Everyone knows smoking isn’t good for you. But how does smoking during pregnancy affect your unborn baby? 13% of women report that they smoked during the last three months of their pregnancy, according to the CDC. When is the best time to quit and can quitting during any point of pregnancy be helpful?
Smoking During Pregnancy
When you think about how toxic cigarette smoke is, containing 4,000 chemicals, including lead, cyanide, and carcinogens, it’s not surprising that it’s harmful not only to you, but also your unborn baby. Those chemicals go right into your bloodstream and through to your baby in utero. It’s cumulative, too – every time you light up, it increases the risks to you and your baby.
How Does Smoking During Pregnancy Affect You and Your Baby?
•Miscarriage and Stillbirth – smoking raises your risk of both, sometimes caused by placenta problems or the slow fetal development caused by smoking
•Ectopic pregnancy – smoking gives you an up to five times greater risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
•Placental abruption – smoking increases your risk of the placenta separating from the uterus before birth, risking not only the life of the baby, but you the mother as well
•Placenta Previa – smoking raises your risk of the placenta staying in the lower part of the uterus, covering the cervix, or tearing and causing excessive bleeding, which again risks the life of mother and child
•Prematurity – the likelihood of having a premature baby doubles when you smoke during pregnancy, and there are many health risks associated with preemies, including hearing impairment and mental disability
•Birth Defects – smoking in the first trimester gives your baby a 20-70% higher risk of birth defects of the heart
•Low Birth Weight – smoking doubles the chances that your baby will weigh under 5.5 pounds, which can mean more health problems
•Learning Disorders and Behavioural Problems – smoking during pregnancy increases the likelihood of your child having these problems, and even lowers their IQ
When and How to Quit
When is the best time to quit? Before conception is the best time, since smoking has a major impact on fertility. Once you have become pregnant, the sooner you quit smoking the better. You can especially improve your baby’s health if you quit during the first trimester. If you’re trying to quit, check out the Smoking Cessation Learning Center for some help, or talk to your doctor about the different methods for quitting this dangerous habit.
Did you quit smoking before or during pregnancy? Please share in the comments below!