The dangers of cigarette smoking is widely publicised in the media and smokers cannot claim to be ignorant about the dangers of this habit as cigarette packs now contain warnings. While cigarette smoking poses a health risk to all smokers, pregnant women should be more cautious as they are risking both their pregnancy as well as the health of their child in the future. Pregnant women who do not smoke but are exposed to cigarette smoke (secondary smoke) are also at risk of these detrimental effects associated with cigarette smoking in pregnancy.
Risks of Smoking when Pregnant – Mother and Foetus
There are many dangerous effects of cigarette smoking in pregnancy both to the mother and child. Some of the risks to the mother include :
- High risk of stillbirth (stillborn babies).
- Increased chances of miscarriage.
- Premature labour and delivery (prem baby).
- Abruptio placentae where the placenta dislodges from the uterus at an early stage and causes bleeding.
- Placenta previa.
Risks to the unborn baby and child after birth includes :
- Low birth weight.
- Birth defects like cleft lip and/or palate.
- Learning and behavioural disorders including ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
- Mental retardation.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Weak immune system after birth.
- Respiratory disorders like asthma.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or cot death.
Quitting Cigarettes Before Pregnancy
If you are planning on falling pregnant, it is advisable that you kick the habit before you conceive. Quitting cigarette smoking is not easy but the dangers of continuing this habit during pregnancy should serve as a motivation. In cases where you fall pregnant or have symptoms of pregnancy while smoking, you should stop smoking immediately.
Using nicotine replacement products like nicotine chewing gum, patches, mouth sprays or the electronic cigarette is not advisable as there are dangers associated with just using nicotine itself. Even one cigarette occasionally during pregnancy is a dangerous practice as well as being in the presence of those who are smoking.