Advice about the risks associated with smoking during pregnancy and the effects of smoke on your baby when you are pregnant
Being pregnant can be a stressful time, with many changes to get used to over the nine month period. Giving up one of your last little favourite luxuries can seem like the last thing on your mind, but giving up smoking is one of the changes that you really should welcome with open arms.
It's been widely documented that smoking whilst pregnant doesn't do you or your unborn child any good, but the risks can be far more serious than many think, and can effect your health just as much as your child's.
There are several consequences for your unborn if you smoke whilst carrying. Firstly there is the risk of slow growth and underdevelopment, both on the inside and out; resulting in not only complications whilst pregnant but also the risk of low birth weight as well as premature birth dates. This is because when you smoke, a gas called carbon monoxide is released into your bloodstream, cutting down the oxygen that reaches your baby.
For each cigarette you smoke, the blood flow to your child is disrupted for roughly 15 seconds, making underdevelopment and low birth weight common. In fact, smoking accounts for between 20-30% of low birth weight babies, 14% of premature births and 10% of all infant deaths. If this information isn't enough to help you stop smoking, the risk of cot death and stillbirth are also greatly increased if you smoke whilst pregnant; while after the birth, your child may well suffer from damaged airways, breathing problems and even asthma.
While the effects of smoking during pregnancy can cause many health and growth problems for your child, the risks on your health during the nine months of pregnancy are also extremely dangerous. Smoking when carrying improves your chances of severe complications during pregnancy and birth, including increased morning sickness, bleeding and a much higher risk of miscarriage.
While the risks associated with smoking during pregnancy are painstakingly clear, roughly 30% of British women continue to smoke whilst they are pregnant. This is alarmingly high and could be accounted for by many assuming that as they didn't quit when they first fell pregnant there is no point stopping a few days, weeks or even months into their nine months, however this is simply not true.
While smoking during pregnancy at any stage is damaging, the most harmful effects of smoking occur within months 4-9. Therefore quitting within the first three months of your pregnancy means your baby is much more likely to be of a healthy weight and stage of development.
Pregnancy itself can be a risky business without the added complications that smoking brings to a child's development. By quitting the fags you can give your child the chance to have the healthiest possible start in life, and it might do you a fair few favours as well.
Author : Elizabeth Stansfield
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