How Smoking During Pregnancy Affects You Baby And How To Quit It

How Smoking During Pregnancy Affects You Baby And How To Quit It

Smoking is the leading cause of birth defects, and it can even be lethal for your baby’s health. From premature babies to small sizes ones and babies that don’t survive, the hazards of smoking during pregnancy are many. Babies would be healthier if mothers would stop taking in cigarette smoke, first hand or second. Even conditions like hypertension and diabetes can be controlled with medication. But there is no cure for smoking except giving it up.Dangers of Smoking During Pregnancy Cigarette smoke contains more than 4 thousand chemical including lead, cyanide and at least sixty cancer-causing compounds.

When smoking during pregnancy, the toxicity enters the bloodstream. This is dangerous because it is the only source of oxygen and nutrients in your baby’s body. These lethal chemicals are toxic for your child. Two especially dangerous compounds are nicotine and CO/carbon monoxide. Most serious complications include low birth weight, premature delivery, and stillbirth. Nicotine chokes off the oxygen through the narrowing of blood vessels in the body, including those in the umbilical cord. This can cause breathing problems in your child. Additionally, RB or erythrocytes that carry oxygen instead pick up CO molecules leading to dangerous and lethal effects.

Impact of Smoking

A fetus is even more sensitive to nicotine than a full adult human. This can penetrate the placenta and damage growth. Lack of oxygen can lead to a damaging impact on the growth and development of the baby. On an average, smoking at the time of pregnancy increases the chances of low birth weight or less than 5.5 pounds of weight at birth. Smoking doubles the risk of stillbirth as well.

Every cigarette smoked raises the risks associated with pregnancy. Just a few cigarettes in a day can make the difference. The human body is sensitive to the first doses of nicotine every day and blood vessels tighten by just smoking a couple of cigarettes per day. The light habit has a serious impact on the health of your baby. Here’s a detailed account of how smoking impacts your baby.

Size and Weight

A pack a day is sure to create a problem when it comes to your baby’s birthweight. Smoking two packs in a day through the pregnancy can make lessen the baby’s birth-weight by a pound or more. Stunted growth in the womb can have a bad impact on your child’s health in later years.

Lungs and Body

Undersized babies have bodies that are not well developed. As a consequence, their lungs may not work independently of a respiratory device. Even if your baby managed to breathe on its own, there may be continuous and chronic lung problem because of adverse impacts of nicotine or delayed development of lungs. Other adverse effects of nicotine may also result. Children of mothers who smoke are also prone to asthma and a two or even threefold rise in risk of SIDS.

Defects in the Heart

A baby whose mother is a smoker during the first trimester of pregnancy will likely have a heart defect at birth. In the US CDC study published in 2011, a baby’s probability of developing congenital birth related heart defects was as high as 70 percent and a minimum of 20 percent higher in mums who smoked than mothers who did not smoke. The defects range from obstruction in the flow of blood from the right part of the heart to the lungs and the openings at the upper chambers of the heart. So atrial septal defects and obstructions of the right ventricular system were common in babies of mothers who smoked. Analysis of 2525 babies with heart defects at birth and 3435 healthy babies also found similar findings in a 1980s study.

Functioning of the Brain

Functioning of the Brain
Photo By: Pxhere/ CC BY

Additionally, smoking can impact the baby’s cerebral growth. Children of women who smoke may have lower IQs, behavioral issues, and learning problems.

DNA Impact

Pregnant women should also quit smoking if they want to protect their babies from DNA alterations and birth defects. Data on mothers and their newborn kids was analyzed to understand how smoking impacts DNA methylation. Researchers found women smoking during pregnancy had as many as 6073 places where their expected baby’s DNA methylation underwent a difference as opposed to DNA of babies whose mothers were non-smokers.

Many differences in DNA methylation were found in genes associated with lung and nervous system development. It also correlated smoking-related cancers and birth issues like cleft lip and palate to smoking. Researchers in the study of 6685 mothers and newborn infants found that 13 percent of the women were daily smokers and 25 percent were occasional smokers.

Analysis of methylation patterns was carried out through blood samples from the umbilical cord after delivery. Smoking-related methylation takes place in children of mothers who are smokers. Researchers also postulate the pregnant smoker may influence adversely how the DNA is deployed and programs in cells are altered in a manner that deters future health. Programs in the cells might adapt to response to smoking. Women who don’t quit smoking can cause serious damage to their child because smoking affects the child pre and post birth. Nicotine, arsenic, lead, and CO along with other poisons are directly reaching your baby.

Here are the impacts of smoking, in a summary.

