For women, pregnancy is the perfect time for smoking cessation. You will have more energy and feel better throughout your pregnancy. You will immensely reduce your risk of future health conditions like cancer, heart disease, and other lung problems.
Women who smoke during pregnancy also put their unborn babies at risk. In the U.S, over 1000 babies die due to their mothers smoking during pregnancy.
The benefits of quitting are great, but the process of cessation can be hard, mainly because the pregnancy itself is an added stress. Luckily, there are resources to help you quit and make the journey a little easier.
Facts on Smoking While Pregnant
When a pregnant woman smokes, so does her baby. Through smoking a cigarette, you inhale poisons like lead, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and arsenic. The toxins then get into the placenta, the tissue that connects your baby to you and sends nutrients and oxygen as well as eliminates wastes.
When these poisons pass through to the baby, they keep the fetus from getting the proper supply of oxygen and nutrients that the baby needs to grow in the first place.
Smoking while pregnant can also lead to preterm delivery, low-birth weight, and infant death, with an estimation of up to 14% preterm deliveries, 20%-30% low-birth-weight babies, and about 10% of infant deaths according to the American Lung Association.
Second-hand smoking also puts a pregnant woman at added risk with a higher chance of birthing a baby who weighs too little and having health problems. Pregnant women who smoke during pregnancy also put their babies at risk of having more lung problems, colds, physical growth problems, and learning disabilities.
Where a mother continues to smoke, even giving birth exposes the baby to more risks of coughs, colds, and middle-ear infections. Because babies have small lungs, cigarette smoke makes it harder for them to breathe properly. This can also cause the child to get pneumonia or bronchitis.
Babies and young kids who were exposed to third-hand smoke have increased risk of breathing problems, asthma, cancer, and learning disabilities. This contamination that also occurs from cigarette smoking allows more toxins to build up over time. Even though third-hand smoking is not as prevalent as first and second-hand smoke, it equally has just as serious effects.
It is often made up of toxins and gases that remain in people’s hair and clothes, furniture, carpet, and drapes. Because infants and young children’s brains are still developing, they are highly susceptible to even the smallest levels of toxins.
They are also in close proximity to surfaces that readily absorb these toxins, which makes third-hand smoke more dangers to them than adults.
To be safe, pregnant women and small children are recommended to stay away from places where smoking occurs.
We also recommend that you talk with your health care provider first before using any nicotine replaces or other cessation aids. It is essential first to find out if it will be beneficial for both you and the baby or it could cause future health effects for your child.
Nicotine patches and gum release nicotine into the bloodstream of a pregnant woman trying to quit smoking. Although they can decrease smoking cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms in those trying to quit, the safety of NRT should be carefully evaluated in a pregnant woman.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, nicotine patches and gum should be considered in a pregnant woman only after all other non-drug treatments such as counseling, have failed.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy should only be considered in pregnant women if there is an increased likelihood of smoking cessation, with all its potential benefits, that outweighs the unknown risk of potential smoking and nicotine replacement.