Smoking in condition of pregnancy

Everyone is probably familiar with the notion “Smoking is harmful to your health”.

However, somehow, I have never thought about giving up smoking just for the sake of my own health. Having had acquired this evil habit back in my student days, I continued smoking just to join a company.

Having met my beloved, I gave serious consideration to the idea of having a child.  But even then I was not going to stop smoking. “Let me get pregnant first". However, the attitude of my spouse was more determined. To give me a more detail account of the harm of smoking, the would-be father brought home a pile of books addressed to the issues of adverse effects of smoking in condition of pregnancy.  To speak the truth, having read several medical reports, I turned my head away from a cigarette. I could not even imagine how many harmful substances were contained in a single, rather thin ladies’ cigarette with menthol, let alone stronger brands.

Impact of smoking

If a woman smokes, her pregnancy would be more painful than for a woman who never smoked or had gave smoking before a baby was conceived. As a more common case, such women suffer early pregnancy toxemia, gestational toxicosis, varix dilatation, constipation and dizziness. Regardless the quantity and quality of cigarettes, the process of smoking promotes disintegration of vitamin C and, as a result, causes its deficiency. The consequences can be serious enough – metabolism dysfunctions, lower immunity, deterioration of protein digestion, depression and sleepiness. Apart from it, nicotine intoxication of would-be mother at the moment of conception would give rise to eight- or tenfold increase in the risk of miscarriage.

However, the major threat is nicotine impact on a baby to be born. Just imagine that your child will begin his way in life under conditions of nicotine intoxication. In essence, while still inside the body of the smoking mother, the baby acts as a passive smoker. It is not a secret that adult smokers would start experiencing an irresistible desire to take at least one more puff at their cigarette following several hours of their forced abstinence (depending on the intensity of smoking). Specialists refer to this phenomenon as to “nicotine famine”. Newborn babies can also suffer it. Famine of such kind may display itself in different ways (depending on how long and how much the mother smoked during the pregnancy period). In most cases babies cry steadily and cannot sleep. It can also be seen by obstetricians from now and then that a baby, having made the first breath, starts crying, turns blue and suffocates a few seconds later. Such are the symptoms of severe nicotine famine. Under emergency conditions a doctor may even ask the young mother to light a cigarette and exhale smoke in the direction of her child.

“Nicotine” children develop much slower both in their intrauterine and postnatal life. During the pregnancy period such babies suffer insufficiency of oxygen (fetal hypoxia). They are often born early, have dysfunctions of respiratory organs and small body size. Long after the birth the child continues suffering the consequences of “poisoned” pregnancy. Nicotine affects brain cells, which can further result in bad sleep, motiveless caprices, weak nervous system, etc.

If you are pregnant, give up smoking

It goes without saying that you’d better never smoke at all. However, if you already have this evil habit, it’s recommended that you abandon cigarettes about one year before the time of potential conception. This is the time necessary to withdraw all nicotine from a female body.

More often than not one can hear such a monolog: “I’ve been smoking for around 10 years and cannot give it up. But I take vitamins, have a proper diet and spend plenty of time in fresh air. By and large, I do my best to make sure that my smoking will not affect the health of my future child”. Indeed, vitamins, correct dieting and outing are rather beneficial factors. However, they will not prevent your child from getting his or her considerable dose of nicotine. Therefore, brace yourself up to abandon this evil habit.

Notwithstanding the common view, cigarettes may not be referred to as drugs.  Practically any psychologically healthy woman can give up smoking. In this regard, the most difficult task is to live her first day without cigarettes. You will not know what to do with your hands, you will stay hungry, sleepy and get irritated without any much reason. Nicotine addiction (unlike alcohol and drug addiction) is rather weak (regardless the time of smoking). According to psychologists, if you stay away from cigarettes for 24 hours, you would not need them any longer. One day later anything but nicotine dependence would attract you to cigarettes. The most important thing now is to come to understand why you need smoking. Smoking can be justified by a variety of motives: to keep somebody company, a desire to be a part of a “smoking” set of people, out of habit, desire to take up an effective pose, for want of anything better to do, etc. Every time your hand is drawn to a cigarette, ask yourself: “Why should I do it?” Having answered this question, figure out some other, safer method to relieve your irritation, relax, or kill your time.

