Taking care of your child begins at conception. There are many lifestyle choices you can make that may have a negative impact on how well your child adapts, grows and develops inside the womb. Smoking while pregnant can have a detrimental effect on your child, and researchers have found that ultrasound scans can show that mothers who smoke have babies that don't develop at the same rate as mothers who don't smoke. Taking steps now to stop smoking gives your child the opportunity to live a full and healthy life.
Ultrasound Images Show Alarming Effects
It's estimated that nearly 13 percent of expectant mothers continue to smoke while they are pregnant (according to an Australian study from 2012). New ultrasound images have shown how smoking can disrupt an unborn child's development in the womb. Doctors are using these videos in an effort to encourage women to stop smoking during pregnancy. Using four-dimensional ultrasound scans, doctors and mothers can get an unprecedented look at the developing child.
Delayed development of the central nervous system can cause problems for the child that last the rest of the child's life. If you want to increase your chances for a healthy baby and pregnancy, it's crucial to get support to quit smoking as soon as possible. The earlier you quit, the more likely it is that your baby will recover.
Dangerous Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke
Cigarette smoke contains many harmful chemicals, including lead, nicotine, cotinine, cadmium, mercury, cyanide, carbon monoxide and PAHs. These chemicals can reduce the amount of oxygen that is available to the child. Smoking once can limit the amount of oxygen that the baby receives for up to six hours after smoking. Effectively, when you smoke, you're suffocating your unborn child. In addition to limiting the flow of oxygen, these harmful chemicals can also damage the DNA of the child. This can lead to death or abnormalities in the child.
Smoking Prevents the Absorption of Nutrients
Smoking can affect the absorption of nutrients in several ways. Smoking changes the natural hormone patterns that an unborn child relies upon for a healthy and normal development. Nicotine affects the manner in which the fallopian tubes work, and this can cause complications during pregnancy. When the mother smokes, the unborn child is unable to get the proteins needed from the placenta in the right quantity. This can stifle the baby during the most important stages of development and lead to irregularities. Early development of the baby's organs is affected, and there is significant research that indicates smoking affects the development of the lungs and the brain.
Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke
While it's well-known that smoking while pregnant can seriously impact the health, growth and development of your child, second-hand smoke can also cause problems. The baby may be born prematurely or die from sudden infant death syndrome. If you live with someone who smokes, it's important that they curtail their smoking when near you. The effects of second-hand smoke can be just as harmful as smoking a cigarette. The chance of a miscarriage also increases if you're a smoker or subjected to second-hand smoke during your pregnancy.
Cleft lip or cleft palate are conditions that your baby may be born with if you choose to smoke. The formation of this defect occurs during the fourth to seventh week of pregnancy. If the baby is unable to get the proper nutrients, the lip may not completely join before birth. This can lead to cleft lip, which may require surgery to correct. The size of the opening in the lip may be as small as a cut or as large as a wide opening that extends through the lip and nose. Cleft palate generally occurs during the sixth to ninth week of pregnancy. It occurs when the tissue making up the roof of the mouth doesn't fully form. These conditions are more than cosmetic problems, the presence of cleft lip or cleft palate may affect the child's ability to speak, eat and hear. It's well-known that women who smoke are more likely to have a child with one of these conditions than women who don't smoke.
Alternatives to Cigarettes
The only safe option to improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy is to abstain from any form of smoking. Some pregnant mothers may turn to e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking. However, while e-cigarettes generally have fewer chemicals that can harm your child, they are still not safe to use while pregnant. The nicotine, flavouring and chemicals that you're ingesting can still affect your baby's development. Nicotine is especially dangerous for a child as it can hamper the development of the baby's brain and lungs. Additionally, there isn't enough evidence to suggest that these devices can help you stop smoking. If you're pregnant and unable to quit smoking, counselling has been shown effective in helping people quit the habit.
Seek Help - Support
Data from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention National Vital Statistics Report show that the leading causes of death include deformations and chromosomal abnormalities, and the second leading cause of death is low birth weight. Since smoking can contribute to these leading causes of death, it's important to seek help if you have an addiction to smoking. Your baby's life and well-being could depend on your ability to stop smoking.