You know that smoking is bad. You’ve heard it over and over again: Smoking causes cancer, and smoking kills. But, try as you may, you still find yourself picking up that cigarette when you get the urge.
But, now that you’re pregnant, you have someone else’s health to think about. If the health risks weren’t enough to get you to stop smoking before, the health of your unborn baby should be now. Smoking while pregnant gravely endangers your baby’s life while he or she is in utero and after he or she is born. If you’re reading this article, it’s time to find the support you need to quit smoking while pregnant — if not for yourself, for your unborn baby.
We know that nicotine addiction is a difficult disease. You may have tried to quit in the past, only to fall back into your old habits. We understand the seemingly impossible situation you are in — which is why we’ve gathered some important information on smoking cigarettes while pregnant to get you the support you need.
Remember, you are never alone. Resources are out there to help. All you have to do is reach out.
The information presented in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your local doctor for more information on quitting smoking while pregnant and other steps to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
Smoking While Pregnant: Statistics in the U.S.
While the number of people smoking in the United States continues to decline, there are still many people like you out there who are battling an addiction they do not want. Many smokers started this habit when they were young, and it became an addiction they continue to fight every day. Cigarettes have become a routine part of their life, no matter what happens.
This means that many women ultimately find themselves smoking while pregnant. Almost half of the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, which means that many women who are smokers don’t take steps to quit or reduce their smoking before becoming pregnant. For some of them, smoking may provide a temporary stress-relief that helps them cope with the anxieties of an unplanned pregnancy.
Studies show that 12 to 20 percent of pregnant women smoke, and more than 1,000 babies in the United States die each year because their mothers smoked while pregnant. One in five babies born to mothers who smoke is born with low birth weight, and babies born to mothers who smoke are about three times more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
So, if you are still smoking while pregnant, remember that you are not alone. In fact, if you are smoking while pregnant, facts like these may be what you need to seek out the treatment you deserve.
The Dangers of Smoking Cigarettes While Pregnant
Everyone knows the dangers of smoking for the smoker herself, but it’s important to know that a pregnant woman smoking exposes her unborn baby to all of the same health risks she incurs. In fact, tobacco and nicotine can be even more dangerous to a baby in the midst of its development process. All of those poisons that you inhale — nicotine, carbon monoxide and more — will be carried directly through your bloodstream to your unborn baby.
Smoking while pregnant will not only put your own health at risk, but it will also increase the chances of:
- An elevated heart rate for your baby
- Miscarriage and stillbirth
- Low birth weight for your baby
- Premature birth
- Respiratory problems for your baby
- Birth defects
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Vaginal bleeding
- Placental complications, such as placental abruption or placental previa
- Tissue damage for your baby
- Your baby developing a cleft lip
The American Lung Association estimates that smoking cigarettes while pregnant accounts for 20 to 30 percent of low-birth-weight babies, up to 14 percent of preterm deliveries, and about 10 percent of all infant deaths.
Babies eventually born to smoking pregnant moms are also more likely to be exposed to secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Secondhand smoke includes inhaling smoke and fumes from someone else smoking, while thirdhand smoke is absorbing gases and toxins from clothes, hair, carpet, furniture and more. A newborn baby is very delicate and, if he or she is born to a mother who was smoking cigarettes while pregnant, there is a higher chance she will continue to smoke during his or her first years or months of life — putting her child in even more danger.
If you want more information on the risks and dangers of smoking while pregnant, reach out to your local obstetrician.
How to Stop Smoking Cigarettes While Pregnant
At this point, you may be asking, “How can I stop smoking cigs while pregnant?”
By coming to this article and asking this question, you are taking the first step to put yourself and your baby in a healthier place. You may have a hard road ahead of you, but be proud: You are making the effort to be the best mother possible at this time in your life.
Step 1: Make a plan for quitting. Some people can quit cold-turkey, but that may not work for everyone. Think about when you get your biggest cravings for cigarettes, and try to adjust your routine to avoid those triggers.
Step 2: Find coping mechanisms. If you smoke because of stress or anxiety, try other healthy methods instead of smoking. For example, exercise or meditate instead.
Step 3: Talk to your doctor. You may need medical assistance in quitting smoking while pregnant. Your doctor may be able to offer nicotine replacements to alleviate your cravings during the next nine months.
Step 4: Create a support system. Pregnancy is stressful and complicated, especially if you had no plans to become pregnant at this time in your life. Think about any trusted friends or family members who can support you during your withdrawal period and fill your life with positive, healthy things.
Step 5: Find professional support. You may find that you need counseling or support groups to stay motivated during this journey. Don’t be afraid to reach out to resources such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ SmokeFree programs.
If you are struggling with smoking cigarettes while pregnant, it’s important that you think about your baby’s future. Can you provide the safest environment for your child after he or she is born? What if you can’t manage to quit smoking? Quitting smoking can be challenging anytime — but especially during the stress of an unplanned pregnancy. You may be facing other unrelated challenges in your life that you cope with through smoking, and you may not know what decision you want to make for the baby of your unplanned pregnancy.
If you are concerned about your child’s well-being and want them to have the best life possible, you may consider placing them for adoption. Adoption allows you to give your child the opportunities they deserve with a safe family who is prepared for any health issues of an infant born to a smoking pregnant mom. It also gives you the chance to watch your child grow up while you focus on improving your own health.
Whatever path you choose for yourself and your baby, remember that there is always help. Being a smoking, pregnant mom can sometimes seem like an impossible situation, but many have been where you are and come out the other side happier and healthier. To start your process of quitting tobacco now, please reach out to your local doctor.