Is It Ever Safe to Smoke During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy gives you a big incentive to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but it also complicates some of your favorite pastimes. So where does pregnancy leave mothers-to-be who were smokers before they got the news? Below are all the details you need on why you should kick the habit for good and steps you can take to cut back and eventually be smoke-free.
Why It’s Crucial to Quit
Smoking while you’re pregnant is bad for your health and your baby’s development. Continuing to smoke will make you prone to ectopic pregnancy where a fertilized egg grafts itself outside of the womb and grows in size. This condition can result in devastating consequences for a pregnant female and requires surgical intervention in most cases.
Also, frequent intake of smoke-based nicotine can increase the odds of a wide range of complications, including premature delivery, early rupture of the membrane, and abnormal implantation. You can even experience difficulties with the placenta because the side-effects of smoking may cause the placenta to detach itself from the uterus’ wall before birth. A condition known as placenta previa may also occur, where the placenta sits at the bottom of the womb and obstructs all or part of the cervix.
What about the baby? Smoking during pregnancy can markedly increase the risk of early birth or low birth weight. Also, the child can experience defects at birth, including ailments in the mouth known as cleft palate or cleft lip. Smoking can also downgrade the overall health of the baby, including how his or her motor skills function.
Besides that, smoking can lower the amount of oxygen available to your baby and increase the risk of respiratory problems. Finally, smoking can double the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
What About Secondhand Smoke?
Even if you don’t put a cigarette in your mouth, your child’s health will still suffer if those around you smoke. Pipes and cigars can be even more damaging as they’re not smoked in the same manner, and the byproducts they release include greater quantities of carcinogens.
The takeaway? It’s best to avoid secondhand smoke and ask people around you to smoke somewhere else. Even after birth, you should keep secondhand smoke at bay because it can cause health problems for your newborn, such as bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tubes that deliver air to the child’s lungs), asthma, and ear infections.
Can I smoke E-cigarettes?
Liquid cigarettes, which are said to contain less nicotine and fewer toxins than conventional smoke, still carry enough contaminants to potentially harm your child. In fact, vaping can lead to nicotine-related poisoning, which can be deadly for both the mother and the baby. Other harmful effects to a soon-to-be mother include vomiting, breathing problems, and belly cramps.
Additionally, since the bans and regulations regarding e-cigarettes are ever-evolving, it’s difficult to know just how much harmful material you’re exposing yourself and your child to. The flavorings and additives placed in many liquid cigarettes may also be harmful when you’re carrying a baby. Put simply, you’re better off dropping the idea of smoking e-cigarettes altogether.
How to Quit Smoking?
If you’re like the majority of smokers, quitting is not going to be easy. With that said, a personalized plan can help you prepare to quit. The plan should involve a way to gradually curb the habit. A good idea is to stay away from emotional triggers that increase your desire to smoke, like when you’re lonely or stressed. Realizing what your triggers are can help you determine how to replace the moments that tempt you to smoke with activities that are healthy for your body.
For example, you can go for a light walk to divert your mind from smoking. Other activities include engaging yourself in a hobby that keeps your hands busy (think sewing or woodworking) or popping a piece of gum in your mouth. Another good tactic is to get rid of smoking accessories, like ashtrays and matches. While you may not realize the impact, eliminating smoke-related things from your surroundings can go a long way in helping you to drop the habit forever.
If you like socializing, you can try a group approach to being smoke-free, which will also get you much-needed support. Consider programs hosted by the American Lung Association, Smokenders, and Nicotine Anonymous. Pregnant women who’re trying to curb the habit can also visit smokefree.gov for additional help and information.
Quitting smoking is never an easy feat, but doing all you can to give your baby a smoke-free life, both in the womb and out, is one of the most crucial gifts you can give. Fortunately, there are several great ways you can kick the habit. While the above-mentioned steps should help you find success, you can also give NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) a shot if you’re not progressing fast enough. This helps curb your craving by delivering small, controlled doses of nicotine.
Regulated NRT may be safe during pregnancy and can improve the chances of quitting smoking, especially when coupled with behavioral support. It’s best to talk to your healthcare provider to get guidance about your individual situation before you begin NRT.