Leading a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy is a must to ensure the birth of a healthy baby. Women quickly adopt a healthy diet, physical exercises and go for regular prenatal check ups during pregnancy, but smoking is one such bad habit that they find tough to give up. Unfortunately, many expecting moms fail to get rid of this unhealthy habit out of sheer negligence inviting serious complications during and after delivery.
In fact, women should quit smoking during the preconception period as smoking reduces the chances of pregnancy considerably. Smoking during pregnancy is bound to have adverse effects on the would-be-mother and unborn child, which are beyond rectification in maximum cases. Even passive smoking during pregnancy can invite serious complications in the future.
Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy on Expecting Mothers
Smoking during pregnancy is dangerous for the expecting moms that can have long lasting effects. Cigarette smoke constitutes of more than 4,000 poisonous chemicals of which more than 60 are carcinogenic. Prolonged inhalation of nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar through smoking are equally dangerous for the mother and the growing fetus.
Smoking is one of the prime causes for pregnancy related complications risking the life of both the mother and the newborn. Women habituated to smoking have high chances of ectopic pregnancy, premature delivery, vaginal bleeding, abruption of placenta, placenta previa, miscarriage and still birth. Any one of these factors can be life threatening for the mother.
Effects of Smoking During Pregnancy on the Fetus and the Newborn
Smoking also has serious effects on the developing fetus and the newborn, which may be everlasting.
Low Birth Weight
For every pack of cigarette you smoke, the weight of the developing fetus reduces by half a pound. Nicotine and carbon monoxide produced during smoking cuts off the normal oxygen supply hampering the normal growth and development of the fetus in the womb.
Puffing 1-2 packs daily on an average during pregnancy will reduce the birth weight of the newborn by 1-2 pounds. Extremely low birth weight of the baby may be threatening for his or her survival post delivery and may also result in a stunted development.
It is obvious that underweight babies will have underdeveloped organs. Underdeveloped lungs pose a real threat for the survival of the newborn post delivery. Prolonged oxygen deficiency due to smoking coupled with the toxic effects of nicotine and carbon monoxide hampers the normal development of the lungs. As a result, newborns are unable to breathe properly and are put on a respirator for several weeks. Babies exposed to cigarette smoking while in the womb are vulnerable to asthma and carry very high risks of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Women smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy are most likely to give birth to babies with congenital heart defects. According to reports published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk for babies born with congenital heart defects is quite high (about 20-70%) whose mothers continued smoking during pregnancy.
Smoking obstructs the normal blood circulation from the heart to the lungs and to the different chambers of the heart causing atrial septal defects. These congenital heart defects may cause lifelong suffering to the child preventing him or her to lead a normal and healthy life.
Smoking during pregnancy affects the normal brain development of the fetus. Prolonged oxygen deficit blood circulation and poisoning effects of nicotine and carbon monoxide due to smoking leaves the brain of the fetus under developed. As a result, babies who are born with underdeveloped brain experience behavioral and learning problems throughout the life. They have a poor grasping power due to low IQ, and gradually they become secluded from the society.
It is clear that smoking during pregnancy can pose lifelong suffering both for the mother and child. Motherhood is one of the wonderful gifts of nature, and nothing can be more tragic than giving birth to a child with serious birth defects caused due to an unhealthy habit of the mother.