What Are The Risks of Smoking During Pregnancy?

Maternal smoking during pregnancy has been associated mainly with fetal and development complications and the risk of other long-term consequences. When nicotine crosses the placenta, it affects fetal development.

Smoking while pregnant exposes both you and your unborn baby to an increased risk of health complications. Women who smoke during pregnancy are at an increased risk of a wide range of problems like premature labor and miscarriage, and they’re also twice likely to birth low-birth-weight babies compared to women who don’t smoke while pregnant.

Low-birth-weight infants are at a higher risk of death and highly vulnerable to breathing difficulties, infection, and long-term health difficulties in adulthood. We recommend that pregnant women quit smoking as early as possible to ensure better health for both you and your baby.

Pregnancy complications that affects a pregnant woman who smokes during pregnancy include:

  • Fetal death or stillbirth – the death of your baby in the uterus
  • Ectopic pregnancy – pregnancy in the fallopian tube, outside the uterus
  • Premature labor
  • Spontaneous abortion/miscarriage
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Placenta previa – early placenta detachment from the uterine wall and blocks the cervical opening

Smoking during pregnancy also affects the fetus. It cuts down their oxygen supply and exposes the baby to a cocktail of harmful chemicals. Some of the effects on the fetus include:

  • Retarded growth & development
  • Reduced oxygen supply due to nicotine and carbon monoxide
  • Changes in the fetus lungs and brains
  • Increased risk of cleft palate and cleft lip
  • Impaired working and development of the placenta
  • Decreased fetal movements for at least one hour after you smoke one cigarette

Further problems caused due to smoking during pregnancy:

  • Increased risk of infant death and miscarriage
  • Increased risk of premature birth
  • Increased low-birth-weight babies
  • Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Smoking while pregnant also impairs your baby’s health for years to come. Some of the health effects your baby can experience growing up include:

  • Higher risk of asthma
  • Weaker lungs
  • Increased risk of obese and overweight kids
  • Heart diseases, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes in adulthood due to low-birth-weight
  • Increased risk of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Unfortunately, over 2/3 of women who quit smoking when they’re pregnant, resume smoking after they give birth. However, not smoking during breastfeeding is worthwhile because some of the problems that could crop as a result of this include:

  • It can reduce your milk production
  • Chemicals in cigarettes can still pass to the baby through the breast milk

We understand that quitting can be hard. Here are some of the tips to help make smoking cessation much easier:

Make a list of all the benefits and reasons and quitting

Consider the benefits for both you and your baby if you quit smoking. The main goal should be to deliver a healthy baby and also to ensure a healthy pregnancy for you throughout.

Change your daily habits

If you tend to smoke after a meal, substitute that with new traditions like reading a book or going for a walk. If you tend to smoke when you read, replace that with eating a small snack or drinking a milkshake instead.

Find a strong support system

Smoking cessation is challenging; having a family member or friend, you can always call when you are on the verge of relapsing can make a huge difference. We also advise that you surround yourself with people who don’t smoke.

Ask for resources from your health care provider

Health care providers are more than happy to help you get into a cessation program or find cessation aids like nicotine patches, inhalers, gum, or medications.

However, before taking these aids, consult your gynecologists because these aids still contain nicotine, which can still affect your baby’s growth and development.

Set a quit date

Set a date where you’ll throw away all your cigarettes and ashtrays.

For more info on smoking and pregnancy, visit childmode.