Smoking During Pregnancy
The risks of smoking, and of second-hand cigarette smoke, are well known.
Around 82% of lung cancer deaths is caused by smoking, as is 30% of all cancer deaths, 25% of all cases of heart disease and over 80% of deaths from smoking-related lung conditions like emphysema and bronchitis. Smoking also doubles the risk of stroke. Smoking in pregnancy has a whole range of additional health risks and can be detrimental to your pregnancy and well being. It reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach your baby.
It raises the risk of miscarriage by 27%, increases your chances of premature birth and increases the risk of stillbirth and other pregnancy complications.
Smoking in pregnancy is also linked with having a small or light baby, and babies born under a certain weight tend to have health problems, even when born close to their pregnancy due dates. Smoking while pregnant may also affect your baby’s developing lungs. According to British researchers writing in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the lung function of babies born around seven weeks prematurely whose mothers smoked was worse than infants of the same size whose mothers did not smoke.
Smoking affects your baby after birth, too. Second-hand or passive smoking is linked with an increased risk of developing respiratory illness, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or cot death, wheezing and asthma, plus frequent colds and ear infections. The good news, though, is that it’s never too late to kick the habit. According to Professor Sir Richard Peto from the Radcliffe Infirmary at Oxford, giving up has huge benefits for your baby and for you. When you give up smoking:
- After just 8 hours, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels are cut by half
- After just 8 to 10 hours, oxygen levels return to normal
- After just 24 hours, carbon monoxide is eliminated
- After just 48 hours, nicotine is eliminated
- Within 3 days, breathing becomes easier
- Your risk of developing smoking-related illness drops.
- People who stop smoking before the age of 35 survive about as well as life-long non-smokers.
If you want to stop but don’t know how, here are some tips to help:
- set a date to quit; make it a date that is right for you and stick to it
- be aware of the situations or times that you like or want to smoke, then try to create a new routine
- be prepared to distract yourself or take yourself out of a smoking environment and, as much as possible, avoid the places you associate with smoking.
- always keep in mind the health risks of smoking and the huge benefits of giving up for all of you – not just health, but financially, too
- the day before quit day, remove all cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and paraphernalia from your home. Take every day one at a time and reward yourself emotionally for doing so well.
Enlisting the help and support of friends and family, and especially your partner, is an essential part of giving up successfully. Talk with your partner about why you need his support and what it means to you to give up both for you and for your baby. There is no doubt that giving up is easier if your partner supports you.
Experts stress the importance of encouraging adults to stop smoking in order to help prevent children from taking up the habit, too. Smoking is an addiction, a habit strengthened by use a number of times each day and you may find that the urge to smoke is often linked with certain emotions, feelings and situations.
If you’re serious about giving up, you’ll need help and support. Speak with your doctor about information and support groups in your area, plus where to get advice and support at the end of a telephone. There are also special smoking-cessation programs for pregnancy. And you don’t have to feel alone. Cutting out cigarettes is one of the single most important things you can do for your baby’s health.
Talk to your doctor or midwife. Be realistic, be prepared and give it up.