The Dangers of Smoking While Pregnant
The dangers of smoking are well known today, but around 1 in 5 deaths in the US are caused by smoking according to the CDC.
Smoking doesn’t just impact your own health. It can potentially jeopardize the health of those around you because of secondhand smoke. And for expecting mothers, the dangers of smoking extend to the fetus.
What Can Happen?
Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of health problems for the fetus, such as:
- Low birth weight;
- Birth defects;
- Preterm birth;
- Sudden infant death.
The biggest threat here is due to nicotine, the addictive substance found in tobacco. Nicotine can damage the baby's brain and lungs if the mother smokes during pregnancy. The same issue is present even with e-cigarettes.
While these effects are well-documented, and the doctor will advise mothers to quit smoking as soon as they learn they are pregnant, on average around 7% of expecting mothers will continue smoking while pregnant. But why are they actively putting their child at risk?
Well, it’s difficult to find one reason for it, but a common cause for smoking while pregnant is simply not being able to kick the habit. Nicotine is extremely addictive, and it can be hard for people to stop smoking cold turkey. Even if the mother wants what’s best for the baby, her body is used to the substance. When it doesn’t get it anymore, it will demand it.
What Can You Do?
Smoking cigarettes, in any form, is an addiction. Expecting mothers may not want to intentionally harm their babies, but the addiction can overpower their will.
Though it may seem like nicotine withdrawal is not as serious as other forms, it doesn’t also mean you can easily quit by yourself. Quitting tobacco is hard, and some people can struggle to achieve it without proper support.
However, there are some programs and ways to achieve it. For expecting mothers, it’s best to first talk to your OBGYN before you turn to an anti-tobacco solution. One popular way a lot of people stop smoking is by using nicotine patches, that help them keep cravings at bay and slowly frees them for addiction. However, these patches are not suitable for pregnant mothers.
If you are a smoker and become pregnant, it’s crucial to ask for help and kick the habit at once. Your doctor can help you find the safest way to quit smoking.