It is no secret that smoking cigarettes are bad for your health. It damages your internal organs and wreaks havoc on your body, in general. During pregnancy, the negative effects of smoking continue.
Smoking During Pregnancy: Here’s What Happens To You And Your Baby
If you are a smoker and unable to let go of this habit in pregnancy, you not only put your own health but also that of your baby in grave danger. Here are the risks of smoking while pregnant:
Miscarriage and stillbirth
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One of the most devastating things that may happen during your pregnancy is pregnancy loss, either through a miscarriage or stillbirth.
If the pregnant woman continues to smoke, the possibility of either heightens because of the dangerous chemicals that are in cigarettes.
Studies show that the risk of miscarriage increases with the amount smoked (1 per cent increase in relative risk per cigarette smoked per day). Meanwhile, smoking during pregnancy is also linked with a 47 per cent increase in the odds of stillbirth.
An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilised egg is stuck in the fallopian tubes and will not be able to develop. Nicotine in cigarettes can cause this, as they restrict contractions in the tubes for the egg to pass through.
In normal pregnancies, the placenta is usually on top of the womb, as it makes room for the cervix to be open for proper delivery. Placenta previa is when the placenta is partially or fully covering the cervix opening, and smoking during pregnancy may lead to this.
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Smoking during pregnancy can trigger preterm birth. This not only means giving birth early but having a host of other potential complications with the baby. This can manifest itself later in life, through cerebral palsy, learning and behavioural problems or even disabilities.
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These are the physical manifestations of what cigarette smoking can do. A cleft lip or palate or even heart problems may be caused if there is a continuation of smoking through pregnancy.
Effects of smoking while pregnant
Smoking while pregnant deprives your developing baby of the oxygen it needs to grow and develop early in pregnancy, which babies do a lot of.
Smoking before conception can lead to serious delivery complications.
- A mother’s pre-pregnancy smoking was associated with a 40 per cent
- increase in gastroschisis, a disorder in which the infant’s intestines protrude through a hole in the abdominal wall, according to one long-term study.
- According to one study, a father’s smoking increased the risk of his child developing birth abnormalities such as limb deformities, heart problems, and neural tube defects like spina bifida.
If you smoked before learning you were expecting, don’t worry; simply stop. The largest benefits for your child come from quitting smoking before 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Second-Hand Smoke: Long-Term Effects of Inhaling Smoke During Pregnancy
Smoking while pregnant can harm you and your baby both before and after birth if your husband or anyone else in your house smokes. It may be more difficult to quit if someone close to you smokes.
Secondhand smoking can lower your baby’s birth weight and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), sometimes known as “cot death.” Babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to the hospital with bronchitis and pneumonia during their first year.
Are E-Cigarettes and Vapes Safe During Pregnancy?
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E-cigarettes or its new name, vape are still new, and there are many unknowns. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, the use of e-cigarettes or vaping is not safe during pregnancy.
Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a harmful substance that permanently damages a baby’s developing brain and many other organs. They may also contain chemicals, flavours and other additives that might not be safe for your baby.
Some research suggests that using an e-cigarette or vaping is better for pregnant women who are struggling to kick the smoking habit because it allows you to inhale nicotine as a vapour rather than smoking.
Moreover, e-cigarettes do not create tar or carbon monoxide, the two principal carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. Carbon monoxide is particularly hazardous to infants.
While it may be true that vaping or e-cigarettes is the lesser evil, only exposing a growing baby to fewer toxins compared with those from regular cigarette use, you must remember that nicotine exposure of any kind is harmful to your unborn child.
So if you’re expecting and are still using e-cigarettes or vaping, push yourself to give up the habit to give your baby a healthy start. Consult your doctor for safer alternatives or seek counselling.
How to Quit Smoking While Pregnant: Nicotine Replacement Therapy
If nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) helps you quit smoking and you can’t stop without it, you can use it during pregnancy.
Taking anti-smoking medications like Champix or Zyban while pregnant is not advised because it simply includes nicotine and none of the hazardous components found in cigarettes, NRT is a far better alternative than smoking. It aids you by providing nicotine in the same way that cigarettes do.
NRT comes in the following forms:
- spray nasal
- spray mouth
- Strips for mouth
Patches may be a better option if you’re experiencing pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. However, NRT patches should only be worn for 16 hours out of every 24 hours. The simplest method is to remove the patch before going to bed.
Consult a midwife or your doctor before using any of these products.
Smoking And Stillbirth Risk: Smoking At Any Point In Life Poses Risks Of Stillbirth
How To Help Pregnant Women Quit Smoking
List of Support Services To Help You Quit Smoking In Singapore
Tips to Quit Smoking During Pregnancy
Quitting smoking while pregnant can be done anytime, and it can be now. Look at these tips for those who are struggling to quit smoking while pregnant:
- If you aren’t pregnant yet but are trying to conceive, set a quit date that works for you. If you are pregnant, you must immediately stop smoking. Try to cut down on your consumption as much as you can. Talk to your doctor about starting a smoking cessation program.
- Cold turkey is the way to go. Take any cigarettes, ashtrays, or lighters you have with you. Clean your house and clothes to get rid of the smoke odour.
- If you live with someone who smokes, discuss quitting with them. If this isn’t possible, talk to your friends and family about quitting smoking. Avoid places where people are smoking whenever feasible.
- Switch things up in your regular routine. Avoid situations that make you want to light up.
- Find coping mechanisms. Instead of lighting up a cigarette after dinner, go for a walk.
- In the first two weeks after quitting, find stress-reduction techniques.
- Consult your doctor if you’re interested in nicotine replacement therapy or medications.
- Seek expert assistance. Smokers who seek support over the phone, in a group, or one-on-one are much more likely to quit.
- Join a support group for smokers who want to quit.
The following are extra precautions that pregnant women should remember to reduce the effects of smoking on your pregnancy:
- Ask people (including your partner) not to smoke around you and your children.
- Make your home and car smoke-free.
- Choose restaurants and other businesses that are smoke-free.
- Avoiding secondhand smoke exposure not only if you are pregnant, but also if you or your children have respiratory conditions or heart disease.
- Speak to your doctor about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Benefits When You Stop Smoking While Pregnant
Stopping smoking will benefit both you and your child right away. Your body will expel toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and other hazardous chemicals. When you stop smoking, you get the following benefits:
- You’ll have a lesser risk of complications throughout pregnancy and delivery.
- You’ll have a healthier pregnancy and child.
- Your child will have a lower chance of being born underweight. Smokers’ neonates are on average 200g (8oz) lighter than normal babies, which might cause difficulties during and after birth. For example, they are more likely to have problems keeping warm and get infections.
- The incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as “cot death,” will be minimised.
- Your chances of having a stillbirth will be reduced.
- Your child is less likely to be born prematurely and have the resulting respiratory, feeding, and health problems.
Quitting smoking now will help your child in the future. Children who have parents who smoke are more likely to develop asthma and other serious illnesses that may require hospitalization.
Smoking should be stopped as soon as feasible. You and your child will benefit even if you stop in the last few weeks of your pregnancy.
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This article was first published on theAsianparent Philippines and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
Updates from Camille Eusebio
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