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Is It Ok to Smoke When You’re Pregnant?

Posted: Pregnancy & Birth » Wellness | August 1st, 2004



By Vickie Barnes

Since a mother and her fetus have connected blood systems, cancer-causing chemicals such as tobacco can pass through the placenta, the tissue and blood vessels that nourish your baby. As a result, it can then travel through the umbilical cord and into the body of your developing baby.

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When you smoke while pregnant
• You could have a miscarriage or stillbirth.
• Your baby could be born too small or too soon.
• Babies born too small may have breathing and other health problems.
• Your baby could have learning and behavior problems later in childhood.
• Your baby is at increased risk of dying from crib death (sudden infant death syndrome). This illness causes a baby who seems healthy to die without any warning.

Why you should stop smoking
• You will have a healthier pregnancy.
• Your unborn baby will grow better because it will get more food and oxygen.
• Your baby is more likely to be born healthy.

How to stop
• Write down why you want to stop smoking.
• Choose a “Quit Day” some time in the next two weeks.
• Ask a nonsmoking “buddy” like your partner or a friend to help you quit.
• Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays, matches and lighters on your “Quit Day.”
• Stay away from places and activities that make you want to smoke.

When you feel the urge to smoke
• Call a friend.
• Drink water or juice.
• Chew sugarless gums or eat carrot sticks.
• Take a deep breath and count to five. Let the air out slowly. Do this five times.
• Refer back to your list of reasons for quitting.
• Find things to do with your hands so you can’t hold a cigarette.
• Contact Smokers Anonymous through your local yellow pages or health care provider.

When dealing with second-hand smoke
Stay away! Keep a wide berth between you and rooms where people are smoking. After your baby is born, resist the urge to start smoking again if you were successful in stopping. Babies and children who are around smokers have more colds, ear infections and flu as well as respiratory problems.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, so if you begin again — stop. If you can’t stop, then at least cut down as much as you can. The fewer cigarettes you smoke, the better your chance of having a healthy baby.

© Vickie Barnes; reprinted with permission of Amazing Pregnancy and Morning Sickness Help

Vickie Barnes operates the Earth’s Magic series of pregnancy and baby care sites, including BabyHopes.com, focusing on fertility and conception.

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