Quit Smoking Now to Reduce Risk of Complications
From the moment you’re pregnant, you’ll want to take the best care of your body — for your sake and your baby’s. Eat well, sleep well, and, if you haven’t already done so, stop smoking. In addition to its devastating impact on fertility, smoking during pregnancy can affect your baby’s health from conception to full term. Basically, smoking exposes the fetus to toxic chemicals (such as nicotine and carbon monoxide), which can cause enormous complications for both mother and child. Some of these resulting problems are:
- Early birth, lower weight. Smoking during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born too early and/or have low birth weight — making it more likely your infant will be born sick and need to stay in the hospital longer. Even a mother’s exposure to secondhand smoke causes a baby to be more likely to weigh less.
- Birth defects. Babies born to women who smoke are more likely to have certain birth defects, like a cleft lip or cleft palate, than babies born to non-smokers.
- Sudden death. Smoking during pregnancy (and afterwards too) puts babies at an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is infant death up to one year, for which the cause of death cannot be found.
- Untimely bleeding. Smoking can cause problems with the placenta — the source of a baby’s food and oxygen during pregnancy. For example, the placenta can separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to both the mother and her baby.
- Developmental problems and childhood illnesses. Smoking during pregnancy can also increase your baby’s susceptibility to colic, asthma, and childhood obesity. Some research also suggests that a woman’s future fertility and her child’s emotional development and ability to learn might be affected.
The good news is, the moment you quit smoking, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll provide a healthier environment for your baby. Even after just one day of not smoking, your baby will receive more oxygen and will be better able to receive vital nutrients. And the earlier you quit, the better the chance you and your baby will go home together, happy and healthy. After giving birth, do continue your good efforts at quitting. Exposure to secondhand smoke can turn a calm infant into a fussy one, not to mention causing numerous respiratory complications. And, of course, you’ll want to be in your own best health for motherhood!
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