Smoking during pregnancy
What all mums-to-be should know about smoking
Attitudes towards smoking have changed over the years as we learn more and more about the potential harmful effects. For example, it used to be thought that only smoking while pregnant could harm your child but passive smoking can be damaging too and even smoking before conception can be harmful. It can take smokers longer to conceive but it's not just a woman's smoking that can be the cause. Men who smoke should really think about quitting too, as smoking can affect the quality and mobility of their sperm.
What actually happens if you smoke during pregnancy
If you smoke during pregnancy you inhale lots of dangerous chemicals. Your baby takes in harmful carbon monoxide, nicotine and maybe other chemical substances. Carbon Monoxide restricts the oxygen supply, which reduces the size of the blood vessels and so increase the blood flow (blood pressure) and heart rate of both you and your baby, leading to lots of problems.
How smoking during pregnancy affects you
On average, women who smoke are more likely than non-smokers to:
- Suffer more morning sickness
- Have an ectopic pregnancy
- Have an increased risk of miscarriage
- Go into premature labour
How smoking or being a passive smoker while pregnant affects your baby
Babies of pregnant women who continue smoking are more likely to:
- Have more problems during and after labour
- Have developmental problems
- Have a lower birth weight
- Have problems keeping warm when newborn
- Have a higher risk of cot death
- Have a higher risk of illnesses such as asthma
Try to stop smoking before you get pregnant
If you quit before you get pregnant not only will you get your baby off to a better start in life but you'll also have been a non-smoker for longer – making it easier to resist smoking during your pregnancy and afterwards.
Help to stop smoking for mums-to-be
The great news is - since the dangers of smoking have become more well-known, help with giving up smoking is much more widely available. Many people find it easier to quit if they have someone helping them along, for example, the NHS has set up a smokefree pregnancy helpline 0880 1699 169. Your midwife should also be able to give you lots of advice and encouragement and put you in touch with local support groups.