Smoking And Stillbirth Risk: Smoking At Any Point In Life Poses Risks Of Stillbirth

Smoking And Stillbirth Risk: Smoking At Any Point In Life Poses Risks Of Stillbirth

Are you aware that a woman who smokes during pregnancy have a higher risk for stillbirth?

Are you aware of the real risks of smoking while pregnant? Studies suggest that smoking and stillbirth risk is often correlated. In other words, a woman who smokes during pregnancy may have a higher risk of stillbirth. 

Aside from stillbirth, pregnant women who smoke may also experience other complications such as ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, preterm birth, low birth weight and other birth defects.

Smoking and stillbirth risk

smoking and stillbirth risk

Image from Freepik

We all know that smoking, in general, poses severe health risks to people. In fact, about 6 Singaporeans die prematurely from smoking-related diseases each day. When a pregnant woman smokes, these chemicals pass from a pregnant mum’s bloodstream into the baby’s blood.

According to the US Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), smoking contributes to slow fetal development and problems with the placenta leading to stillbirth or early miscarriage.

Cigarette smoke contains poisonous chemicals such as carbon monoxide and ammonia, which are absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in negative health implications. 

Contradicting some pregnancy myths, there is actually no “safe” level of smoking when pregnant. It doesn’t matter how seldom you smoke while pregnant, it will still have an effect on your baby.

Secondhand smoke and its effects

smoking and stillbirth risk

Image from Freepik

The effect of secondhand smoke is just as harmful as smoking a cigarette directly. 

To explain it scientifically, the smoke that burns off the end of a cigarette contains more harmful chemicals such as tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide than the smoke that is actually inhaled by the smoker.

So if you breathe in this toxic cocktail, you are already a passive smoker and exposing your baby to potential harm, including the risk of stillbirth. 

Other pregnancy complications

Aside from stillbirth and miscarriage, the effects of smoking on the baby’s health extend up to the day they are born.

One complication that is also common in women who smoke or women who are exposed to secondhand smoke is an ectopic pregnancy. The nicotine causes contraction in the fallopian tubes which prevent the embryo from passing through. In this situation, the embryo should be removed to prevent danger to the mother.

There are also studies saying that smoking can lead to preterm birth. And this is dangerous as well because a baby being born early may develop a range of health conditions, including mental disability,  visual and hearing impairments and more. 

How to quit smoking while pregnant

smoking and stillbirth risk

Image from Freepik

There are a few things you could do to avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. 

First things first, if you are the smoker, commit and decide to quit smoking. It’s gonna be hard especially if you have been consuming cigarettes for a long time. But putting your baby’s life on the line should be enough to drive you to make that decision.

Some studies also suggest that caffeine stimulates your urge to smoke. So if you can avoid beverages with caffeine, then it might help. Side note, caffeine is also bad for the baby as it contributes to babies having low birth weight.

If your urges are even stronger, a support group might help you. It doesn’t have to be a professional one, it could be your friends or family members. Engage in social and physical activities. These will also help you take your mind off of your urges and even help in keeping your health in check.

How to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke

Now, if you live with people who smoke, especially if it is your husband — ask them not to smoke around you. Educate them about the risks and if you can motivate them to stop as well, then it will be better.

But if this is too hard to do, maybe you can just designate non-smoking areas in your house.

Finally, you may also want to avoid places like bars and restaurants where people often smoke or if it’s not possible, then just stay in non-smoking areas.

You might think, being pregnant takes a lot of work — and you’re right. But remember, your little one will thank you for these sacrifices and you will actually benefit from it too if he/she comes out healthy!

ALSO READ: Women still smoke during pregnancy despite known risks to child, say survey

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