Many pregnant women, who find it hard to go without a puff, are guilty of smoking despite knowing all the harmful effects it has on their unborn baby.
Not giving up cigarettes, however, can have long-term adverse effects on your future baby’s health and development. Quitting, as we know, benefits the body and mind.
The number of maternal smokers who smoke and endanger the health of their unborn babies is troubling. The 2011 Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS), which collates data from 24 states in the US, shows that about 10% of women smoke during the last trimester of their pregnancies.
Approximately 55% of them stop when they find out that they are pregnant. Unfortunately, about 40% of the women who quit start smoking again within six months of their children’s births.
7 Ways Smoking While Pregnant Harms Your Unborn Baby
So, how does cigarette smoke jeopardize an unborn baby’s health? Here’s some insight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
1. Cell Damage
First of all, smoking while pregnant may damage cells, particularly to those in the lung and brain. Research points to links between maternal smoking and babies with cleft lips.
Maternal smoking may also trigger stillbirths. Tobacco has carbon monoxide, which prevents a baby from getting oxygen. Of course, it also contains chemicals that harm unborn babies.
3. Premature births
Research shows that mothers who smoke are more likely than those who don’t give birth prematurely. Furthermore, preterm births often lead to death, disease, and disability, according to studies.
4. Low Birth Weight
Statistics show that one in every five babies born to pregnant smokers is underweight. Mothers who inhale secondhand smoke are also likely to have babies with low birth weights. Moreover, research proves that these babies are not healthy.
5. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Besides, these findings show that babies born to mothers who smoke or had exposure to secondhand smoke are three times more prone to SIDS than other babies.
6. Weak Lungs
The same studies also show that mothers who smoked while pregnant or who had secondhand exposure to smoke gave birth to babies with weak lungs. That creates many health concerns.
7. Heart Defects
Babies born to mothers who smoked during the first trimesters of their pregnancies were likely to have heart defects. A study by the CDC showed that these babies were 20 to 70% more likely than those who were born to non-smoking mothers to have problems with right ventricular flow. They also developed obstructions in the upper chambers of the heart.
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Not smoking will enhance your well being as well as your baby’s. Here’s how.
- Oxygenation. You will, first of all, take in more oxygen when you don’t smoke, and by extension, so will your baby. Quit for just a day, and you’ll notice a difference in your health, and that of your baby’s.
- Lower risk of premature birth. There is also less risk that you will give birth prematurely.
- Decreased risk of stillbirth. Also, there is less chance of stillbirth or early death if you stop lighting up. The chances of protecting your baby’s life are high.
- Low risk of disease. Furthermore, you and your baby will not develop smoke-related illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and lung cancer, the disease that has the most significant link with smoking.
- Increased energy. Not smoking will also increase your strength and endurance. You and your unborn baby will breathe better.
- No odors. Another way that not smoking will benefit you is that your clothes will smell better. And then, smoking doesn’t do wonders for your breath. You’ll need to stop for it to improve.
- Improved taste. Nicotine will affect your sense of taste. Consequently, will enhance the flavor of your food.
- Savings. Cigarettes are expensive. You will save more money than if you didn’t smoke.
In all, every pregnant woman should seriously consider quitting smoking as it is a boon for her health and her young ones.