Quitting Smoking… It’s time. Part Three: The Effects of Smoking While Pregnant
According to Ob-gyn Robert Welch, babies that are born from mothers with diabetes or high blood pressure are better off than from mothers who smoke. Dr. Welch continues by saying that he can control the symptoms of high blood pressure and diabetes, but there is nothing that can protect a baby from a mother who smokes.
Why is Smoking so Dangerous to Babies?
Cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals and at least 60 cancer-causing compounds. When you smoke, these chemicals are transported to your baby through the bloodstream, which is your baby’s only source of nutrition and oxygen.
Maternal smoking is associated with preterm delivery, growth restriction, spontaneous abortion, increased risk sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and long term psychiatric and behavioral disorders.
Smoking while you are pregnant is like giving your baby a direct dosage of nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine chokes off the oxygen that is being delivered to your baby by narrowing blood vessels throughout your body, even the ones in the umbilical cord. Instead of carrying oxygen to your baby, red blood cells pick up carbon monoxide to again reduce the amount of oxygen your baby receives.
Babies who do not receive enough oxygen may experience the following:
- Height and weight Issues
The average woman who smokes while pregnant will drop her baby’s birth weight by a half-pound. Women who smoke two packs per day while pregnant will drop her baby’s weight by a full pound or more. Stunting your baby’s growth can have lifelong consequences that should not be taken lightly.
- Underdeveloped Body and Lungs
Women who smoke while pregnant run the risk of birthing babies with underdeveloped bodies. The baby’s lungs may not be ready to function on their own so they may have to spend their first few weeks of life on a respirator. Even when they start breathing on their own, they may experience lifelong breathing problems such as asthma. Babies born from women who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to die from SIDS.
Cigarette smoking during pregnancy may also put your baby at an increased risk for developing cleft lip.
- Heart Defect
Smoking while pregnant puts your baby at risk of being born with a heart defect by 20 to 70 percent. This is because blood flow from the right side of the heart to the lungs is often obstructed, as well as some openings of the heart.
- Cognitive Impairment
Smoking during pregnancy makes your baby more likely to develop a learning disorder, a low IQ and behavioral problems.
Smoking and Infertility
Smoking is not only bad for your future baby. It may even prevent you from having a baby. According to a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, cigarette smoking has a negative impact on ovarian function that may cause infertility. The study showed that smoking had a reduced pregnancy rate after treatment cycles when compared to non-smokers. It concluded that women should quit smoking before assisted reproduction cycles.
Another study showed that women who smoke during their reproductive years had greater rates of infertility than women who did not smoke.
What Can I Do To Alter The Effects Of Smoking For Me And My Future Children?
If you are a woman expecting to have a baby in the near future, the best thing you can do is stop smoking as soon as possible. Or better yet, don’t start at all, especially if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s.
Be aware that quitting smoking may take you several years before you’re totally clear. So plan ahead. Make sure your body is completely smoke free before trying to house a baby. Talk to your doctor about quitting. There are also support groups you can join to help you kick the habit.
A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine showed that medicinal herbal tea that was high in antioxidants helped patients stop smoking. It also helped reduce withdraw symptoms. On these terms, you may see benefits from including high antioxidants foods and supplements to your diet.
Antioxidants may help fight withdrawal symptoms and support the process of quitting smoking because they are powerful cleansers. Antioxidants bind to free radicals or toxins in the body that are unstable and stabilize them by donating an electron. Once the electron is donated, the free radical is no longer harmful. They are moved out of the body or turned into antioxidants themselves.
Most green food supplements are high in antioxidants. Start the detox process of supplementing with a high quality antioxidant blend of superfoods, such as Spectrum Vibrance by Vibrant Health, to help remove residual toxins from your body that may affect your baby’s health. You may also want to consider a complete detox cleanse to give your baby a fair chance at a fresh start to life.
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