Smoking can prevent you from getting pregnant in the first place. And if you continue to smoke during pregnancy, the consequences for both mother and child can be severe. For instance, smoking significantly increases the chances of complications, some of which can be fatal for both mother and child.
Each cigarette contains over 4000 harmful chemicals such as nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar. Even the secondhand smoke is a carcinogen. It is important to remember that each time you smoke you are causing significant damage to your unborn baby as cigarettes can restrict the life-nurturing oxygen supply to your baby. This puts extra pressure on your baby’s heart forcing it to beat harder.
Defects Caused By Smoking
It is essential to understand that when you smoke, your baby also inhales the smoke. Some of the serious complications that occur because of smoking during pregnancy are:
- Miscarriage And Stillbirth: Smoking has been known to cause genetic defects in the fetus. Even second hand smoke can be harmful enough to cause miscarriages and stillbirths.
- Ectopic Pregnancy: It has been observed that smoking can cause the fallopian tube to contract resulting in ectopic pregnancy. This is a complication where the embryo attaches outside the uterus, mostly inside the fallopian tube. Classic symptoms are abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. Severe Bleeding may result in fast heart rate, fainting or shock, Foetal survival is rare. This type of pregnancy is not sustainable and the embryo must be removed to avoid life-threatening complications to the mother.
- Placental Abruption: The placenta is the organ that supplies food and oxygen to the baby during pregnancy. Placental abruption is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the womb (uterus) before delivery. The most common symptoms are vaginal bleeding and painful contractions. The cause is unknown, but high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, cocaine or alcohol use, injury to the mother, and having multiple pregnancies increase the risk for the condition. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and can range from bed rest to an emergency cesarean section. A pregnancy cannot be viable without a healthy placenta. Smoking has been known to cause the separation of the placenta from the uterus. It can lead to severe bleeding and life-threatening conditions both for the mother and the baby.
- Placenta Previa: It is a condition when the placenta stays in the lower part of the uterus instead of growing towards the top of the womb. This can cause the cervix to completely open up causing excessive bleeding and keeping the fetus from receiving vital nutrients and growing well.
- Preterm Birth: Smoking can cause the baby to be born too early. This can lead to some lifetime complications such as visual and hearing impairments, mental disability, learning and behavioural problems and sometimes, even untimely death.
- Low Birth Weight: Smoking during pregnancy can also cause low birth weight, which can lead to complications such as developmental delay, cerebral palsy and other hearing and vision-related ailments, and even death.
- Birth Defects: Smoking has been known to cause several birth defects such as congenital heart defects and some related to the structure of the heart.
- SIDS: Studies have shown that smoking is the primary cause for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Ways to Quit
Now that you know of some of the dangerous and life-threatening conditions that result from smoking, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It is also the most wonderful gift you can give to your child. Here are some ways to help you quit:
- Cold Turkey: While there are numerous ways available to help you quit, going cold turkey is often the best way. It refers to the abrupt cessation of a substance dependence and the resulting unpleasant experience, as opposed to gradually easing the process through reduction over time or by using replacement medication If you think you can slowly wean off yourself, chances are you will go back to smoking just the same way very soon.
- Antidepressants: If you consult your physician, they might sometime prescribe antidepressants which are often used as anti-smoking drugs too. It’s important to inform the physician about your stage of pregnancy.
- Counselling: There is a possibility that none of the methods mentioned above work for you. In that case, you might want to seek some professional help you to quit smoking.
- Support Groups: There are a number of support groups available, as sometimes the road to quitting smoking can feel like a very lonely one. It can give one added motivation if there are other people trying to quit too.
While quitting smoking is the best gift you can give yourself, it would be helpful to adopt some healthy habits along the way:
- Start a walking regime which can improve your overall health too.
- Adopt a reading habit
- You could chew some gum when you feel like smoking. It will help keep your mouth busy and mind away from smoking.
- Identify the triggers for smoking and deal with them consciously to avoid picking up a cigarette.
- Having a strong support system will help you as this is not a habit you can give up in a day.
- Congratulate yourself for taking the first step by deciding to quit.