born from a mother who smokes during pregnancy increases the baby's risk of developing respiratory lung problems. The more cigarettes that are smoked, the higher the risk of the baby's chance to develop other health problems. It is important for mothers to keep in mind that there is no safe level of smoking while pregnant.

Remember that secondhand smoke can also affect your pregnancy because it still contains harmful chemicals that can be inhaled by the mother during pregnancy. If you and your unborn baby are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, there is an increased risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease as well as other respiratory diseases like emphysema. Babies exposed to secondhand smoke are also at a higher risk of developing other issues like allergies, asthma and other lung diseases. The repercussions of some of these effects like premature birth and low birth weight are also likely to cause severe development issues. Some babies that are born premature never develop normally and have health problems for the rest of their lives. They also might not live past infancy, unfortunately. Continuing to smoke while pregnant can be detrimental to your baby's health for the rest of his or her life. Because this is such a problem it is important for pregnant mothers, or women planning on becoming pregnant, to quit if not for their own sake, definitely for their child's. 

Ways to help a woman quit smoking before getting pregnant:

  • Do not smoke in the home and do not allow others to smoke in your home. This will lessen the temptation.
  • In that same vein, do not hang around with people while they are smoking. If your partner or spouse is also a smoker, encourage them to quit with you so you are not tempted by their behavior and you can be one another's support system.
  • Change your habits that you had while smoking. This is a great way to avoid the habitual way you smoke each and every day. Making it past the first day or two of withdrawal symptoms like headache, stress, anxiety and some nausea is the physical part. From then on, it is simply avoiding the same habits you had while smoking. 
  • Drink fewer caffeinated beverages because caffeine may be a stimulate to urge your body to have a cigarette. The same goes with alcohol  and pregnancy as many people will smoke while they drink. 
  • Ease the amount of stress you are experiencing since many smokers will resort to the habit when stressed. Think of new ways to handle your stress like chewing gum, squeezing a stress ball, going running or for a walk. Meditation is also another great way to clear your mind and avoid the cravings. 
  • Do not use nicotine patches and gum as those aids will still be add nicotine into the bloodstream and therefore into the baby.
  • Look for others for support. There are many online communities that support each other when it comes to quitting smoking. There also might be a support group in your local area that meets regularly to help each other quit smoking.

Remember, being a parent requires responsibility and it is not good for your health and especially not the health of the baby to continue smoking during pregnancy. Get help from a doctor or health care professional if you need help quitting this habit, but don't waste any time in letting this continue to damage your unborn baby.


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