Is It Safe To Smoke During Pregnancy?

smoke during pregnancy

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Smoking has been proven to be a sure shot way to welcome cancer the world over. While you are pregnant, you have to be extra careful when it comes to smoking or hanging around smokers. While the habit is easy to shake off if you are not an addict, if you have been a chain smoker, you may face a great challenge to curb the same once you get pregnant. Withdrawing from smoking while pregnant can be a huge struggle for those who are used to the nicotine rush.

Women who smoke have slimmer chances of conceiving and once they do, they need to alter their lifestyle tremendously – the one that does not have cigarette puffs anywhere! This is easier said than done, particularly for the groups who have been smoking for many years and the habit has become a core part of their life routine.

It would be useful to understand the effects of smoking during pregnancy and how it affects the growth of your baby inside the womb.

What Are The Dangers Of Smoking During Pregnancy?

It is stated that smoking is more dangerous than alcohol or even drugs. While all of the mentioned habits are disastrous for a baby, smoking in particular does a significant amount of damage to the developing fetus inside the womb.

  • Babies born to smokers are underweight, underdeveloped and born with many physical and mental defects. Most times, these babies go on to become the individuals with lesser cognitive and intellectual capabilities as compared to their peers.
  • Cigarette smoke consists of life taking chemicals like cyanide and lead. There are 4000 chemicals and 60 other cancer causing contents in cigarettes that directly affect and hinder the healthy development of babies while inside the uterus.
  • The nicotine and carbon monoxide present in cigarettes cut off the oxygen supply to the growing fetus by a large ratio, impacting the overall growth. Nicotine cuts off the oxygen supply through umbilical cord by narrowing the blood vessels, making it very difficult for the baby to breathe inside.
  • The red blood cells that carry oxygen begin to carry carbon monoxide to the baby instead, resulting in many growth defects.
  • Smoking during pregnancy leads to adverse results such as miscarriage, still birth, premature birth, low birth weight and babies born with deformities.
  • Women who smoke during their pregnancies may go on to have slimmer or absolutely no chances of conceiving again.

[ Read : Alcohol During Pregnancy ]

5 Serious Effects Of Smoking On Your Baby:

Because of the oxygen cut down during pregnancy as a reaction to smoking nicotine and carbon monoxide, your baby’s overall development is significantly hindered during the three trimesters. This results in many physical and mental deformities in the newborns. Sometimes, the newborns have minimal chances of survival if some of the defects cannot be dealt with during the post natal care.

Here are some of the serious effects caused on the newborn babies:

1. Low Birth Weight:

Babies born to the smoking mothers are usually born with lowest birth weights.

  • This is a direct result of cigarette smoking during pregnancy.
  • The babies born with a significant low birth weight often require serious post natal care to cope with the post-delivery weight management.

2. Small Body And Lungs:

Babies are born with small bodies and underdeveloped lungs. The delayed lung formation is because of nicotine content in smoking.

  • Most times, the babies are delivered with lungs not fully developed, which means that they can’t breathe on their own.
  • The newborns with breathing difficulties require assistance of a respirator in the initial few days after the delivery till they are self-sustaining with manageable lungs.
  • Some babies are also strongly prone to Asthma and are exposed to the sudden death infant syndrome (SIDS).

[ Read : Caffeine During Pregnancy ]

3. Defective Heart:

Mothers who would have smoked even in the first trimester will give birth to babies with defective heart.

  • Smoking causes congenial heart defects in the growing fetus, thus resulting in newborns with the same condition even after delivery.
  • The babies are either born with right ventricular outflow tract obstructions (obstructed flow of blood from the right side of the heart into lungs) or atrial septal defects (openings between the upper chambers of the heart).

4. Weak Cognitive Function:

The brain development of the baby gets directly impaired due to smoking.

  • Babies born to smokers have serious cognitive issues such as learning disorders, behavioral problems, low IQ, etc.
  • Most times, these babies will grow up to become slow and disoriented.
  • Few cases also turn into chronic subjects of mental disorders requiring life-long medical attention.

5. Physical Deformities:

Babies born to smokers are likely to be born with physical deformities as well.

  • This is mostly due to the effects of nicotine and carbon monoxide.
  • The oxygen cut off to the baby via umbilical cord causes uneven physical growth pattern.

6 Measures To Tackle Smoking:

When you are pregnant, it becomes more of a personal responsibility to mend your addictions. This is another life that we are talking about, and what you practice in the form of physical and emotional routine becomes a major part of your baby’s. If you are an addict, you are understandably in a tougher situation than the rest, as it is not easy to shake off the habit just like that.

[ Read : Green Tea During Pregnancy ]

Adopting certain useful measures should help you address the issue of smoking during pregnancy:

  1. Medical counseling and therapy to keep a tab on withdrawal period. You may require professional help with serious addiction.
  2. Support groups are available to share and understand. Do not hesitate to talk it out with those sailing in the same boat.
  3. Emotional support from your partner and loved ones in kicking the habit helps to a great extent.
  4. Frequent health checkups to track your baby’s growth inside as you fight it out will keep you in charge of the situation.
  5. Being educated and informed about the seriousness of the issue motivates you to deal with the addiction better.
  6. Strong willed efforts to stay away from the habit wins the battle hands down.

[ Read : Steroids During Pregnancy ]

Making an honest, responsible effort to kick the habit makes a lot of difference to you and your baby. Talk to your doctor to get more inputs on altering the lifestyle and making healthier and better choices.

Have a similar story to share on smoking and pregnancy? Do not forget to comment below.

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Deepa Balasubramanian