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The Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy: How to Quit


person holding pregnancy bump

The effects of smoking and secondhand smoke can be detrimental to a person’s health. With the most prominent consequences being lung and throat diseases and cancers. However, this is not news, and whether you smoke or not, most people will know of these dire side effects.

In fact, according to NHS Digital, 14.4% of adults in England are smokers. In areas like Kingston, Hull, and Lincoln, there are reports that 26% of adults smoke in those regions.

It is no secret that the habit is highly addictive thanks to the nicotine content, so when it comes to pregnancy, how do these smokers just suddenly stop?  

In England, a whopping 10.6% of pregnant women were reported to smoke throughout their pregnancy. Not only is smoking dangerous for the mother but also dangerous for their unborn and newborn children.

This article will discuss all the effects smoking can have on your pregnancy and child and how you can quit.

The Effects of Smoking on an Unborn Baby

We all know that smoking is a bad habit that leads to several health risks, but it is a personal choice whether you do so, and it usually only affects your own person. But smoking during pregnancy is extremely harmful to the mother and the baby, and it is not something your baby can avoid.

When you smoke during pregnancy, it is like you are blowing smoke into a baby’s face. All the poisons from the cigarettes are passed to your unborn baby and can last in the womb for 15 minutes with each cigarette. That is like having your baby in a smoke-filled room for 15 minutes.

Every time you smoke, you inhale 4,000 chemicals that go straight from your lungs to your bloodstream. From the bloodstream, all the chemicals flow into the placenta and umbilical cord right into your baby’s tiny body. All of this causes your baby to struggle for oxygen.

Carbon monoxide, one of the most dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes, enters your baby and causes their heart to pump even harder. When carbon monoxide enters your bloodstream, it restricts oxygen which is essential for your baby’s growth and development.

Some of the common harmful effects caused by smoking during pregnancy include premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or sudden infant death.

The Effects of Smoking on a Newborn

Not only does smoking affect your baby in the womb, but they are also affected when newly born. Horrifically, if you smoke during your pregnancy, your baby will become addicted to nicotine and immediately start going through nicotine withdrawal.

Nicotine withdrawal causes your infant to get stressed and irritable. With all this stress and irritation, your baby may start crying uncontrollably, and you won’t be able to soothe them easily.

According to NHS Digital, smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of your baby dying from sudden infant death or cot death by up to a staggering 25%.

If you stop smoking during pregnancy, all of these problems will be avoided, and your precious baby will have a healthier start in life. But that doesn’t mean you are in the clear yet, especially if you smoke around your children.

The Effects of Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is the smoke you exhale from smoking a cigarette and the excess smoke that comes off the end of a lit cigarette. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 dangerous chemicals, including arsenic, benzene, and cyanide. Plus, secondhand smoke can cause all the lung and throat diseases and cancers that smokers are exposed to.

Children are extremely vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they breathe more rapidly and have less developed airways, lungs, and immune systems. Those who breathe in secondhand smoke have resulted in 300,000 doctor appointments and 9,000 hospital admissions a year.

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk of ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks, and meningitis. Plus, children who breathe in secondhand smoke have a 24% increase in risk for lung cancer and at risk for heart disease by 25%.

Protecting your children from secondhand smoke is the best way to avoid harming them.

Best Ways to Quit Smoking During Pregnancy

The best way to avoid harming your unborn baby is to quit smoking during your pregnancy. For many people, it takes a lot of help to quit smoking during a very stressful time. Before you worry, here are some great resources.

One of the best ways to quit smoking is with nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) only contains nicotine and none of the harmful chemicals that are found in a cigarette. NFT is available in patches, gum, inhalator, nasal spray, mouth spray, oral strips, lozenges, and micro tabs.

Another great way to get help is with the NHS Smokefree helpline. The NHS Smokefree helpline gives free help, advice, and support on stopping smoking. They offer services like one-on-one or group sessions with stopsmoking advisors and pregnancy stop-smoking specialists. To find the closest NHS Smokefree specialist, you can contact a midwife, a health visitor, a nurse at your GP surgery, or a pharmacist.

For any other information, questions, or concerns, speak with your doctor before starting any of these treatments.

Best Ways to Quit Smoking Altogether

For the safety of yourself and your children, quitting smoking altogether is the best way to stay healthy. As a new parent, life will get crazy, busy, and stressful with a newborn, and you may have the urge to smoke a cigarette to relax. Before smoking, check out these ways to help you quit.

As mentioned before, nicotine replacement therapy is a great start to quitting smoking. NRT only contains nicotine and none of the harmful chemicals that a cigarette contains. The best way to get started with NRT is through patches and gum.

Other treatments you can try are liquorice-flavoured nicotine, Champix, or Zyban. However, you should only use these products when you aren’t pregnant.

If these methods aren’t working, there are other sources you can reach out to, like the NHS Smokefree helpline. They offer support sessions, advice, and advisors to help you quit smoking.

A new way that people are trying to stop smoking cigarettes is by using e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are still pretty new, and scientists and doctors are still researching their effects on people. However, e-cigarettes do not contain the two most toxic ingredients, carbon monoxide and tar. They do contain other harmful chemicals, but at lower levels.

Now that you are on the road to quitting smoking, it’s time to enjoy your pregnancy and your new baby. 

Find more information from our wide range of health information pages available at Home Health UK, and don’t hesitate to visit the NHS website for more help and advice. 

If you think you may be pregnant, explore our selection of quality at-home pregnancy tests online now.

Article created by our friends at Childmode.

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