I remember when I found out that I was pregnant with my youngest son, I stumbled upon the pregnancy forum on Baby Center. Baby center has a birth club for the birth month and year that my baby was due so that you could connect with mothers who were experiencing the same things that you were. It almost seems like yesterday that I was busy surfing through the forums and counting down the weeks until my baby was born. During those first few weeks, I saw countless posts about mother’s who were frantic because they found out they were pregnant. Most of these women didn’t realize that they were pregnant until they were half way through their first trimester and they wanted to know how harmful cigarette smoking could be for their baby. There is no right answer for this question because there are a number of various consequences for smoking during pregnancy. Here are some possible examples of possible complications from smoking during pregnancy:
- My baby was perfectly normal.
- I had a miscarriage.
- My baby had difficulty breathing after being born.
- I had my baby prematurely.
- My baby passed away from SIDS.
- My baby was born early.
- My baby was born with a birth defect.
- My child had frequent ear infections and has asthma as a toddler.
Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only. Please talk to your OB/GYN or midwife if you have any questions or need help quitting smoking.
If you are currently pregnant or planning on getting pregnant it is best to try to quit smoking all together even if you have to slowly cut down on the number of cigarettes each day. Even if you cut down on smoking, your baby is still being exposed to the chemicals and the carbon monoxide is in your blood stream which decreases the amount of oxygen that your baby receives and lowers your baby’s risks.
Myth # 1 – I smoked with my first baby and my baby turned out fine. Will my next baby be fine?
Each and every pregnancy is different. Essentially, when you smoke a cigarette your baby is smoking too and could end up with potential health problems. When you smoke a cigarette, you deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients. The chemicals found in cigarettes is known to travel across the placenta to your baby, so it could harm your unborn baby.
Myth # 2 – I don’t smoke but my spouse or significant other smokes, should I be concerned?
Pregnant mothers should avoid being around people who smoke especially in confined spaces. Second hand smoke can be just as harmful as smoking a cigarette and carries the same risks. Even if you don’t smoke, it is important for an expectant mother’s to avoid being around second hand smoke as much as possible. If you are concerned about second hand smoke, talk to your doctor or midwife on how to talk to your spouse or significant other about smoking around you and the baby.
Myth # 3 – I smoked for several weeks during my pregnancy, why should I stop smoking now?
If you quit smoking at any point during your pregnancy, you will lower your baby’s risk for potential health problems. When you smoke, you are depriving your baby of oxygen and when you stop smoking you are giving your baby plenty of oxygen for proper growth and lung development. Quitting smoking always can prevent problems such as high blood pressure, problems with the placenta, premature rupture of membranes, and other potentially life threatening problems.
Myth # 4 – I don’t care if I have a small baby.
A baby that is born prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation) or weighs under 5lbs 8oz has a higher risk of potential long term health problems. Some of these problems include: respiratory distress syndrome, bleeding on the brain, heart defects, digestive issues, problems with their eye sight, asthma, ear infections, bronchitis, and other health problems.
Myth # 5 – Do I have to stop smoking cold turkey?
Many women feel like they have to give up smoking cold turkey; however, even pregnant women have options when it comes to quitting smoking. Talk to your OB/GYN or midwife, before you decide to stop smoking or using smoking cessation products. You will be more successful at quitting if you have a support system in place.
Myth # 6 – I will gain weight if I stop smoking.
Many people give up one habit and pick up another bad habit. If you decide to quit smoking, you should try to determine why you smoke? During pregnancy, it is important to get enough calories in your diet but you don’t need to go overboard or eat for two. If you find yourself heading to the pantry instead of smoking, you need to find something else to fill the time and to keep you busy. Instead, you can chew gum, find a new hobby, look for baby names, pick out baby items and put it on your baby registry, or suck on a piece of hard candy.
Come Up With A Plan
When you finally make the decision to quit smoking, you should come up with a plan so when the cravings kick in you have something tangible to look at and remind you about the decision you made. The plan can be a list of benefits, cons, goals, and milestones. As you meet your goals, you can check them off your list or if you mess up you can use the plan to help get you back on track.
Change Your Daily Habits
In order to be successful, you will need to change your daily habits so that your new habit will stick around. For example, if you find that you smoke after each meal. Instead, replace your smoke break with a walk around the block, start a load of laundry, or find something to distract you (find something that works for you). This will help reduce your urge to smoke a cigarette, especially, when you notice an urge with the old connection. Never replace smoking with snacking because that could lead to other issues once you have your baby such as obesity, food addictions, ect.
Have a Support System
A support system can make a huge difference when you are trying to quit smoking especially if your friends or co-workers are still smoking. When choosing support partners, you want to choose people who you can count on to help you when you are struggling. In fact, it is always best to have several people that you can rely on in case someone is busy when you need a listening ear. For example, if you are having a strong craving for a cigarette and you find that you are having a hard time resisting the urge, you can pick up the phone and call your friend. The goal of a support system is to distract you long enough so that the craving goes away and for the other person to help remind you in a loving way the reasons why you wanted to quit smoking.
Did you smoke while you were pregnant? If so, did you quit?
Resources March of Dimes: Low Birth Weight