Cigarette smoke comprises over 4000 chemicals and these include elements such as cyanide, lead, and at least 60 cancer-causing compounds. Smoking at the time of pregnancy can cause the toxic substances to enter into the blood stream, which happens to be the only source of nutrients and oxygen for your baby.
Two more substances present in cigarettes are particularly extremely harmful: carbon monoxide and nicotine. These elements are the cause of smoking-related complications at the time of pregnancy. These two toxic substances work together to decrease the supply of oxygen to your baby. This can have a severely damaging effect on the growth and development of your baby.
Here are some effects of smoking during pregnancy.
Brain risks- Smoking at the time of pregnancy can have long term effects on the brain of the baby. It has been found that children of smoking mothers were at a higher risk of facing behavioural issues, learning disorders and low IQs.
Heart defects- Children whose mother smoked during pregnancy are likely to face a heart defect at the time of birth.
Weight issues – Every pack you smoke is causing your baby to lose around half a pound of weight. This is one of the crucial dangers of smoking while pregnant. Arresting a baby’s growth in the womb can have damaging consequences on the physical and mental health of the child. Babies that are undersized will most likely have underdeveloped brains. They are at a high risk of developing asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Premature birth –. Premature birth rates have been increasing since the last few years. Research has shown a connection between early delivery and smoking.
Some risks that are associated with preterm birth are:
- Visual and hearing impairments
- Mental disability
- Learning and behavioural problems
- Complications that could result in death
- Smoking increases the chance of stillbirth and miscarriage
If you want to have kids and are trying to get pregnant, the first crucial step is to quit smoking. It is not just bad for the health; it can even prevent you from getting pregnant in the first place. Active and passive smoking can reduce fertility in women and men.
There are several programs available to help you quit smoking. You can ask your doctor to guide you about the many ways you can kick the habit.
Also Read: Also Read: Health Effects of Smoking
Here are some tips to help you quit:
- Get rid of your lighters, matches, and other things that you use to smoke.
- Decide that your home will be a non-smoking area.
- Stay away from people who smoke.
- Reduce your intake of caffeinated beverages. Stay away from alcohol too as it can increase your urge to smoke.
- Change your habits that are connected with smoking. For example, if you smoked while driving or while walking to office, replace with other activities.
- Keep chewing gum and mint handy to pop it in the mouth when you get the urge to smoke.
- Being physically active is the key to keep your mind off smoking. It helps to deal with the side effects of smoking. Engage in different activities to keep yourself occupied.
- Support from other smokers who are trying to quit can be very helpful. You can consider joining a support group in your area to stay motivated on your journey.
- Avoid going to places where people smoke such as restaurants and bars.
- Nicotine patches and gum release nicotine in the bloodstream. While these can help to decrease the withdrawal symptoms and help avoid cravings in smokers, it might not be a safe option for pregnant women.
The benefits of not smoking begin the day you stop smoking. You may face withdrawal symptoms as your body is addicted to nicotine. You may experience the cigarette cravings, feel irritable, get headaches and have difficulty focusing. However, these symptoms are temporary and will go away within a couple of weeks.
Also Read: Secondhand smoke
When you experience the withdrawal symptoms, stay in control and remind yourself about the reasons why you want to quit smoking. Keep in mind that withdrawal symptoms are easier to deal with than having to treat major ailments. In case you relapse, do not lose hope. Plan ahead and prepare well for ways to avoid smoking and its risks during especially pregnancy.