If you're pregnant and still smoking, you're not alone – some 17% of women carry on smoking throughout their pregnancy.
Which is not surprising, really, given how stressful pregnancy can be (and how many of us are used to coping with stressful situations by sneaking in the odd ciggie or two). But when you consider all that we now know about smoking in pregnancy, when you're essentially smoking for two, it's a bit of a shock that the figure's still as high as 17%.
So many studies, so few reasons to smoke in pregnancy...
There have been countless studies showing why smoking in pregnancy is harmful to your baby's health. And one of the most recent, coming out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has found that blood taken from kids up to five years old contains molecular evidence of the mother smoking while she was pregnant.
It's as though your baby's blood can remember the various toxic substances (like plastics and cigarette smoke) that it was exposed to in the womb, and these nasties can potentially continue harming your baby's health for up to five years after they're born. Researchers are hoping to one day make a link between these substances and chronic diseases such as autism, obesity and heart disease, so that they can cure and prevent them.
Just add that to this already long list of reasons to bag the fags now you're pregnant:
- Smokers are 25% more likely to suffer a miscarriage while pregnant. The chance of a premature birth is almost doubled if you smoke during pregnancy
- The babies of some smokers actually experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms after birth
- Smoking starves the foetus of oxygen, directly affecting your baby’s development
- Even passive smoking can harm your unborn child. On average, babies born to the partners of smokers weigh less than the babies of non-smoking parents
- The risk of cot death is almost trebled in children whose mothers smoke during and after pregnancy
If you can give up the cigarettes before you conceive or while you are pregnant, you'll be more likely to stay off the habit after the birth, too.
Considering the following facts may help you kick it for good:
- Breastfeeding mums who smoke produce less milk than non-smokers. Smokers’ breast milk contains fewer lipids and can be of poorer quality
- In the UK, 17,000 children under 5 are admitted to hospital each year with illnesses caused by passive smoking
- Up to 4,500 new cases of asthma are diagnosed in children every year as a result of parental smoking
- The risk of cot death is quadrupled for a child whose parents both smoke – even if you quit smoking while you were pregnant
While having been a smoker in your past isn’t going to affect an unborn baby now, there’s evidence that smoking even when trying to conceive can have a harmful health effect and hamper your chances of conception. Even if you couldn’t manage to give up before you got pregnant, cutting out the cigarettes now is really important for the health of your unborn baby and his future health, too.
Smoking in pregnancy
Your unborn baby relies on your blood supply to carry nutrients and oxygen for growth. When you’re smoking a cigarette, as well as starving your own system, you’re effectively passing that smoke on to the foetus inside you.
Smoking in pregnancy has been linked to incidences of miscarriage, cot death (sudden infant death syndrome) and there's also evidence to show that your baby could suffer asthma in childhood if you smoked during pregnancy.
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Additionally, smoking increases your chance of suffering from pregnancy dangers such as increased blood pressure, placental problems and bleeding. Imagine your heart having to work extra hard to keep up with your growing baby's demand for oxygen and then making everything in both your bodies have to work so much harder by inhaling cigarette smoke. Poor us! So really, when you think about it like that, there's actually nil point to smoking in pregnancy at all. that, there's reall
Giving up smoking
It's no big secret that it isn’t easy to give up smoking.
But understanding more about the baby you’re carrying and the dangers you’re putting yourself and your child in can help give you the impetus you need to cut it out of your life.
And if your partner or other people you live with smoke, it’s important to let them know there are real dangers from passive smoking, too. Try to get them to give up with you, or define places outside the home where they smoke away from you and your bump.
There's now more support than ever before to help you give up smoking. In fact, our very own NHS has some great tips for quitting smoking when you're pregnant, so just put your mind to it and do it. Or, rather, don't do it!
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