You’re probably aware that it’s harmful to smoke during pregnancy – at the same time, it can be very hard to kick the habit, particularly if you’re feeling stressed. The aim here isn’t to frighten you; instead, it’s to provide you with the facts you need to make an informed decision. Scary as some of these points are, they can serve as motivation to quit smoking.
Smoke Contains Harmful Toxins and Increases Miscarriage Risk
Smoking is among the top miscarriage risk factors. Think of it this way: Everything you consume during pregnancy makes its way into your bloodstream and has an effect on your growing baby. There’s no exception for nicotine and the byproducts of smoking: Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals including carbon monoxide, arsenic, ammonia, and formaldehyde.
Higher Fetal Heart Rate, Lower Oxygen Intake
Smoking raises your baby’s heart rate, which is already at a rapid 120 to 160 beats per minute by week 11. Additionally, it decreases the amount of oxygen that makes its way to your baby. Incredibly, stopping smoking has immediate benefits for your little one: For example, his or her oxygen level will improve within one day of your quitting.
Increased Physical Discomfort for Mom
Most pregnancies come with discomfort. Smoking can increase your misery throughout your pregnancy, making it more difficult to breathe when your lungs are crowded, reducing your energy level, and preventing your body from getting the oxygen it needs. Your heart, veins, and organs are all adversely affected by cigarette smoke, and this makes everything much harder.
Lower Birth Weight, Higher Risk of Birth Defects
Every puff you take has a harmful effect, preventing oxygen and nutrients from making their way to your baby. According to the US CDC, this can lead to tissue damage and in increased risk for birth defects in the brain, lungs, and elsewhere. Low birth rate is another risk associated with smoking during pregnancy: One in five babies born to smokers have below-normal birth weights.
Greater Risk of Placenta Problems
Problems with the placenta put you and your baby at risk. One example involves the placenta separating from the uterus too early, causing bleeding and sometimes leading to miscarriage.
An Elevated Risk for Preterm Delivery
Important developmental milestones take place during the final weeks of pregnancy; for example the lungs, liver, and brain are in their final stages of completion. Being born too early increases the risk of death or severe disability. Some associated problems include cerebral palsy, breathing and vision problems, hearing impairment, cleft palate, and developmental delay.
Increased Risk of SIDS
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has no known cause, but its incidence is increased in babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy. The short- and long-term effects of this tragedy affect entire families. You can decrease the risk by giving up cigarettes now.
The good news is that now is the perfect time to quit, and thanks to a variety of smoking cessation programs, it’s possible to be supported along every step of this important transformation. Form great habits now and treat yourself – and your little one – to a healthy life.