However, if you are a long-time smoker and smoke more than ten cigarettes a day, you should start giving up smoking carefully as you get pregnant. Pregnancy is a huge stress for a woman. Any disturbance in a customary style of life at this time (and, in particular, giving up smoking) would only make your unhealthy condition worse. Sudden and complete nicotine abstinence can lead to a lower rate of heartbeat, higher contractive capacity of muscles, which, in turn, may result in a miscarriage. Such a state can last several weeks and, sometimes, be as long as one month. The most important thing here is not to go too far. If you used to rely on your willpower and be able to keep up with certain inconvenience, now that you are pregnant you will have to take into consideration a little human being, growing inside you. In expert opinion, would-be mothers cannot give up smoking all of a sudden. It’d better that the procedure of parting with cigarettes be extended to about 3 weeks time. First, reduce the quantity of cigarettes to be smoked and switch over to some lighter brands. One week later the quantity of cigarettes to smoke could further be halved. Set the rule never to smoke the whole cigarette at a time. Take a couple of draws to subdue nicotine famine and stop. And, finally, on week 3 take your draws in emergency situations only: if you feel strong dizziness without cigarettes, your heart beats too fast, etc. You will see for yourself that by the end of the third week you will have no desire to smoke.

Sudden onset of pregnancy

As practice shows, in most cases pregnancy starts “all of a sudden” and takes would-be parents unawares. On the day you learn of your pregnancy, the embryo is already 2-4-week-old and it has been affected by a large dose of nicotine. On week 4 liver, kidneys, digestive system, spinal column, and brain begin to be formed. It’s the brain that suffers more than other organs from nicotine intoxication.

Having given up smoking, many women continue to worry about the fact that during the early weeks of pregnancy they kept poisoning their baby with tobacco. Do not panic, it is in your power to minimize the impact made by the smoking on the pregnancy process. Do not fail to tell your doctor that you have recently given up smoking. He will recommend that you take vitamins having a higher content of vitamin C and iron. Reject food and beverages containing caffeine (chocolate, coffee, black tea, cola, etc.). Make sure to eat more fresh vegetables, fruit, and drink natural juices. If you do not suffer edemas, drink more milk, kefir, green tea, non-carbonated mineral water to withdraw nicotine decay products from your body. Spend at least 3-4 hours in fresh air, avoid smoke-filled rooms, and do not permit people around to smoke in your presence. Observation of those simple rules will help your body cope with intoxication and give birth to a healthy child.

Fathers should care too

It’s going without saying that you’d better stop smoking together with your husband. Then one of you will not have to see the second spouse off for a smoke break. To speak the truth, as I suggested that we stop smoking together, my husband was first surprised much: “Why should I do it? I am not the one to carry pregnancy and give breast to the baby!” He was the man who just a few minutes ago gave me a lecture about all the harm caused by smoking to would-be mothers!

Despite the common opinion, even if one of the spouses smokes, the smoking will affect the offspring (although to a less smaller degree). Nicotine intoxication of the body affects the quality and quantity of semen. Hence, both parents have to abandon this evil habit. By the way, nicotine is withdrawn from a male body much faster than from a female body – in about three months’ time. Hence, if would-be father is a smoker, the pregnancy can be planned several months after he smokes his last cigarette.

If your man is absolutely determined to continue smoking, just show him the following medical test data:

  • it is proved scientifically that children living in families where at least one parent smokes suffer pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma diseases more often by 100 %;
  • tobacco condenses blood vessels and disturbs the process of blood saturation with oxygen; children having parents who smoke suffer gastrointestinal diseases 6 times more often;
  • girls who have been passive smokers right from their birth experience infertility problems more often (no ovulation);
  • if a child has congenital adenoids, the latter begin to develop more intensively owing to irritating smoke effects.

Apart from it, nicotine affects fertility, both in respect of men and women. If the smoking period is about 5 years, female and male ability to conceive goes down by 14 and 11 % respectively.