It’s a well known fact that smoking has major repercussions on your health, but when it comes to pregnancy, its harmful effects are magnified. Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious harm to your unborn baby.
This does not just apply to pregnant women who smoke; it also applies to pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke. In fact, it is scientifically proven that secondhand smoke contains more harmful substances than first-hand smoke!
How does smoking during pregnancy harm your baby?
If you are pregnant and inhale smoke, the smoke goes directly to the baby through your blood stream.
When an unborn baby is exposed to smoke, they are exposed to carbon monoxide, nicotine and over 4,000 chemicals. As a result, less oxygen reaches the baby and their heart rate increases because of their struggle to get enough oxygen.
Smoking can also affect the performance of the placenta, which is the tube that carries nutrients, oxygen and everything else to the baby.
Smokers’ babies have a high risk of being miscarried, stillborn and suffering from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This means that your smoking can very likely lead to the death of your baby before or shortly after it is born.
If a smokers’ baby survives pregnancy, they are likely to be born with smaller organs and lighter weight than babies born to non-smokers. Furthermore, the baby can be born with respiratory issues and other health problems.
Babies exposed to smoke during pregnancy are also more likely to develop internal and external birth defects, and suffer from learning difficulties and behavioral problems later in life.
What about smoking after your baby is born?
Smoking will still harm your baby after it is born. Secondhand smoke will still affect their body as negatively as during pregnancy. Chemicals will also be transmitted directly to the baby through breastfeeding.
What should you do?
Quit smoking before you become pregnant to avoid the temptation to smoke. There are plenty of resources available. All you need is some willpower and the knowledge that by quitting you are helping your baby live a healthy life.
As a plus, understand that smoking actually lowers your chances of pregnancy, so quitting will increase your chances of getting pregnant.
So whenever you crave a cigarette, think about all the harmful effects it could have on your baby and how it could even kill the baby during pregnancy. Your maternal instinct will beat your urge to smoke.
You can replace your smoking habit with other habits. For example, if you always smoke a cigarette after a meal, replace that habit with reading, listening to music or chewing on sugarless gum.
Make your family and people around you your support system; tell them about your decision to quit and have them help you by supporting you if you ever feel tempted.
Furthermore, ask smokers not to smoke around you, so that you don’t get tempted and so that you don’t breathe their secondhand smoke.