It reduces the amount of oxygen available for your fetus and you. Additionally, smoking during pregnancy raises the heart rate of the baby. It also raises chances of stillbirth and miscarriage. The baby may also be hampered by a low birth-weight or be born prematurely and remain at increased risk for respiratory system issues. The more you smoke, the higher are the chances of development of a host of health issues.Currently, no safe or acceptable level of cigarette smoke ingestion exists for expectant mothers.

Secondhand Smoke: Equally Lethal

Secondhand, passive or environmental smoke from tobacco combines the smoking from the lit cigarette and the smoke released by the smoker. This smoke emanates from the cigar or cigarette end and it also exudes harmful substances like CO, tar, and nicotine. If your child and you are inhaling secondhand smoke, there are chances of cancer of the lung, cardiovascular diseases, allergies, asthma, emphysema and many other health issues. Fetuses exposed to smoke may also suffer from a lowered capacity of the lungs and SIDs.

You also increase chances of exposing your child to frequent colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, ear and cough problems, hypertension and learning as well as behavioral problems. Quitting smoking cuts down on the risk of cancer, heart disease and short lifespan for the mother and raises her energy levels, leading to improved health and fewer chances of allergies.

What You Can Do: How to Kick The Cigarette Butt For Good

Underlying these grim statistics is an amazing opportunity. A huge gift of health awaits children of mothers who quit smoking. Ideally, you should give up smoking before you try to conceive. It makes getting pregnant easier. In fact, research shows that smoking lowers the chances of conception in a cycle by as much as forty percent. When you should be eating, exercising well and getting ready for your baby’s birth, you need to be as strict about giving up on smoking as well. Even if you are smoking and discover you were pregnant, it is not too late. You can still give up on smoking and work towards quitting.

A 2009 study found in an August study that expectant mothers who gave up cigarettes in the first trimester had the same odds of delivering a healthy baby as non-smoking expectant mothers. Mothers who quit in the second trimester also increased their odds, but not by so much.

Post 14-16 weeks into the pregnancy, fetuses need to be putting on extra weight. If you are smoking at this stage, expect the growth of your baby to fall behind. Once you quit, the baby will get the oxygen required for growth. Doctors should be able to see a considerable change in the growth rate of the baby once this occurs. Even if smoking is carried out at thirty weeks or beyond, putting weight is easy for the baby as long as you don’t go back to the cigarettes.

Though aware of smoking and its consequences, many are not able to resist the nicotine cravings. This is why you need to ensure you don’t quit on your own without medical aid. Ask the doctor or support group for advice.

No single tip works for every person, as each individual varies in terms of his/her habits and susceptibilities to nicotine cravings but here are a few tips that can work.

Removal Of Stimuli That Encourages a Smoke

Hide your cigarette-lighter and matches or box of cigars or cigarettes along with the ashtrays. This can cut down on the motivation to smoke and give you a chance to get over the craving.

Try Meditation

Smoking is often associated with relaxation for the person that seeks to engage in this addiction. But instead of a harmful smoke, try a beneficial meditation session to let go of your anxieties and become a stronger, more confident person capable of resisting the urge of nicotine.

Avoid Stimulants

Stimulants like alcohol and coffee may urge you to smoke. It can be extremely harmful to your baby as well.

Adopt Positive Stress Management Techniques

Rather than succumbing to a smoke every time things get too stressful, work on how to cope with the worries without lighting up a cigarette. Take a walk, exercise or enjoy a book. Stay active and distract your mind from smoking as a means to relieve the tension.

Don’t think of nicotine replacement therapy, however. This can harm the fetus and even impact breastfeeding infants in a negative way. Try products that can replace smoking without harming your health such as mint or gum.

Benefits of Not Smoking

Benefits of Not Smoking
Photo By: Chuck Grimmett/ CC BY

The benefits of not smoking commence as soon as you kick the cigarette butt. Once you quit, your baby’s likelihood of developing breathing problems and an abnormal heart rate will lower. Symptoms of withdrawal may set in but these are temporary. Think about your reasons for quitting and stay strong. Withdrawal is way easier to cope with, but persisting with your smoking during pregnancy can have consequences difficult to live with. Expect periodic desires to light up. These cravings need to be countered with strong willpower and a tenacious purpose of mind.

The benefits of not smoking start within days of quitting. If the health outcomes for your baby are something no mother can compromise on, then does it make sense for you to smoke? Additionally, avoid passive smoke which contains dangerous substances. At the end of the day, you need to do everything you can possibly have done to ensure your baby remains healthy and strong. Quitting smoking is definitely at the top of the list

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