Smoking while pregnant greatly increase the risk of complications in the mother and baby. This is because more than 4000 chemicals are reportedly found in cigarette smoke, including dangerous toxins such as carbon monoxide, nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, tars, resins, carcinogens and more than 60 cancer-causing agents.
Smoking while pregnant allows these hazardous substances to enter into the pregnant smoker’s bloodstream, and interfere with the amount of oxygen supply to her baby. Nicotine acts by constricting or narrowing blood vessels in every part of the body, even the blood supply to umbilical cord.
Scientific evidence has also revealed that smoking interferes with the absorption of folic, vitamins B and C in pregnant smokers. Inadequate folic acid can contribute to neural-tube defects among other common complications in babies born to pregnant smokers. As a matter of fact, it’s not all about your baby; occurrence of any smoking complication in your baby is nothing but a symptom of the illness it has produced in you.
Smoking complicates some symptoms of pregnancy such as morning sickness for the pregnant mom. It’s evident that women who smoke have increased chances of suffering ectopic pregnancy, placenta abruption, placenta previa, preterm rupture of amniotic membranes, a higher rate of miscarriage and other increased risk of illnesses such as lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and so on. Above all, pregnant smokers have higher mortality rate than non-smoking pregnant moms.
Smoking is known to present great health risks on fetal growth with possible severe complications and birth defects such as low birth weight, small-sized baby, neural-tube defects, limb-reduction malformation, pre-mature delivery, stillbirth and a high risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Studies have confirmed that nicotine was found in the urine of newborn babies whose moms smoked during pregnancy and nicotine is a known cancer-causing substance. Your pregnancy is too precious to be endangered, I can hear your baby craving from your womb, “Mom - stop it!”
Insufficient amount of oxygen can bring about catastrophic effects on the development and growth of your baby. Usually there are increased chances for the baby to be born early or with weight that is lower with about half a pound at birth than those born to nonsmokers. Smoking can affect your baby in the following ways:
Weight and Size: Intrauterine-growth retardation
Smoking while pregnant can greatly inhibit your baby’s growth and affect both its birth weight and size. Although no dose is safe during pregnancy, the risk of complications is observed to proportionally increase with increasing intake of cigarette. There’s a direct relationship between the number of cigarettes a woman smokes and the degree of risks suffered especially fetal growth retardation.
Body and Lungs
Premature babies who are underweight have usually under-developed systems. The lungs of most babies born to moms in habit of smoking while pregnant remains under-develop and there’s a very high risk such baby may need respirator for first few days or weeks after delivery. Once these babies start breathing on their own, they face frequent episodes of breathing problems and infections during infancy and are often prone to asthma in later childhood.
Smoking while pregnant is also associated with an elevated risk of congenital heart diseases in babies. Expecting moms in the habit of smoking while pregnant especially during the early pregnancy months are believed to put their babies at a high risk of being born with heart defect. These defects include obstruction of the flow of the blood supply to lungs from right side of the heart, and defects between the chambers of upper heart.
Lifelong mental effects can result from smoking while pregnant. Minimal-brain-dysfunction syndrome (hyperactivity), lower IQ scores coupled with learning and behavioral disorders are usually found to be higher in babies of pregnant smokers compared with children of non-smokers.
Research studies have evinced that it’s extremely dangerous to breath in environmental tobacco smoke which is described as the smoke that comes from the tip of a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe combined with breathed out fume from a smoker.
The findings confirmed that secondary smoke contains as much chemical substances as primary tobacco smoke and thus dangerous to the health of anyone exposed to it. In addition, fumes from automobile’s exhaust also contribute to this environmental hazard because it contains carbon monoxide – a major byproduct of tobacco smoking.
As a pregnant woman, make it a rule to stay away from places where there’s smoke, keep smokers away from your breathing space as much as possible, and make your environment a no-smoke zone.
Smoking and Pregnancy are no good combination for any reason!
The best gift you can ever give your baby is giving-up on your smoking habit or addiction even before you become pregnant. The quicker you quit your habit, the better it is for your baby. Even if you quit after knowing you’re pregnant (in the first 2 months), it isn't late and you can likely prevent your child from all possible complications.
A research validates that mothers, who desist from smoking in the first three months, will likely deliver healthy and normal sized babies just like any non-smoker mom. Second trimester marks the crucial time for your baby to grow in size and develop so if you don't quit smoking by then, the growth of your unborn baby will be hindered.
If you’re a pregnant smoker, it’s not too late to quit! Yes, we know it may be difficult but you’ve to get all the help you need in the best interest of your baby and YOU.
Caveat: Use of Nicoderm Patches, Nicorette Gum and Inhalers
Some products for kicking the habit of smoking have been confirmed to contain nicotine that can still pass across to the fetus, but other harmful toxins like carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke are eliminated. Although these products have been flagged as risky, however women who smoke heavily can enjoy the benefit of reducing their consumption with this kind of palliative treatment despite the possible risks.
Finally…hear this, “You can eat for two. But you must not smoke for two” Godrose Onajobi.
It’s recommended you quit smoking before becoming pregnant, as smoking while pregnant may result in grave complications that neither you nor your innocent baby may be able to afford.
Remember, the best way to take care of your unborn baby is to take care of yourself. Smoking and Pregnancy are counter-productive. Try to desist from smoking while pregnant in the best interest of your innocent baby whose life depends on it!