Smoking and Pregnancy: Separating Myth from Reality

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Author: Hegenberger Medical

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re either pregnant or a midwife looking after a pregnant patient who smokes. Either way, you are in the right place if you want to find out whether smoking really does affect an unborn baby. In this post, we’ll lay out the truth about the effects of smoking during pregnancy; both for the mother-to-be and the baby she’s carrying. As it turns out, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. You may be surprised by what you learn!

First, let’s address the myth that smoking just stunts your baby’s growth. It’s true that smoking is detrimental to the growth of all kinds of body tissues, including those in the womb. However, it’s not just about slow development. Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a range of serious health problems for the baby, from premature birth to miscarriage, stillbirth, and low birth weight.

For example, the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke deprives the baby of oxygen, which can disrupt its growth and development. This can also result in the baby being delivered early, which can cause issues like breathing difficulties or developmental problems in later life. In fact, some sources suggest that a third of all premature births worldwide are caused by smoking.

Second, tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 different chemicals, many of which are harmful to both the mother and the baby. When pregnant women inhale these chemicals, they can cause long-term damage to the developing fetus. The most worrying of all these dangers is the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While the exact cause of SIDS is still unclear, several studies have indicated that smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of this tragic event.

Third, smoking doesn’t just endanger the baby’s life during pregnancy, it can affect the child’s health for many years to come. Children born to smoking mothers are more likely to suffer health problems like asthma, bronchitis, learning difficulties and even heart disease. They also tend to have lower IQs and are more likely to develop behavioral problems.

Fourth, it’s important to note that even passive smoking can be harmful to the developing fetus. If you’re around someone who smokes for any length of time, you and your baby will breathe in the same toxic fumes as the smoker. This is why pregnant women are advised to stay away from smoky environments during pregnancy.

In conclusion, you should know that smoking during your pregnancy can be very harmful to your developing baby. The harsh reality is that smoking while pregnant is the leading preventable cause of infant mortality, and the consequences can be dire. Even moderate smoking is risky, as it can cause problems that last well beyond childbirth. So if you are a smoker, the best gift you can give to your baby is to quit smoking as soon as possible. If your struggling with this health professionals understand you and are here to help you. Make the most of smoking cessation teams that can assist you with prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum, amongst other options.

Remember you are twice as likely to succeed at quitting if you get some support from a trained advisor.

As a midwife, it’s important to provide clear guidance to your patients about the dangers of smoking and to support them in their efforts to quit. With a little willpower and the right support, any pregnant mother can kick the smoking habit for good.

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