If you’re pregnant, or planning a baby, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to safeguard your own health as well as that of your baby. Smoking during pregnancy affects your baby’s health and your own, before, during and after your baby is born. Nicotine, carbon monoxide and other toxic substances that you inhale from a cigarette, reach your baby directly through your bloodstream, exposing your unborn child to an increased risk of health problems that can affect them throughout their childhood and into adulthood.
Pregnancy Complications Due To Smoking
Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious complications
Smoking can cause complications during your pregnancy such as:
An increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and miscarriage
An increased risk of hypertension, placental abnormalities and premature labour
Lowered amount of oxygen available to you and your baby
An increase in your baby’s heart rate
Increased chances of your baby being born with low birth weight, developing respiratory problems and having birth defects
An increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of orofacial birth defects such as a cleft lip or being born without a cleft palate
Secondhand Smoke And Pregnancy
Secondhand smoke exposes you and your baby to many risks
Secondhand smoke has been classified as a Group A carcinogen1 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- this means that it is known to cause cancer in humans.
Regular exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of having a stillbirth, low birth weight, birth defects and a host of other pregnancy complications. Babies with low birth weight are more likely to have serious health problems than normal birth weight babies. What’s more, babies and children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at a higher risk of developing asthma, frequent lung and ear infections, allergies and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Quitting Smoking During Pregnancy
Quitting smoking at any point of time during your pregnancy is the best thing you can do for your baby.
Remember that there is no “safe” level of smoking during pregnancy. Quitting smoking at any stage during your pregnancy is the single best thing you can do for your baby. Even after just one day of not smoking, your baby will get more oxygen. If this is your second baby, remember that even though you may have smoked through your first pregnancy without any problems, it doesn’t mean that your second pregnancy will be the same. Every time you smoke during pregnancy, you put your baby’s health at risk.
Quitting is the single best thing you can do for you and your baby
Making the decision to quit smoking is the first step. Start by consulting your doctor or speak to a trained counsellor who can guide you. Planning ahead and building a quitting strategy that will work for you are the cornerstones to a successful quit journey. Make your home and car smoke-free zones and get rid of your cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays. Plan ahead on how you will deal with your smoking triggers. Avoid people and situations that make you turn to smoking and spend time instead with people who don’t smoke and in places where smoking is not allowed. Enlist the support of your friends, family and loved ones to help you stay committed to quitting. You may have withdrawal symptoms after you quit such as headaches, mood swings, appetite changes and cravings for cigarettes. Remember that these withdrawal symptoms are temporary; they are the strongest when you first quit but they will subside within 10-14 days. Read up on how you can manage your cravings and remind yourself that you can stay in control.
Take the first step and quit, YOU are in charge
Relapse After The Baby’s Birth
If you quit smoking during pregnancy, there is a risk of postpartum relapse that you need to be aware of. Life with a newborn baby can be stressful and you may be more vulnerable to relapsing during this time. Reach out to your family and friends for help so you can stay smoke-free. Counselling is one of the most effective ways to get support during this phase; seek out a trained counsellor who can help you. Remember that smoking during breastfeeding exposes your baby to many toxic substances through your breastmilk, as well as reduces your milk production. What’s more, smoking exposes your child to several harmful health effects for years to come.
Be aware of the risk of postpartum relapse
If you do relapse, don’t give up hope. Quitting smoking is not easy and most smokers have to try multiple times before they can succeed. It’s perfectly alright to take some time to find the quit method that works best for you. Don’t give up, every cigarette that you don’t smoke is helping you and your baby be healthier.
Using Quit-Smoking Aids During Pregnancy
Quit and give your baby the best possible start
If you’re pregnant, quitting cold turkey may seem like your only option but there are other ways to quit. Some people do consider using medication to help them quit, but the effect of using medication during pregnancy has not been adequately researched. The use of nicotine replacement aids is safer than smoking and this is an option offered by clinicians to pregnant women who want to quit smoking. There are a lot of misperceptions about e-cigarettes, but one of the most dangerous of these is the false belief that e-cigarettes are safe for pregnant women. The reality is that the toxic substances in e-cigarettes are harmful to developing babies and pregnant women are strictly advised against vaping. Speak to your doctor about your options to quit smoking, so you can decide on a course of action that’s best for you.
Quitting smoking during and after your pregnancy will help ensure that your baby has the best possible start in life. Give your baby that chance and let your pregnancy be the beginning of a renewed, smoke-free start for you and your family.