Smoking in pregnancy

How Smoking Harms Your Baby

On average, smokers have more complications of pregnancy and labour. If you smoke you are more likely to have an unhealthy placenta (afterbirth).

this means a baby born to a smoker is:-

  • More likely than other babies to be abnormal in some way
  • Twice as likely to be born prematurely. Women who smoke are less likely to carry their babies to full term. There is a 26% greater risk that they will miscarry or experience a stillbirth.
  • More likely than other babies to die suddenly in the first year of his life (a cot death). A study showed that the number of babies dying from cot death could be reduced by almost two thirds if parents did not smoke.
  • Three times more likely to be underweight at birth (even if he is born on time). Babies of smoking mothers are an average 200g lighter at birth.
  • A small baby does not make labour easier. A small baby has less strength to cope with labour, and runs a greater risk of dying at this time. Being born small can affect a baby's health well into adulthood.
  • The later a mother smokes during her pregnancy the more likely her child is to suffer from respiratory problems in the first six months of life.

Each time you smoke a cigarette you breathe in carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is carried into your blood stream instead of oxygen, and this in return reduces your baby's supply of oxygen. Without a good supply of oxygen, your baby's growth may be stunted.

Nicotine narrows the blood vessels in the placenta, and this reduces still more the amount of oxygen and nutrients flowing to your baby.

With each cigarette a pregnant woman smokes, the blood flow through the placenta is reduced for about 15 minutes, causing the baby's heart to increase.

How Smoking Harms Your Child

Passive smoking during childhood increases the risk for respiratory infections, asthma and impaired lung growth. Passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer is adulthood. Children of parents who smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia in the first year of life.

More than 17,000 children under the age of 5 are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of passive smoking.

Medical research also shows they have and increased risk of menigitis, and more chance of getting 'glue ear' which can cause partial deafness.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is a gas known as CO. It is:

  • Colourless
  • Odourless
  • Tasteless
  • Poisonous

It is harmful because it reduces the amount of oxygen in the body - instead of carrying oxygen, some of the red blood cells carry the carbon monoxide.

Smoking 20 cigarettes per day = 10% less oxygen in the blood.

Cigarette smoke contains high quantities which are sucked straight into the body through the lungs.

Effects of Carbon Monoxide on You!

  • Increased heart rate
  • A rise in blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Less resistance to cholesterol
  • Shortness of breath
  • Finding it hard to exercise
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Yawning

Long Term Effects of Carbon Monoxide

These include:-

  • Heart disease and circulatory problems
  • Cancers
  • Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Osteoporosis
  • Infertility
  • Impotance
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Carbon Monoxide affects the whole of your body - NO CELL LEFT UNTOUCHED!!!

The Benefits of Stopping Smoking

Your body (and your baby) start to feel better very soon after you stop smoking.

20 minutes after your last cigarette: Blood pressure and pulse return to normal. Your circulation has improved so your hands and feet feel warmer.
After 8hours: Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood reduce by half. Oxygen levels return to normal. Chances of a heart attack begin to fall.
After 24 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. The lungs start to clear out mucus and other debris.
After 48 hours: There is no nicotine left in the body. Ability to taste and smell is greatly improved.
After 72 hours: Breathing becomes easier as the bronchial tubes relax. Energy levels increase.
After 2 - 12 weeks: Circulation improves throughout the body, making walking easier.
After 3 - 9 months: Breathing problems such as coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing improve. Overall, lung functions is increased by 5-10%.
After 5 years: Risk of a heart attack fall to about half that of a smoker.
After 10 years: Risk of heart attack falls to about the same as someone who has never smoked. Risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
After 15 years: Risk of a stroke is similar to someone who has never smoked.

Extra Benefits!

  • CASH - Lots of it! At over £5 for 20 cigarettes, smoking makes a big dent in your wallet. Stopping a pack-a-day habit is like having a £35 a week pay rise!
  • TIME - Lots of that too! It takes about 10 minutes to smoke a cigarette - for a 10 a day smoker that's nearly 2 hours a day just puffing. In the course of a year, a 20 a day smoker will have puffed away 50 days! What could you get round to doing with all that extra time?
  • FINANCES - Did you know that non-smokers get cheaper insurance? Life insurance, home insurance and car insurance can all be cheaper because non-smokers are less likely to die early, start fires in the home or have accidents whilst driving.

Tips For Stopping Smoking

Stopping smoking is never easy but there are ways to give yourself the best chance of suceeding.

Ask yourself - 'Why do I smoke?'

Many woment think cigarettes help them to relax. In fact they don't. What cigaettes do is calm the nicotine cravings. Nicotine withdrawal makes you feel tense. Think about the times when you've rushed for a cigarette/ Stopping smoking will free you from this extra pressure.

How determined are you?

Your pregnancy is a good reason to quit smoking, but think of ones for yourself such as more money for basics and treats.

Plan ahead

Before you stop, decide how you're going to handle the first few days. Keeping a diary helps you see your smoking habit more clearly. Ust the diary to work out how to change your routine to avoid tempting situations.

Anticipate problems ahead of time

work out which times or situations may be difficult at first. Plan to do something else instead of smoking. By thinking ahead and asking people to help you, it'll be easier.

Be confident!

Remember why you want to be smoke free. Concentrate on the rewards you'll get and plan some treats for yourself. Set your quit date and ask someone to support you. Stopping smoking gives your baby the best start in life and doubles your chance of living a longer, healthier life - that's great news for you and your family!

You can use nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, chewing gum and lozenges whilst you are pregnant so if you want to quit smoking, contact your midwife who will refer you to the smoking cessation services for additional help and support.

Good Luck! You can do it!

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