It’s impossible to get away from the fact that smoking is bad for your baby’s health. The very packs of cigarettes themselves have warnings posted right on the sides informing pregnant women that smoking could cause birth defects. Knowing that smoking is bad for the baby leads many to try to kick the habit during pregnancy. Unfortunately, only a small percentage manage to completely stop smoking.
The potential effects of smoking during pregnancy include:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Delayed lung development for baby
- Baby born with asthma
- Increased likelihood of learning disorders
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Smoking is the number one cause of problems in pregnancy.
If you’re a smoker, you know how hard it can be to quit. Even though your baby’s health is a strong motivator, you’ll still need plenty of help.
Start by talking with your doctor about quitting. Your doctor will be able to suggest a number of strategies. She will also be aware of support groups and other resources she can direct you to.
Avoid nicotine-based smoker cessation products like the patch. For one thing, they are almost as dangerous to your baby as smoking. In fact, some experts suggest that the levels of nicotine in your baby’s blood stream are actually higher with the patch than with cigarette smoking. Recent studies have also shown them to be ineffective.
The best way for most women to quit smoking during pregnancy is to simply throw the cigarettes away and enlist as many friends and family members as possible for support, encouragement, and accountability. Smoking cessation experts also suggest it’s a good idea to focus on yourself as much as your baby while you are trying to quit. By focusing on the health benefits quitting has for you, you are less likely to feel deprived and more likely to stay off cigarettes after the baby is born. Smoking around babies and children is harmful after they’re born, too.
No matter what stage of pregnancy you are in, you can benefit yourself and your baby by kicking the habit. Earlier is better, of course, but quitting in the second or third trimester can still have significant health benefits for you and your baby.