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Smoking while pregnant: learn more about the risks and why you are putting yourself, baby at risk

By Nancy Baker

For women, pregnancy is a perfect time to quit smoking. Smoking cessation during pregnancy will help you have more energy and feel better through your pregnancy.

It will also help you reduce future health risks like cancer, heart disease, and other lung problems. Smoking during pregnancy puts both you and the baby at risk. Over 1000 babies in the United States pass away every year due to their moms smoking while pregnant.

The merits of smoking cessation are great, but the process is complicated, especially because pregnancy comes with added stress in other areas of your life. Luckily, there are resources in place that can help you break this habit and ensure a safe pregnancy.

Smoking While Pregnant Facts

When a pregnant woman smokes, so does her baby. When smoking, you inhale poisons like carbon monoxide, lead, nicotine, and arsenic. These poisons get into the placenta, a tissue that connects the baby to the mother and sends nutrients and oxygen as well as eliminate waste.

The poisons then keep your unborn baby from getting the proper supply of oxygen and nutrients that she or he requires to grow.

Smoking while pregnant can also cause preterm delivery, low-birth weight, and infant death. Smoking during pregnancy has been estimated to account for up to 14% preterm deliveries, 20-30% of low-birth-weight infants, and about 10% of infant death as per the American Lung Association.

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There are also added risks to women who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke also puts you at a higher chance of delivering a baby that weighs less and could have further health difficulties.

Women who smoke during pregnancy also expose their babies at an increased risk of having lung problems, colds, physical growth problems, and learning disabilities.
If the woman continues to smoke even after the baby is born, the child may get more coughs, colds, and middle-ear infections. Because infants have small lungs, cigarette smoke makes it harder for them to breathe correctly, which could cause your baby to get pneumonia and bronchitis.

Third-hand smoke can also cause serious health issues for young children. Kids exposed to third-hand smoke are at an increased risk of breathing problems, asthma, cancer, and learning disabilities. This is the contamination that comes from cigarette smoking.

With every cigarette, these toxins keep building up over time. Even though you don’t think that third-hand smoke is as harmful as first and second-hand smoke, it also has serious effects just the same and also affects your baby’s health. This is because it is made up of toxins and gases that remain in clothes, carpets, hair, drapes, and furniture.

With their brains still developing, babies are much more susceptible to toxins. Also, because babies are closer to surfaces that potentially absorb layers of toxins, contaminated surfaces are more dangerous for them.

Hence, pregnant women and young babies should stay away from places where continuous smoking happens. We also recommend consulting your health care provider before using nicotine replacement or other cessation aids because they can still affect your unborn baby.

Benefits of Smoking Cessation

For You

· More energy throughout your pregnancy
· Lowers risks of future health issues like cancer, heart disease, and lung problems
· Saves you the money you can spend on baby items instead.

For baby

· Increases supply of oxygen and nutrients for your baby
· Lowers the risk of preterm delivery and your baby being underweight
· Reduces risks of health problems for your baby
· Lowers the risks of SIDS and increases the chances of your baby going home with you.

While trying to quit, the process can be challenging, and sometimes some women find it easier to keep smoking than dealing with withdrawals. Here are some quick tips for you:

· Write a list with all your reasons to quit and look at it every time you feel the urge to smoke
· Keep your mouth and hands busy
· Find a support person you can always call whenever you feel like smoking
· Avoid surrounding yourself with people who smoke and avoid being in places that are not smoke-free.

Nancy Baker is a founder of CHILDMODE where you can learn more about smoking and pregnancy.

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